You may have no choice but to put down the Twinkie.
The whole world probably knows by now that Hostess Cupcakes,makers of snacks such as Twinkies, Ding-Dongs, Ho-Hos, and Wonder Bread, is going out of business. The 82-year-old company is based in Irving, TX (not too far from Dallas), and has 33 plants, all of which have been closed. 18,500 employees are losing their jobs (why do these things always seem to happen right before the holidays)?
One of the reasons the company is closing is because, according to Reuters, striking bakery workers refused to agree to an 8% paycut, a 20% increase in healthcare costs, closure of a number of plants, and other changes to benefits. For those 18,500 employees, I feel bad. I hope they find new, better-paying work soon.
But for the death of the Twinkie and the other nutritionally disasatrous junk food Hostess sells, I can't be sorry. Sure, a lot of people have nostalgia associated with the brand name junk that brightened up their school lunch boxes. I certainly ate my share of Twinkies, Ding-Dongs, and Little Debbie snack cakes (which were cheaper than Hostess, as I recall) as a kid. But now, more educated about nutrition, I'm happy to see a junk food brand bite the dust.
Amid all the political arguments about health care, insurance, the economy, and America going to hell in a handbasket, we should rejoice to see the end of sugar and chemical laden crap food. We should continue to press for more education about nutrition, and better availability of real food, especially in schools.
As I sit here and plan my decadent Thanksgiving menu, I think back to the holidays of my childhood, when quite a lot of our food came out of cans and packages. No wonder I didn't like veggies much. They were nasty. Gray, limp asparagus and peas boiled to mush and poured out of a watery can bear no resemblance to their crisp, green, flavorful origins. Sure, I liked green beans, as long as they were drenched in Cream of Mushroom soup topped with a breaded, fried onion concoction or thousands of calories' worth of crumbled up Ritz crackers. Naturally sweet yams, soaked in syrup in their can and topped with more sugar in the form of marshmallows. Nobody really liked the jellied cranberry sauce, squeezed from its can and still bearing the ridges of its container, but we had it anyway, because it was traditional. I never liked mincemeat pie, either, until I made it from scratch and realized that, far from a black cube of unrecognizable stuff which might or might not have contained actual meat, REAL mincemeat is a delicious combination of fruit and spices, and reasonably healthy, too, especially if you cut all but a tiny bit of the sugar the recipes call for.
If I --- a child who grew up on the SAD diet, eating grilled sandwiches made of the cheapest white bread and hunks of Velveeta cheese, who thought Spam was a treat, with a Maryland Club coffee can full of bacon grease on the stove which was used to cook whenever we didn't use Crisco --- if I can re-educate my palate to despise the taste of artificial ingredients and find food that is as close to the way Mother Nature made it the most delicious, anybody can, really. And the more I learn, the more I believe it's not only the healthiest thing, but also the most economically sound and best for the environment and our country sort of thing to do.
So as I plan that decadent Thanksgiving menu, except for a few choice items, I'm taking out extra sugar and substituting lower or no fat products (like yogurt or almond milk for dairy, and apples or bananas for fat in baked goods). I'm experimenting with gluten-free alternatives, since my mom has recently decided to try gluten-free eating and gluten is the latest, greatest nutritional demon. All my decadences will be made from scratch, using high quality ingredients -- no preservatives, artificial colors, or things I can't pronounce. And even if I didn't enjoy cooking gourmet meals from scratch, even if I wanted a much quicker, easier, less messy celebration, it could be easily done without involving chemical shortcuts. Roasting veggies and a turkey, throwing together a great fall salad, whipping up some biscuits ... easy peasy. Even a simple pumpkin pie is actually a pretty healthy and extremely easy dessert!
No plant-manufactured assembly-line snack cakes have passed my threshold or my lips for more years than I can remember, nor shall they. But if you're a diehard Twinkie fan, don't despair. Someone is sure to buy up the best-selling brands and continue making them. And even if the brand does become extinct, what with all the chemicals and preservatives in Twinkies, you can hoard whatever you can find on the shelves now --- they'll last you the rest of your life, easy. Heck, if you buy enough, your grandkids will be able to eat them.
Of course, I'm hoping your grandkids will have better taste. ;)