Contrary to the long-held belief that Twinkies never go bad, the beleaguered Hostess snacks don't actually last forever. But when they triumphantly return to supermarket shelves next week, they'll have double the shelf life, lasting 45 days.
More than 50 million Twinkies will return to stores Monday, and a new (though mysterious) improvement will make the yellow snack cakes last almost three weeks longer than their previous shelf life of 26 days. If you take into account the fact that Hostess will ship some 10% of the cakes frozen, the life of the Twinkie is in some cases further extended. Stores will stamp their own expiration dates on the snacks. According to Hostess, freezing will not affect the taste.
Hannah Arnold, a spokesperson for the troubled pastry maker, which shuttered its operations in November after failing to reach an agreement with the bakers' union, told Fast Company the "improvement was made under the old company" back in November before the liquidation and sale of Hostess assets. "So, nothing new here," she asserted.
Hostess remains mum on what exactly has changed about its recipe, but Arnold insisted customers will "have the same wonderfully delicious experience that has made it the gold standard of snack cakes for generations." However, writer Steve Ettlinger has shed some light on what's inside the golden pastry. In a Q-and-A with The New York Times last year, Ettlinger, author of the book "Twinkie, Deconstructed," noted that Twinkies' ingredients—for the old recipe, at least—included phosphoric acid (a common ingredient in food processing that's also used in explosives), five different types of rocks (gypsum, trona, limestone, phosphorus ore and salt), and cellulose gum, among other delights.
The exact recipe, though, remains a Hostess secret.
[Image: Flickr user Christian Cable]