Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chris Smith's To Kill a Mockingbird Blog

A Lesson in Longevity -- Twinkies

To Kill A Mockingbird is set in a tumultuous time in American history – the Great Depression. The book ends in 1935 when Scout Finch is roughly nine years of age.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know there is plenty of food mentioned in the book, but off the page, in the real world, quite a bit was happening in the realm of food – many new inventions, technologies and policies.
One of those technological innovations was the Twinkie!

Twinkies, produced by The Continental Baking Company in Indianapolis, were born in 1930 and they were quite different from the ones we know today. The original version was a cream-filled strawberry shortcake. They were produced only when strawberries were in season.

One of the bakers came up with an idea to create a banana filling. The along came World War II and a banana shortage, so the banana filling became vanilla, which is closer to the version of today.

The eggs, milk and butter in early Twinkies gave them a shelf life of only two days. The original Twinkies sold for a nickel, and they were popular. Store shelves had to be replenished every other day, but the practice was expensive. So, the need for a longer shelf life led to many changes in the Twinkie recipe. Mostly because of packaging, today’s Twinkies have a shelf life of about 25 days.

Many myths have sprung up around the Twinkie's longevity, claiming that it stays fresh for decades, would survive a nuclear war, and that the company is still selling off the original batch made in 1930. None are true, but this one is: Twinkies get their name from a product manufactured and sold in 1930 – Twinkle-Toe Shoes.