As American confectionery company ‘Hostess’ faces financial troubles I am reminded of all the cultural significance of their most popular product, highlighted rather well here. U.S TV and film exposes us to a number of their exclusive products; I’ve long been intrigued by Taco Bell, Corn Dogs* and Captain Crunch. But it was the Twinkie that most captivated me, that cream-filled, tubular, golden cake that came up again and again. If the Ghostbusters, Peter Griffin, Woody Harrelson, Homer Simpson and the kid from the Iron Giant all recommend them how could they not be God’s greatest gift to man? Alas, false promises! Let me tell you my tragic story.
It was summer. My friend and I were attending PC and Indie Games convention, Rezzed. It was a scene of wonder, widescreen monitors displaying games both big and small, advanced peripherals everywhere as like-minded folks played the next underground hit, in a side-room people were playing complicated, intriguing board games. There was free Mountain Dew too. “This is it.” I thought, my eyes wide with wonder. “I’m living the dream.” At the side of the room was a small kiosk. ‘Cybercandy’, it said above the stall. It was a sweet shop, full of goodies uncommon on these isles. This being a gathering of gamers there were branded products, Street Fighter fizzy drinks and Mario chocolate. They hadn’t gaged their audience properly though. This being a building full of PC and Indie aficionados they would have been better off selling ‘World of Warcrunch’ and ‘Braidade’.
What they specialised in though were treats normally only available in the US, ‘Milk Duds’, ‘Coconut M&Ms’, ‘Coca Cola Vanilla’**. All impressive, all a rip-off. The person who started the business must be laughing. All one needs to do is load up a stock of American treats then fly them over to the UK and sell them at sometimes as much as four times the price. Amid all the Jolly Ranchers, Froot Loops and Hershey Bars, in the middle of the room, was that Holy Grail of processed confectionery, a pile of Twinkies. We marvelled. Right before our eyes was the thing we’d heard so much about for years, the thing we’d watched people more fortunate than us gorge themselves upon for so long, withheld from us perhaps due to some long-held post-colonial disdain. It was a gift from the colonies and we had to have it.
One pound and eighty pence! 180 pennies! That was the price for this little slice of Heaven! We were in the grip of Capitalism though, there was no going back. We pooled our money and split the Twinkie in half. I looked down at the creamy, doughy wonder and took a bite…
Rubbish! Boring! A horrible disappointment! You knew how this tragic story would end. The Twinkie wasn’t bad, it was just severely lacking. There wasn’t much to it, just some dull sponge and a small sliver of cream. The images of the cake oozing creamy filling like blood from a gunshot wound were all lies. You’d be better off buying these, they’re far cheaper and have raspberry in too. I was distraught. Like a European immigrant come to America to make their way in the New World only to find life an inescapable money pit. I was mentally traumatised, I’m still not convinced that it wasn’t good and that there must have just been something wrong with me. Perhaps one day I’ll fall prey to the deceit again like the fool I am. Just another cog in the giant machine that is Western Commercialism. Learn from me, folks. Don’t follow your sugared dreams, they’ll only end in salty tears.
*Actually just a battered sausage on a stick
**True Story-They sold this in the UK for a while about 8 years ago. I loved it, greatest drink in the world. After a short period however they moved it on. Not realising it was limited edition, I spent years looking for it in shops. When we saw a can of it that day I had to buy it, even if it was a ludicrously expensive £1.90. Needless to say I was disappointed.