One day at recess in the school yard at St. Mary and Joseph Catholic School, I fell down and seriously skinned my knee. Everyone laughed and ran off, except for Mary Lister.

Mary came over and pulled her luncheon dessert from a brown paper bag and handed me my first ever Twinkie. This is a true story. I fell in love that day, with Mary and with Twinkies. Thank you, Mary.

Twinkies, in those days, were filled with banana cream. They were criminally delicious and probably still are. Children today, and nutritionally challenged adults who think they love Twinkies, have no idea what they missed with the original banana cream filling. OMG.

Today we’re informed that the Twinkie mother ship, Hostess, is sliding into bankruptcy. They say they will regroup and come bouncing back. This is, I’m sure, for many, good news.

Of course, no serious-minded healthful eater such as yours truly would put a Twinkie in the shopping basket. I’m just saying.

Twinkies, it seems, were invented in Schiller Park, Ill., in 1930 by James Alexander Dewar, a baker for the Continental Baking Company. He took the name from a billboard in my hometown of St. Louis for “Twinkle Toe Shoes.”


I remember those shoes. They were sold in Koelen’s Shoe Store, along with Buster Browns. Upon tasting the first Twinkie, it is reported that Mr. Dewar quoted the Bhagavad Gita and said, “Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Of course it was J. Robert Oppenheimer who said that upon viewing the first atomic bomb. I just think mine is funnier, and most nutritionists would agree. Don’t deny it. You and I grew up eating the worst junk food on the planet. Twinkies and its sister treat, Hostess Cup Cakes, those delicious chocolate cakes with the squiggly white lines on top, were part of that menu.

Like most Depression babies, I was fed a good diet of veggies and fruits at home. But in the streets, where we all lived out our true lives, chili dogs, french fries with ketchup, Pepsi-Cola and the ubiquitous Twinkie, were the true survival foods.

An interesting note: Twinkies have played an important role in the romantic chapters of my life. Mary Lister, who gave me my first Twinkie, went on to hold my heart in her Twinkie-smeared hands up to the sixth grade. Mary also gave me my first Valentine. I still have it in an aging scrapbook.

There’s more. I first met and fell in love with my high school sweetheart, Rosemary De Branco, she of the one-thousand-and-one angora sweaters and simple strand of pearls, in Cleveland High School’s cafeteria. Rosemary, who was the prototype for all future white fudge, glitter sprinkled blond bombshells, reached across the table and handed me her one Twinkie.

Rosemary and I were also famous for inventing the “Twinkie Kiss,” which involved sharing a Twinkie in the moonlight. You had to be there.


I’m sure that upon reading this, most of you, even the young, will have your own wonderful Twinkie stories. Of course we all know that not one of us would ever think of eating a Twinkie this late in our years. One only has to read the ingredients on the label to go into convulsions.

The Twinkie, despite those weird, and some suspect, extraterrestrial fillings, has a romantic primal fire about it. Some say that the Twinkie ranks right up there with our first kiss, first beer and first spiritual experience. Some say that it rivals the cigarette.

Imagine having the first Twinkie of the day over a hot cup of coffee at a cafe in Paris, or after making love. Think about it. I’m just saying.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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