First of all, there's no time a person feels sillier than when they have to mention the word 'Twinkie.' It wouldn't be a far stretch to presume that half the reason why this snack cake is so popular is due to its name, which is, perhaps, the most recognized name for a snack in the world. It's so popular that it's been used in a plethora of pop culture references, including the movie Zombieland, in which one of the storylines included finding Twinkies to be the main goal. The funny thing is that in a post-apocalyptic world, it wouldn't at all be surprising to have people searching for the one food that supposedly lasts a lifetime (but this is not true, they will eventually expire).


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Not surprisingly, Twinkies have a long history that includes many quirks, not unlike the nature of the snack, itself. From a name inspired by shoes to a filling that few remember, here's everything you never thought you needed to know about the Twinkie.

Named After A Shoe

Originally, the cream-filled sponge cake was meant to take the name Little Shortcake Fingers. It was at this time that Twinkies (before they were called Twinkies) were being made by the Continental Baking Company, with James Dewar at the helm as the plant manager. For six weeks out of the year, these sponge cakes were actually filled with a strawberry filling; obviously, strawberries are not in season year-round, so this left a void at the plant when strawberry-filled cakes were not being made. The solution to this problem was to switch to another type of filling that could be made during the off-peak season, and the answer came in the flavor 'banana.' During the Great Depression, these snack cakes are what kept the company afloat since their fate was not left up to an out-of-season berry.

However, the banana cream filling also came with its challenges as the fruit was rationed during WWII. Therefore, the company once again had to make changes, some of which led to the name change of Hostess Brands. Ultimately, the filling that stuck was a simple vanilla flavor which was easy to keep up with in terms of demand and was delicious all the same. Plus, it appealed to those who didn't necessarily enjoy the strong flavor of bananas. So, where did the name 'Twinkie' come from? As it turns out, Dewar had thought of the concept before he thought of an actual name - this changed after he passed a billboard for shoes that read 'Twinkle Toe Shoes,' and, thus, the name 'Twinkie' was born of the unusual, and catchy, advertisement.

Twinkie Shelf-Life

Contrary to popular belief, Twinkies will eventually expire. While they have an unusually long shelf life for a cake, this doesn't mean that they never go bad or stale. This rumor likely came from the fact that when Twinkies were first created, they had a shelf life of about 26 days. After Hostess went out of business for a short time, they returned, with their Twinkies, and new expiration date - this new date began roughly 45 days after the Twinkie is made and packaged.

Another fun fact: the original shelf-life of a Twinkie was only two days. The new and extended timeline can be attributed to the preservatives that are now added to snack cakes to keep them fresher for a longer amount of time. While a bit unnerving, it's good to know that you've got more than a month on that box of Twinkies in the pantry.

The Inaccurate 'Twinkie Defense'

When Dan White was on trial for the murders of Mayor George Moscone of San Francisco and Supervisor Harvey Milk, there was a frenzy over the fact that Twinkies (and Coke soda) were responsible for leading to his mental illness, which was explained as stemming from incredibly poor food choices. While the media brought those following the case on a wild ride with this 'Twinkie Defense,' it was actually determined that Twinkies, specifically, had nothing to do with White's mental illness and that his defense team never actually claimed it as such.

In reality, the defense spoke of White's 'diminished capacity,' which, in turn, was eaten up by the media after the term 'junk food' was used in conjunction. While a psychiatrist at the trial spoke of Twinkies and Coke, specifically, as aiding in worsening the depression that White felt, it was in no means related to, or the cause of, his murderous rage. Unfortunately, this misinformation is what was reported and to this day, it's still considered a legitimate piece of news with Twinkies at the forefront.

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