Twinkies, the equally loved and reviled snack cake -- really, cakes, as we all know, since there are two of them in a package -- have returned to grocery store shelves.
As a recovering Twinkaholic, I won't be running out to buy any. In high school, I bought them at the train station before going home, gobbling them fast and wiping away all evidence before my mother, one of the pioneers of the baked-not-fried movement, saw me. Later, in college and early adulthood, those creamy little cakes continued to call out to me. But finally I resisted once and for all. I'm proud to say I'm about 30 years Twinkie-free.
Nonetheless, Twinkies get a bad rap. With the end of their bankruptcy-triggered hiatus from the marketplace on Monday, there's also been a return of all the trash-talking about Twinkies being junk food full of sugar, Polysorbate 60, monoglycerides and other ominous-sounding ingredients, which, basically, keep the Twinkie emulsified as well as creamy.
But troubling and fattening as all that sounds, consider the country's decade-long obsession with cupcakes of all sizes, flavors and prices. A $5 bakery cupcake on steroids that comes in at no less than 400 calories will do far more damage to your waistline and daily sugar intake than a lowly 150-calorie Twinkie cake ever did.
And here's even better news: While the Twinkie was away, it trimmed down too. Each Twinkie cake now weighs about 4 grams and has 15 calories less than it did last fall when it left stores. (It's now 135 calories a cake.) I'd say that's time well spent getting Twinkies into better shape.
Still, I won't be going back to that yummy spongy oblong cake with the creamy center. As modest a splurge as it may be, that yellow cake and white icing, for me, is simply a gateway to more yellow cake with white icing.