There is a long-standing myth that Twinkies, one of the most popular snack cakes of America, never go bad.
Matthew Kasson is a plant pathologist and mycologist at West Virginia University. When he saw the photos of some odd-looking Twinkies that the former biology professor Colin Purrington had shared on Twitter, he became curious.
Purrington has unearthed some Twinkies he had kept in his basement ever since 2012. Hoping that the preservative-filled sweets had somehow survived, the former professor took a bite – and regreted soon after.
“The one I bit into was chewy, unsweet, and smelled like rotting ginkgo fruit,” he tweeted. “I gagged. I have nobody to blame but myself — the box clearly warned, “Best Used by Nov 26th” (2012).”
Seeing the photos, Kasson and his colleague, Brian Lovett, wanted to analyze the Twinkies better. This way, Purrington mailed them a few Twinkies for them to analyze. Using a bone-marrow biopsy tool, the scientists drilled into the core of the cakes and extracted long cross-sections.
The scientists discovered that one of the Twinkies contained cladosporium, a type of kitchen mould. However, another Twinkie had no mold whatsoever – most likely because the mold had eaten through the cake and died.
“We just thought that some foods were invincible”, Kasson said. As it turns out, the long-standing myth that Twinkies can stay edible for decades has been debunked. In fact, the shelf life of such a cake averages about 25 days.
However, there are some old Twinkies out there who have stood the test of time. For instance, the 44 year old Twinkie you can find at the George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill, Maine is still standing strong, its only downside being that is is now a little dry.
Maybe the basement where Colin had these stored had the right conditions for fungal colonisation,” Kasson said.
Foto – Matthew Kasson/Twitter