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BILL GREENBLATT/UPI/Landov

10 Twinkie Facts for the Great Return

BILL GREENBLATT/UPI/Landov
BILL GREENBLATT/UPI/Landov

They're calling it The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever—"they" being the marketing folks behind the resurrection of Twinkies. The future of Twinkies looks a lot brighter than it did last November, when Hostess declared bankruptcy. Now that the famous sponge cake is returning to shelves, let's look back to the glory days.

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. Previously, Hostess said you shouldn't eat one after it's been sitting around for 25 days. But under new management, things are different! The new shelf life is 45 days, according to TIME, and the new owners are willing to freeze Twinkies for about 10% of retailers, to allow stores to alter the expiration dates.

5. But you're still 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.

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

10. These new Twinkies are for the bros. "We want to go beyond just the loyal fans to some of those people who should be fans," said Dave Lubeck, EVP of Bernstein-Rien, which created the new advertising campaign, in an interview with TIME. "So we’re really trying to move beyond the grocery store consumers into the convenience store target, which is a younger male."

* * *
Is anyone rushing out to get Twinkies today? Or are Twinkies mostly just something people like to talk about on the Internet?

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How Do You Stress the Word: THANKSgiving or ThanksGIVing?
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iStock

Here’s something else to stress about for Thanksgiving: where to put the stress in the word Thanksgiving.

If you’re from California, Iowa, or Delaware, you probably say ThanksGIVing, with the primary stress on the second syllable. If you’re from Georgia, Tennessee, or the Texas Panhandle, you probably say THANKSgiving, with the primary stress on the first syllable.

This north-south divide on syllable stress is found for other words like umbrella, guitar, insurance, and pecan. However, those words are borrowed from other languages (Italian, Spanish, French). Sometimes, in the borrowing process, competing stress patterns settle into regional differences. Just as some borrowed words get first syllable stress in the South and second syllable stress in the North, French words like garage and ballet get first syllable stress in the UK and second syllable stress in the U.S.

Thanksgiving, however, is an English word through and through. And if it behaved like a normal English word, it would have stress on the first syllable. Consider other words with the same noun-gerund structure just like it: SEAfaring, BAbysitting, HANDwriting, BULLfighting, BIRDwatching, HOMEcoming, ALMSgiving. The stress is always up front, on the noun. Why, in Thanksgiving alone, would stress shift to the GIVE?

The shift to the ThanksGIVing pronunciation is a bit of a mystery. Linguist John McWhorter has suggested that the loss of the stress on thanks has to do with a change in our concept of the holiday, that we “don’t truly think about Thanksgiving as being about thankfulness anymore.” This kind of thing can happen when a word takes on a new, more abstract sense. When we use outgoing for mail that is literally going out, we are likely to stress the OUT. When we use it as a description of someone’s personality ("She's so outgoing!"), the stress might show up on the GO. Stress can shift with meaning.

But the stress shift might not be solely connected to the entrenchment of our turkey-eating rituals. The thanksGIVing stress pattern seems to have pre-dated the institution of the American holiday, according to an analysis of the meter of English poems by Mark Liberman at Language Log. ThanksGIVing has been around at least since the 17th century. However you say it, there is precedent to back you up. And room enough to focus on both the thanks and the giving.

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Watch Boris Karloff's 1966 Coffee Commercial
TAKWest, Youtube
TAKWest, Youtube

Horror legend Boris Karloff is famous for playing mummies, mad scientists, and of course, Frankenstein’s creation. In 1930, Karloff cemented the modern image of the monster—with its rectangular forehead, bolted neck, and enormous boots (allegedly weighing in at 11 pounds each)—in the minds of audiences.

But the horror icon, who was born 130 years ago today, also had a sense of humor. The actor appeared in numerous comedies, and even famously played a Boris Karloff look-alike (who’s offended when he’s mistaken for Karloff) in the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace

In the ’60s, Karloff also put his comedic chops to work in a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee. The strange commercial, set in a spooky mansion, plays out like a movie scene, in which Karloff and the viewer are co-stars. Subtitles on the bottom of the screen feed the viewer lines, and Karloff responds accordingly. 

Watch the commercial below to see the British star selling coffee—and read your lines aloud to feel like you’re “acting” alongside Karloff. 

[h/t: Retroist]

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