Twinkie Used For Food Preservative Lesson Still On Display 43 Years Later

Human beings are far from perfect specimens when it comes to staying healthy. Most of us think we’re pretty good at it, but even the most health-conscious among us recognize our shortcomings. We tend to prioritize health issues when they can no longer be ignored. For this reason, 3 million people around the United States visit urgent care centers every week.

Less in your face things don’t feel as, well, urgent. One of the biggest is our diets. We all like to try eating healthy, but cheat meals, fast foods, ready-to-eat meals, packaged foods, and every iteration down the list are convenient. A lot of them are delicious, too. A poor diet rarely manifests itself in health problems immediately, so we tend to be a lot more lax with our consumption habits.

science teacher in Maine wanted to make a point to his students about what we eat. To get his point across, he discussed preservatives in foods and used a Twinkie as an example. The teacher, Roger Bennatti, unwrapped the Twinkie and let it sit in the open to demonstrate how food preservatives work. This lesson was in 1976. In 2019, the Twinkie remains on display and fully intact after 43 years.

Bennatti retired from the school in 2004 but recalls how the experiment began after a student asked him how long a Twinkie would last outside of its packaging:

“I basically un-ripped the package, ate one of the Twinkies and then put the other up on the chalkboard. The Twinkie has become much like me. It’s older, it’s grayer and it’s more flaky,” Bennatti said.

Rather than the Twinkie still sitting out on the chalkboard, it’s kept in Libby Rosemeier’s office, a student of Bennatti’s who went on to become the assistant head of the school. Of course, the snack doesn’t look exactly the same after 43 years. It’s a little grayer and visibly older, but it’s remained relatively the same such that you can definitely tell that it’s a Twinkie.

This says something about the strength of preservatives. However, a spokesperson for Hostess, the company that makes Twinkies, says that modern Twinkies have a 65-day shelf life. Every year, 128,000 Americans go to the hospital because of food-borne illnesses, so let’s not think of nibbling on 43-year-old pastries, but the experiment is certainly food for thought. We should be considering the additives in our foods that allow such preservation to be possible. This is no dig against Twinkies, but it stands to be said that it’s not natural for a food to be largely preserved after 43 years.

Especially true of younger children, monitoring a healthy diet is important to development. Of course, this doesn’t mean the occasional sugary treat is forbidden, but care must be taken. Approximately 40% of children have dental cavities before they even reach kindergarten. Sugary snacks, while favored and delicious, are one of the most sinister culprits.

We don’t need to skip snack time, just be aware of what you’re eating and making healthy balance habitual.

Comments

  1. My oldest daughter drank so much milk as a kid it destroyed her enamel on her teeth. So many things to think about! Great info.

  2. Wow! This is crazy! We all know we shouldn’t eat junk. But then why does cake taste so much better than vegetables! Thanks so much for these reminders! It’s always going to be “easier” and less expensive to eat junk than to eat healthy. The only way to stay on track is to plan our meals in advance! If you want a little help on the subject, feel free to read my related post. https://paradoxicalperfectionist.com/create-a-meal-plan-that-works/

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