Are Twinkies "All-Natural?" Sort Of.paulabernstein
There are some recognizable ingredients such as flour, sugar, water, eggs, whey and salt, but there are also others that are not only unrecognizable, but also nearly impossible to pronounce. So what are they exactly?
For his book “Twinkie, Deconstructed,” author Steve Ettlinger probed the issue. Ettlinger interviewed chemical engineers and industrial bakers. Then he ventured 1,600 feet below the surface of the Earth to see where and how Twinkie ingredients are mined, according to NBC News’ “Today Show.”
Ettlinger found that many of the ingredients in Twinkies are “more closely linked to rocks and petroleum than any of the four food groups.” So does that qualify Twinkies as “all-natural?” What exactly are Polysorbate 60, Red 40, mono and diglycerides and calcium sulfate anyway?
San Francisco-based photographer and dad Dwight Eschliman read Ettlinger’s book and became obsessed with the topic. Raised by a health-nut mom, Eschliman hadn’t even seen a Twinkie until he was at college. Now a parent himself, he wanted to figure out exactly what the snack food was made of. Eschliman photographed all 37 or so of the ingredients in a Twinkie for a book of his own, “37 Or So Ingredients.”
Not surprisingly, Twinkies owner Hostess Cakes didn’t help Eschliman with his researcher, but many former employees did. So what did he find?
Twinkies’ ingredients are “manufactured with fourteen of the top twenty chemicals made in the U.S.,” wrote Eschliman. Topping the list of ingredients are sulfuric acid, ethylene, lime, and phosphoric acid. Another ingredient, Calcium sulfate, is a “food-grade equivalent of plaster of Paris,” according to “Today.” In other words, just because many of these ingredients originate from the earth doesn’t mean they are necessarily “all-natural.”
As I continue to reiterate, I think all foods are okay in moderation, but reading this story makes me happy that my kids don’t even know what a Twinkie is.
Meanwhile, I plan to peruse The Family Kitchen to find how to create a homemade version of a snack food treat. Of course, just because you cook it at home doesn’t mean it is necessarily good for you, but at least you’ll know the ingredients.
photo: wikimedia/Larry D. Moore