Twinkie Pyrotechnics

You have to heat a Twinkie in the microwave for 45 seconds, on average, before it will explode.

Or so I read in the newspaper this morning. No source was cited for this intriguing and slightly disturbing little bit of information, but since it was in the paper, of course it must be true.

Still, an inquiring mind fueled by a wholesome breakfast and a second cup of coffee would like to know more. Such as:

How many trials did it take before researchers came up with the 45-second average? Three? Ten? One hundred? This is important; the more repetitions, the greater the scientific validity.

Was the microwave set on full power? And did the researchers experiment with microwaves of different wattages? After all, as anyone who has ever burned a bag of microwave popcorn knows first-hand, cooking times in different ovens may vary.

Who came up with the idea of exploding Twinkies in the first place? I can imagine two likely possibilities. One involves a college-dorm microwave and a certain amount of beer. The second involves a couple of bored 12-year-olds left unattended in a kitchen.

After the experiment was complete and the results duly logged, who cleaned up the mess in the microwave?

Is exploding a Twinkie properly categorized as scientific research at all? Or should it be considered performance art?

And perhaps most important, who funded this research? A weapons lab? A competing snack food company? A dental school? Or is there some sort of center for the discovery of alternative uses for junk food? (Someone somewhere, after all, had to come up with the idea of deep-frying a Twinkie.)

Perhaps it was the makers of Twinkies themselves. As a marketing strategy, it’s not a bad idea. Admit it: reading this has given at least half of you the impulse to go buy a package of Twinkies and do your own experiment.

Maybe it was NASA. Researchers there certainly have an interest in food that can remain edible throughout long space voyages. Suppose the Cassini space probe had left Earth in 1997 with a couple of Twinkies tucked in beside its scientific instruments. It’s possible the preservative-enhanced treats would have still been in their original condition when, in September 2017, Cassini plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere and disintegrated.

Now that would be a spectacular way to blow up a Twinkie.

Categories: Food and Drink | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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