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Quest for a Kosher Twinkie

By Jonathan A. Bresman

MY NAME IS JON. I'm an American citizen, and I've never had a Twinkie. For some insane reason they have animal shortening in them. And if you keep kosher, pigs, no matter what form they are in, are a definite no-no. I've always wanted a Twinkie. I feel like I am missing out on a collective American cultural phenomenon (sort of like McDonald's, another thing I miss out on, which according to a Gentile friend of mine, "sucks for you!").

When I was in elementary school, I used to drool while watching my Gentile and assimilated Jewish friends greedily remove any one of the multitude of Hostess cakes from their "Dukes of Hazzard" lunchboxes and quickly gorge themselves upon the cream filled delights. It seemed to me that, like the cartoon commercial claimed--everyone got "A big delight out of every bite of Hostess Cupcakes." That tempting creamy middle really did seem to revitalize all those lucky enough to devour it, and gave them the requisite sugar rush they needed to conquer the playset from the older, more powerful second-graders.

To this very day, whenever I go shopping, I utter a brief prayer and with great anticipation, check the ingredients on a Twinkie wrapping hoping that the company would get rid of the "may contain vegetable and/or animal shortening" clause and shorten it to just "vegetable shortening." I have yet to be so lucky.

When is Hostess going to wise up and realize that it could turn a pretty profit if only they'd make the changes necessary to include in its market all us Jews who have never had a chocolate Ho-Ho?

WE HAVE PLENTY of other kosher substitutes that have paved the way for Hostess to make the simple step. We have Hydrox cookies and kosher bacon, but no Twinkies...or so I thought.

One fine shopping day not long ago, I noticed something unusual as I carried out my Twinkie-check ritual. Drake's Cakes, a kosher kid's chemical cake heaven, had a Twinkie clone on the rack. My heart skipped a beat, a tear came to my eye. I thought I heard the Star Spangled Banner playing off in the distance. I could finally complete the immigrant experience embarked upon by my great-grandfather so many years ago when he decided that he and his children after him were to be Americans. True Americans. The "Twinkie" would be the final piece in that puzzle of the American experience that would fit somewhere in between baseball and the Beach Boys.

I was jubilant. I was about to truly experience American culinary culture--even if it was an imitation. With baited breath I grabbed the plastic two-pack of "Zoinks!" The name sounded like something Shaggie would say to Scooby-Doo. Suddenly fond memories of Hanna-Barbera cartoons merged with a long repressed desire to come up with a "creamy filling theory" better than "It's just born there!"

I reached into my pocket and pulled out two quarters. Two bicentennial quarters with the proud-looking drummer on the back. This was a truly charmed day. I pulled the plastic open with a quick, sharp snap. I then slowly separated the sticky Zoink! from the white cardboard square, leaving most of the bottom of the cake sticking on the cardboard--to be licked off later. So far, they were just like real Twinkies.

I brought the Zoink! to my mouth and slowly, with great joy, bit thought the golden outside to the creamy inside.

IT WAS REPULSIVE. But that didn't matter. So was Nixon, and he was an American president.

Granted, years from now when archaeologists dig up my bones, they'll find these two blobs of unidentifiable substances clinging to the back of my rib cage or sitting on my pelvis or somewhere else. However, I no longer have to feel like a Twinkieless stranger in my own land. I have had Zoinks! and nothing will stand in my way.

Jonathan A. Bresman '95 had a low cholesterol diet way before it was an American fad.

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