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Something to think about: Twinkie Quest

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From page A6 | November 30, 2012 |

I may have the second-to-the-last commercially available Twinkie in all of El Dorado County and I know where the last one is. Of course it might be gone by now.

After the Hostess Corporation declared itself out of business and began liquidation proceedings on Nov.15, Hostess products disappeared off grocery store shelves everywhere as consumers descended in hoarding hordes.

But, if you’ve ever ducked into a gas station mini-mart and bought a package of Hostess Sno Balls and a carton of chocolate milk, you know there are other places that harbor Twinkies. While I am not a Twinkie lover, I wanted one last package of chocolate Hostess CupCakes, a boon I’ve long denied myself in favor of lowering my cholesterol.

Into the world of gas station mini-marts I went, on my hunt for CupCakes, those fondant topped, cream-filled chocolate cakes of my childhood, the ones with the white squiggle on top. I pictured again peeling away the fondant icing and savoring it, then taking one bite out of the cake and sucking out the cream and finally eating the cake. Then, because there are two in each package, I would get to do it all again. The sugar rush that went unnoticed when I was 10 might precipitate a blackout now, but who cares?

I started the quest close to the Mountain Democrat and found that there are no Twinkies, Sno-Balls or CupCakes on Broadway — in fact there are no Hostess products at all, including bread and rolls. Not one of the mini-marts had Twinkies, although one had a copycat box of CupCakes.

“We haven’t had any deliveries from Hostess in seven days,” said Melissa Frenn, store manager for Save-Mart on Broadway. “When the news about the liquidation broke, people came in and bought $70 to $100 dollars of Hostess products.”

In search of CupCakes, I checked every one of the five mini-marts in Diamond Springs, arguably Mini-Mart capital of El Dorado County. No CupCakes, no Twinkies, no Hostess anywhere until … I was making my CupCakeless way out of an unnamed mini-mart when I spied a small box with the Hostess label. Inside the box were packages of chocolate doughnuts — and two Twinkies. They looked small and lonely. One looked a little mangled. I picked up the other one and took it triumphantly to the cash register. I may not like Twinkies, but I know people who would kill for them.

The clerk warned me that it was past its expiration date. I peeked at the cellophane and saw the date  of June 6. The year was unknown. Did it matter? It was a Twinkie, after all.Twinkies are reputed by aficionados to have a half-life of decades, possibly the only food substance that could, along with Spam, successfully survive an apocalypse. I waved off the warning. The clerk tried once more to save me.

“It is inedible,” he said. That is a matter of opinion which may not have anything to do with the expiration date. I indicated my willingess to purchase despite his well-intentioned warnings and he gallantly gave me the Twinkie. I left its brother in the box, generously allowing  someone else to purchase the final Hostess holdout, the last commercially available Twinkie in El Dorado County.

I brought Twinkie back to work and let everyone marvel over its rock-hard consistency. We touched it for luck and after seeing the $200,000 eBay price for a box of 10 Twinkies and a single Twinkie offered for $5,000, we’re putting it in the vault. Who knows, someday it might come in useful as a down payment on a house.

I know there are still CupCakes in the world and Twinkies squirreled away in dark cupboards, lockers, under the seats of cars or someone’s bed, forgotten along with the old socks and stuffed animals. I know that Little Debbie makes a CupCake copycat that might even taste better than the original. But, no, I want the real thing.

Someone, now that the mediation talks have fallen through, might buy up all the Hostess recipies and start cranking out Twinkies, CupCakes and Sno Balls once more, filling the world with mindless sugar. But, it won’t be the same.

On Nov.29, I found a coupon for Hostess Multi-Packs in the current Safeway ad. We rushed to Safeway that morning, coupon in hand. It was still dark outside. Everyone on my Christmas list was going to receive a gift-wrapped Twinkie. Special people would receive CupCakes.

The Safeway folks informed me that Hostess was out of business. I pointed to the ad. They shook their heads. It was a mistake. I left, Twinkiless. Guess I’ll have to give the folks on my list something less valuable–like Ipods.

I’ve learned a sad lesson from my Twinkie Quest: Cholesterol and weight be damned. If you don’t eat the CupCakes when you have the chance, one day, they just might disappear.

Wendy Schultz is a staff writer and columnist for the Mountain Democrat. Her column appears bi-weekly. 

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