Two cheers for Twinkies

By Walt Braun

We won’t pretend that Twinkies are good for you, even though the occasional defense attorney has found them useful. But neither junk food nor legal defenses get much junkier than Twinkies.

Still, it’s difficult to imagine a world without those small vanilla snack cakes with the tasty creamy filling. They’re tough to beat when it comes to satisfying a sweet tooth.

Yet Twinkies could be in trouble. Hostess, the company that makes Twinkies, is seeking bankruptcy protection. Lamentably, it’s not the first time the maker of Twinkies has encountered financial difficulties serious enough for bankruptcy consideration.

We’d like to believe that regardless of the fate of Hostess Brands, Twinkies, which have been around since 1930, will survive. They were important enough for President Bill Clinton, perhaps in his Bubba mode, to add to a time capsule. They’ve even been the subject of a photo exhibition involving the American Society of Media Photographers.

Although a nutrition professor lost 27 pounds on a highly publicized Twinkie diet, truth is Twinkies are diet killers. WeightWatchers gives them an F, and small wonder. Each cake has 145 calories, 41 of which come from fat. And despite Hostess’ claim that two cakes equal two servings, most people know better.

We’ll acknowledge that Twinkies have helped make some people obese, chubby, dumpy or at least portly. But we wonder whether that has always been the case and about the degree of Twinkies’ culpability.

Twinkies remind us of childhood, and they’re a happy memory. We’d guess that once upon a time they didn’t help make many children fat because once upon a time kids burned off calories actually running, playing and moving muscles that are dormant in a lot of kids today.

And although there might have been some Twinkies in the cabinet at home, kids once upon a time also ingested enough nutritious food — we’re thinking mostly of fruits and vegetables here — that the occasional sweet treat wasn’t a problem. And once upon a time Americans were content to eat in moderation. Failing to do so can lead to all sorts of medical complications, sometimes resulting in a ban on sweet snacks.

We wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Once in a while, it’s great to savor something that tastes good even if it isn’t particularly good for you. Like, well, Twinkies.

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