Take Two for November 16, 2012

How long is the shelf life of a Twinkie?

Hostess Twinkies Celebrate 75th Anniversary

Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Four of the Twinkies that drove Hostess Brands into a second bankruptcy since 2004.

Convenience stores may never be the same.

Hostess, the makers of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Snoballs, is going ahead with plans to shut down operation and layoff its more than 18,000 employees.

The company claims it couldn't weather the financial hit it took after workers went on a nation wide strike last week. Nevertheless, Hostess still has some fans, especially when it comes to their signature treat the Twinkie.

If the urban legend that Twinkies have an indefinite shelf life is to be believed, anyone worried about losing their Twinkie fix could just buy a box or two now and save them for the future. But do they really last forever? 

I think we've all heard the rumor that a Twinkie will last longer than the plastic it's packaged in, or that the Hostess over-produced the little cakes in the '80s and have been selling that original batch in new packaging ever since.

That's all fluff, but Twinkies do have an sell-by window, and it's only about 25 days. After about a month Twinkies start to get hard and brittle.   

Steve Ettlinger, author of the book "Twinkie, Deconstructed," says Twinkies get hard, but that doesn't mean you can't eat them.

"I've got some that are 8 years old. They are hard but they are not spoiled," he said. 

So Twinkies could last 30 years, but they just might not be that fun to eat. And one thing different about Twinkies is they don't rot. 

Ettlinger says there are around 39 ingredients in Twinkies and none of them are fresh. It's stuff like Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Soy Lecithin and Cellulose Gum.

There is some flour, processed whey and each Twinkie may have about 1/500th of an egg in it, but the ingredients are stable enough that they may get stale but they don't seem to rot.

So if you want to stock up now go ahead, but just make sure you've got a strong jaw.


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