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RIP Twinkie, 1930 – 2012

Today we say goodbye to the Twinkie: an object as important to the American childhood experience as popsicles, jumping through the spray of a lawn sprinkler (or open fire hydrant), scraped knees, bicycle training wheels, and believing that everything in life—from bumble bees to moon craters—was there just for you.

Sadly, that innocence is lost over time (more quickly for some than others) until ultimately we’re adults, blundering through the real world as heroes to the children we used to be. As adults we know everything is temporary. Everything dies. And today, adults of all ages mourn the loss of the Twinkie.

This is horrible, horrible news for the public. The Twinkie–famously known as the one packaged food that would never spoil if left unopened–will one day drop from our lexicon, destined to be known by no one on earth save for a few scholars who specialize in this bizarre period known as the present. Until then, however, it is important for us—the living—to acknowledge the Twinkie and its innumerable contributions to our society and our memories.

Invented in 1930 by baker James Alexander Dewar, the Twinkie originally had a banana cream-filled interior, until World War II when bananas were rationed and the maker, the Continental Baking Company, was forced to switch to vanilla cream. From its early years the Twinkie was already making great sacrifices for America, and it eventually wove its way deep into the fabric of our culture. Millions of children throughout the ensuing decades would be rewarded with Twinkies for good behavior.

If society does break down one day, with everything decent we’ve created violently burning into a pile of smoldering ashes and leaving us with a wrecked landscape inhabited by flesh-eating zombies, we can rest assured the people responsible came from a Twinkie-free generation. So we’re safe. But from now on, as Hostess closes its doors, the future is uncertain.

We, of course, are no longer kids. But the kids of tomorrow will no longer have Twinkies, which means they won’t be the kids we were. That is the loss we are all feeling. That is the reason we adults mourn Twinkies. That is why this is such a big deal.

From now on everything will be different. Because we know that if the world can exist without Twinkies, then the world can exist without us.

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