The Twinkie Diet

For those individuals who do not know what a Twinkie is; it’s a glorious golden sponge cake stuffed with a creamy filling. Credit goes, to James Alexander Dewar on April 6, 1930 when he realized several machines used for making cream-filled strawberry shortcake sat idle, in his factory, he filled them with banana cream and created a shortcake with cream in the inside instead of strawberry, and he coined it the “Twinkie”.

During World War II (WWII) bananas were rationed and so the company was forced to switch it’s recipe to vanilla cream which proved to be a popular change. The banana cream was not widely re-introduced, and was only occasionally found in limited time for promotions. Chances are you have heard that Twinkies have an infinite shelf life, which is a common urban legend. In reality Twinkies have a shelf life of 45 days maximum.

I think it is important to know that we almost lost the Twinkie on January 11, 2012 when the parent company “Hostess” filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and when on November 21, 2012 the U.S. bankruptcy judge approved the Hostess request to shut down, ending Twinkie production in the United States. On March 18, 2013, it was reported that Twinkies would return to store shelves in May 2013, along with other brands once made by Hostess. Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co purchased the company out of bankruptcy for $410 million, and on July 15, 2013 the Twinkie returned.

In 1984 the Twinkie became known worldwide in countries that did not sell the snack due to a reference in the film Ghostbusters. Since then other films have increased the popularity of the snack with films such as Die Hard (1988), Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011), and Zombieland (2009). The Twinkies in Zombieland were not real Twinkies either, they were made with cornmeal and other vegan-safe ingredients because Woody Harrelson is a vegan and raw-foodist and would not eat a real Twinkie.

In 2010, professor Mark Haub of Kansas State University, went on a “convenience store” diet consisting mainly of Twinkies, Oreos, and Doritos in attempt to demonstrate to his students that in weight loss, pure calories counting is what matters most, not nutritional value of the food. He consumed approximately 1800 calories per day, 800 calories less than his his typical daily consumption of 2600 calories. Over the course of the ten week experiment he accomplished the following:

  • He lost total of 27 pounds, 2.7 pounds per week, and weighed in at 174 pounds.
  • Lowered his body mass index (BMI) from 28.8 (overweight) to 24.9 (normal).
  • Decreased his body fat percentage from 33.4% to 24.9%.
  • Decreased the LDL (bad) cholesterol by 20%.
  • Increased his HDL (good) cholesterol by 20%.

In addition, Mark ate Little Debbie snack cakes, cereals, cookies, brownies, and other high calorie, low-nutrition foods usually found at convenience stores. However, despite calling it the Twinkie diet, Mark also consumed multivitamins, protein shakes and fresh vegetables. Only two-thirds of his intake actually came from junk food.

So what’s the point of this? Many people around the world do not have fresh fruits or vegetables readily available to them, and they rely on packaged foods. Limiting his caloric intake was a demonstration only, not a recommendation. Though there have been people who tried to mimic it, their success is unknown.

I personally think it is important to do your research, do what feels good for you, and don’t just jump on a fad just because someone was else is doing it and it’s worked for them. It has taken me a number of years to get to the breaking point and needing to learn or even re-learn what is good for me, and what is not.

Resources & Extra Credit:

Twinkie – Wikipedia

The History of America’s favorite Sponge Cake, the Twinkie

“Twinkie Diet”: Just a Starvation Diet in Disguise

The ‘Twinkie Diet’

The Twinkie Diet proved nothing new

18 Interesting Twinkie Facts

Professor Haub’s Diet Experiments

How Twinkies Work

UHF: Twinkie Wiener Sandwich

The Twinkie Diet – The Knope Clinic

Twinkie diet helps nutrition professor lose 27 pounds –

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