A Disturbing Twinkie That Has — So Far — Defied Science



Photographer Colin Purrington purchased a box of Twinkies back in 2012 for sentimental reasons when he heard that Hostess Brands was going bankrupt and Twinkies might disappear forever. Everybody knows that when there is no dessert in the house and you get desperate enough, you’ll go to any lengths to satisfy your sweet tooth. For Colin that was a trip to the basement, where he retrieved the old box of snack cakes, intending to enjoy several. Although the official shelf life of the Twinkies was a mere 45 days, Colin was confident as he opened the first one. It looked perfectly fine, but when he took a bite…..”It tasted like an old sock.” That’s when he examined the other Twinkies. Two looked weird. One had a dark-colored blemish the size of a quarter, while the other was gray, shrunken and wrinkly — like a dried morel mushroom. After posting a photo of the Twinkies on social media, Colin was contacted by scientists Brian Lovett and Matt Kasson of West Virginia University, who were interested in the expired Twinkies for their mold value. It turns out they test how well mold grows to assist the food industry in developing the ability to make foods that have a long shelf life. After success with growing mold in Peeps, the researchers wanted to attack the 8-year-old Twinkies. Colin was only too happy to mail them the snack cakes. Meanwhile, he has reflected on his Twinkie experience, recalling that while his father had no objection to eating moldy foods, his mother generally treated "sell-by" dates with more respect.

 

Fresh Twinkie on the right, 8-year-old Twinkie on the left