Myth

Twinkies last forever.

Do Twinkies Last Forever? What is the Shelf Life of a Twinkie?

Twinkies don’t last forever, but they can go a long time without spoiling (up to 30 years by one estimate). The “sell-by” shelf life of a Twinkie is 45 days, after that they go hard and brittle. However, due to the ingredients, a Twinkie won’t spoil for decades.[1][2]

According to “Twinkie, Deconstructed” by Steve Ettlinger, a Twinkie can last up to 30 years… but it will be hard and brittle.

So in other words, it isn’t true that Twinkies last forever, especially not in their original delicious state, but there is some truth to the myth, as they can last a heck of a long time due to their ingredients.

What is in a Twinkie?

Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour [Flour, Reduced Iron, B Vitamins (Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Folic Acid)], Corn Syrup, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable and/or Animal Shortening (Soybean, Cottonseed and/or Canola Oil, Beef Fat), Whole Eggs, Dextrose. Contains 2% or Less of: Modified Corn Starch, Glucose, Leavenings (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate), Sweet Dairy Whey, Soy Protein Isolate, Calcium and Sodium Caseinate, Salt, Mono and Diglycerides, Polysorbate 60, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour, Cornstarch, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Sorbic Acid (to Retain Freshness), Yellow 5, Red 40.

How Long Do Twinkies Last?

Twinkies will be good for 25 – 45 days.

Twinkies may be edible for up to 30 years (maybe longer). <—- I’m basing this on the book and videos below.

What Happens to a Twinkie After Time?

The Twinkie gets hard and brittle, and the outside and filling will start to brown over time… but do note that the video below with a 20 year old Twinkie shows a Twinkie that hasn’t browned and described the 20 year old Twinkie like this, “it tastes like a Twinkie but not as fresh.” (see the video below).

How do We Know?

Aside from using logic, most of what is known about the shelf life of Twinkies comes from the book “Twinkie, Deconstructed” by Steve Ettlinger. More than one source has had fun conveying what Steve wrote (including us), but ultimately the research was mostly put in from him.

That said, there are some other places to look, for example the video below shows a 27 year old Twinkie (and the video below that a 20 year old Twinkie).

Opening up a 27 year old Twinkie. What does a 27 year old Twinkie look like? Watch the video. Want to know what it tastes like? Well, me too, but this guy doesn’t have the guts.

Eating a 20 Year Old Hostess Twinkie. This guy has the guts to eat an old Twinkie.



Conclusion

Twinkies don’t last forever, but they can last a long time without spoiling.


Citations

  1. Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, M ined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated into What America Eats. Steve Ettlinger. <—– this link points to the book’s plug on his website.
  2. The Science Of Twinkies: How Do They Last So Darned Long? NPR.org.


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