The Twinkie is arguably one of the most popular snacks in the United States, as it can be found in many grocery stores, pantries, football stadiums, and arenas in the country. The popularity of Twinkies today can be attributed to its history, as it has been around since 1930 and has remained relatively the same in terms of appearance and taste. To know more about the Twinkies and its popularity, here are details about the interesting origins of Twinkies.
The Creation of Twinkies
Twinkies were invented on April 6, 1930, by James Alexander Dewar, a Canadian baker who was working for the Illinois-based Continental Baking Company in the 1930s. Dewar created the idea for the Twinkies when he realized that the machines used for filling strawberry shortcakes with cream sat idle in the company’s manufacturing plant when strawberries were out of season. So, to make use of the machines, Dewar conceptualized a small snack that was filled with banana cream, and he would call his creation “Twinkie.” According to historians, the name of the Twinkie is inspired by a billboard that Dewar saw, and this billboard promoted a footwear product called “Twinkle Toe Shoes.” 
During the Second World War, the Continental Baking Company was forced to change the filling of the Twinkies from banana cream to vanilla cream, as bananas were being rationed for the soldiers fighting in the war. Fortunately, the change to vanilla cream filling made the Twinkies much more popular. After the war, the vanilla cream-filled Twinkie was already the best-selling product of the company, and because of the popularity of the said version, the original banana cream-filled version was phased out.
In 1968, the Continental Baking Company was purchased by ITT, a manufacturing company based in Connecticut. Then, in 1984, ITT was acquired by Ralston Purina, a conglomerate that specializes in animal feed, pet food, and consumer products. It was Ralston Purina who was responsible for the creation of Fruit and Cream Twinkies, a variant of the snack that has strawberry filling mixed with the original cream filling. Unfortunately, this version didn’t sell well, so Ralston Purina later discontinued the product.
During the early 2000s, a deep-fried version of Twinkies became popular in different areas of English and in Brooklyn, New York. According to Christopher Sell, a British businessman who claims to be the inventor of the deep-fried Twinkie, his invention is considered by many to be better than the original version of the Twinkie because of how the vanilla cream liquefies and is absorbed by the sponge cake
exterior whenever the snack is deep-fried. In addition to deep-frying the Twinkies, Sell also added a berry sauce to add more flavor to the snack. After the deep-fried Twinkie became popular in England, Clint Mullen, a restaurateur from Brooklyn, introduced the deep-fried snack at different state and country fairs in 2002. From there, deep-fried Twinkies became very popular in the United States and can now be found in different fairs, restaurants, food stalls, and ball games. Walmart even started selling frozen versions of the deep-fried Twinkie in 2016.
Hostess’s Twinkies and Bankruptcy
Hostess, a distributor of bakery products in the US that was originally known as Interstate Bakeries Corporation when it was founded in 1930, acquired the Continental Baking Company from Ralston Purina in 1995, which then allowed them to produce and sell Twinkies.
In 2005, Hostess revived the original banana cream-filled version of the Twinkie as a collaboration with the movie King Kong, a movie directed, produced, and co-written by Peter Jackson (who is more known as the director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy). The revival of the original version was proven to be successful, as Hostess saw the sales of the Twinkie rise to about 20% during the promotion period of King Kong. Due to popular demand, Hostess made the banana cream version of the Twinkies a mainstay in their snack lineup in 2007.
Unfortunately, in January 2012, Hostess filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, as their sales were going down not just for their Twinkies but also for their other products. The shutdown of Hostess was approved on November 21, 2012.
The low sales of the Twinkies in the early 2010s are most likely attributed to their change in size, as Hostess made them a little bit smaller compared to the original. From weighing 42.5 grams, the smaller version produced by Hostess weighed 39.5 grams. In addition to the smaller size, Hostess also increased the shelf life of Twinkies from 26 days to 45 days, thanks to a change in the formulation of the ingredients. Sadly, the changes weren’t appreciated by buyers, which then led to a decrease in sales.
The Return of Twinkies
It was reported in March 2013 that Twinkies could make a return in May of the same year, as it was rumored that two companies, namely Apollo Global Entertainment and Metropoulos & Co., would purchase Hostess out of bankruptcy. In May of that year, the rumors became true, as Apollo Global Entertainment and Metropoulos & Co. purchased Hostess for $410 million, thus allowing the two companies to produce and sell Twinkies. 
Apollo Global Entertainment would later go public under the name “Hostess Brands.” In September 2023, The J.M. Smucker Company (who is known for creating the Smucker’s brand of fruit preserves, syrups, and peanut butter) bought Hostess for $5.6 billion.
Here are three Twinkies variants produced today and are available for purchase online:
- Hostess Twinkies, Original, 2.7 Ounce, 6 Count
- Hostess Twinkies, Chocolate Lovers, 13.5oz, 10-count Box
- Hostess Twinkies, Pumpkin Spice, 2 Pack 10 Count Box
Impact of Twinkies on Pop Culture
Twinkies have been one of the most impactful snacks in pop culture, as it has been mentioned and referenced in various forms of media and entertainment. While the Twinkie was fairly popular in the United States, it became more known worldwide when the snack was referenced in the 1984 film “Ghostbusters.”
In the movie, a Twinkie was used to represent the normal level of psychokinetic energy in New York City. Then, a character said that based on a recent sample in the scene, the Twinkie that represents New York City would be more than 11 meters or 35 feet long, and another character replied, “That’s a big Twinkie.”  The scene and the said line in the film became popular, which then led to the increased demand for Twinkies in other countries.
Another movie that made Twinkies even more famous worldwide was the 2009 horror comedy film Zombieland, where Twinkies were actually one of the driving forces or goals of a character named Tallahassee (played by Woody Harrelson). In the movie, Tallahassee travels to different locations with Columbus (played by Jesse Eisenberg) in order to find Twinkies in a zombie-infested USA.
The infinite shelf life of the Twinkie, which has become a popular urban legend since the late 2000s, was referenced in Family Guy, a comedy animated TV show that started airing in 1999. According to the said urban legend, Twinkies can last for a very long time if they remain unopened, and some even suggest that they can last for fifty to one hundred years because of the chemicals used to make the snacks.
However, this urban legend has already been debunked by numerous scientists, who determined that the maximum shelf life of Twinkies is 26 days (later changed to 45 days due to Hostess adding stronger preservatives to the products).
Twinkies remain one of the most popular snacks not only in the United States but also in other countries in the world. Some people would say that the snack’s popularity may be due to how it is referenced in various films, TV shows, books, and video games, but those who are fans of Twinkies would say that Twinkies are popular because of how good these snacks are in terms of taste. If you haven’t tried a Twinkie yet, now may be the best time for you to do so.
 Cargile, C. (2021, April 5). This Week In Illinois History: Birth Of The Twinkie (April 6, 1930). Northern Public Radio. Retrieved November 3, 2023, from https://www.northernpublicradio.org/education/2021-04-05/this-week-in-illinois-history-birth-of-the-twinkie-april-6-1930
 Clark, M. (2002, May 15). Fry That Twinkie, but Hold the Chips. The New York Times. Retrieved November 3, 2023, from https://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/15/dining/fry-that-twinkie-but-hold-the-chips.html
 Moncel, B. (2019, October 2). The History of Twinkies. The Spruce Eats. Retrieved November 3, 2023, from https://www.thespruceeats.com/the-history-of-the-twinkie-1328770
 Hays, J. (2016, February 27). Celebrate the New Ghostbusters With Slime-Filled Twinkies. E! News. Retrieved November 3, 2023, from https://www.eonline.com/news/743624/celebrate-the-new-ghostbusters-with-slime-filled-twinkies