Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This is the day!

On this day, way back in 1930, James A. Dewar, invented what came to be known as the Twinkie. Why? It was somewhat serendipitous, actually. Several of the machines that were normally used to make cream-filled strawberry shortcake were sitting idle because strawberries were out of season.

Not to be stopped by a simple lack of strawberries, Dewar came up with something even better - banana cream – and called it the Twinkie. That filling didn’t survive in the Twinkie after World War II began, because bananas were rationed, and Hostess decided to switch to vanilla cream. The vanilla cream filling became so popular that Hostess nixed the banana cream idea and continues to use vanilla cream in Twinkies today.

According to Wikipedia, common urban legend claims that Twinkies have a shelf life of forever, or can last for a relatively long time of ten, fifty, or one hundred years due to chemicals used in production. While this urban legend is false, they can last a relatively long time (25 days or so), due to the fact that Twinkies are made without dairy products and thus spoil more slowly than most bakery items.

Ever deep fry your Twinkie?

A deep-fried Twinkie involves freezing the cake, dipping it into batter, and deep frying it. It was described by a The New York Times story in this way: "Something magical occurs when the pastry hits the hot oil. The creamy white vegetable shortening filling liquefies, impregnating the sponge cake with its luscious vanilla flavor. The cake itself softens and warms, nearly melting, contrasting with the crisp, deep-fried crust in a buttery and suave way. The piece de resistance, however, is a ruby-hued berry sauce, adding a tart sophistication to all that airy sugary goodness."

The Texas State Fair had introduced the fried Twinkie to great popular acclaim, and the notion spread to other state fairs across the U.S., as well as some establishments that specialize in fried foods. Fried Twinkies are sold throughout the U.S. in state fairs, as well as ball park games.

Although variations exist, the deep-fried Twinkie is usually prepared with a batter intended for fish, typically consisting of flour, egg, and vinegar. Prior to dipping, a wooden or plastic stick is often inserted through one end (to allow the consumer to hold it), and the Twinkie is then frozen overnight to prevent melting while being deep fried. After coating, conventional cooking oil is typically used.

The deep-fried Twinkie is usually topped with powdered sugar. It is sometimes accompanied by a fruit dipping sauce, frequently raspberry, although some restaurants may use chocolate or caramel sauce. A scoop of vanilla ice cream is sometimes added.

My hat is off to James A. Dewar for inventing one of my favorite snacks. Long live the Twinkie! I think I'll run out and buy a box as soon as I post this.