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10 Twinkie Talking Points

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It's a sad day for Twinkie enthusiasts. Hostess Brands announced that it's asking a federal bankruptcy court for permission to shut down operations. Another company could swoop in and resurrect the more popular products, but there is no guarantee. So if you're talking Twinkies today, here are some better moments in the snack's history.

1. Twinkies were invented because a bakery manager named James Dewar wanted to get more use out of his shortcake pans. He noticed that he was only pulling those particular pans out of his cupboard during the summer strawberry season and wondered if he was really getting enough bang for his buck out of them. The Continental Baking Company where he was employed was looking for a new, cheap snack to satisfy Depression-Era buyers without emptying their pockets, so Dewar combined the neglected shortcake pans with a recipe that was cheap to make and came up with the Twinkie.

2. Back in those days, Twinkies were sold two for five cents...

3. ...which was a good price if Dewar wanted to buy his own creation in a store, because he never saw a penny of royalties from inventing the Twinkie or naming them. They were named after he spotted a billboard advertising "Twinkle Toe Shoes."

4. Forget hoarding. Despite that persistent urban legend, Twinkies do have a shelf life. You're not going to want to eat one after it's been sitting around for 25 days, according to Hostess.

5. So you're definitely not going to want to eat the one the Clintons put in the Millennium Time Capsule in 1999. It's scheduled to be opened in 2100.

6. The Twinkie originally had a banana cream filling instead of the vanilla cream we know and love today. Bananas became scarce during WWII, so Hostess made a substitution. Vanilla cream was so popular they decided to make it a mainstay.

7. Love Twinkies? You're in good company. Archie Bunker did too; his famous temper flared up whenever Edith forgot to put one in his lunchbox. And Tallahassee from Zombieland was perpetually on the hunt for the cream-filled spongecakes. When he finally finds his Holy Grail at the end of the movie, he gleefully sinks his teeth into it... but in real life, Woody Harrelson wouldn't eat a real Twinkie. He's a vegan and Twinkies do contain eggs and beef fat. Vegan Twinkies had to be made for the scene.

8. Deep-fried Twinkies are terrible for you, but they're delightful. You can get pretty much anything deep-fried on a stick at the Iowa State Fair and I think I have tried most of them. The Mars Bar is good, the HoHos are decent, Oreos are only so-so. But the Twinkie? The deep-fried Twinkie is like biting into a little slice of batter-covered heaven. But if you're counting calories, you'd better stick with the normal version - a Twinkie right out of the package is 150 calories, whereas the battered version will set you back 425 calories. And let's not even talk about the fat content.

9. Hostess used to offer recipes for the Twinkie-misu and Twinkie sushi. Sadly, that part of the Hostess website doesn't appear to be working.

10. Do you remember Twinkie the Kid? The official mascot could wrangle you up a Twinkie in the blink of an eye. He has some lesser-known Hostess cohorts including Captain Cupcake, Happy Ho Ho and Fruit Pie the Magician.

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College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy
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One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

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North America: East or West Coast?
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