Do Twinkies Really Never Expire?

Believe it or not, there are actually many foods that never expire. One famous dessert that's consistently rumored to never expire is Twinkies. How did Twinkies earn a reputation for being impervious to the passing of time, surviving well past its expiration date? Maybe it's due to the slurry of chemicals that make up a Twinkie, says ABC News. Feeding this rumor is the story that a Maine science teacher once maintained the same Twinkie in his classroom for nearly 40 years, claiming that it hadn't yet crumbled, via NPR

Clearly, society has been conditioned to perceive the Twinkie as a food that isn't really food at all. With nearly 40 ingredients that make up a Twinkie, per ABC News, it's easy to understand the urban legend surrounding the sweet treat's neverending shelf life. But what exactly goes inside a Twinkie and how long does it really last on the shelf?

Twinkies contain a myriad of natural ingredients

Twinkies, contrary to belief, were not designed to last forever. Hostess President and CEO, William D. Toler, has gone on record telling Food Business News, "Our shelf life is 65 days from bake, and we guarantee 45 days to our customer." The quality of your baked confection will begin to decrease after a month and a half. But perhaps you require more than just the word of a company executive.

It might be prudent, instead, to look at what's actually in a Twinkie. According to How It's All Made, these Hostess snacks contain "wheat flour, sugar, corn syrup, niacin, water, high fructose corn syrup, eggs, and shortening," all of which are real ingredients. According to Hostess, there are a huge number of difficult-to-pronounce ingredients, artificial flavoring, and dyes, too. Though nothing can make flour, corn, eggs, and shortening last forever, perhaps evidence of rotting Twinkies might prove the point. 

Twinkies do mold in time

A science enthusiast and an old box of Twinkies prompted NPR to discuss the snack's longevity. Apparently, when Colin Purrington discovered a box of eight-year-old Twinkies in his basement, he started a somewhat horrifying Twitter thread describing what he encountered. 

Among his observations, he discovered the creamy center had turned to an off-putting shade of brown, one specimen sported a mysterious blemish, and one had "shriveled into a small log, sucking in the plastic like it was vacuum-packed." And the Twinkie he took a bite of was "chewy, unsweet, and smelled like rotting ginkgo fruit." 

NPR reveals that when two scientists from West Virginia University heard about this experiment, they knew they wanted to be involved. They quickly discovered that both the spotted and the shriveled Twinkie had become home to fungi. The spotted Twinkie still housed a colony of common mold spores, while the desiccated Twinkie's mold had died, per NPR. 

Dead or alive, the presence of mold clearly shows that the myths about Twinkies are wrong. Twinkies eventually do spoil over time. They have passed the realm of food and become science projects. And if you still have a hankering, you can make some homemade Twinkies of your own without all of the added chemicals.