World's Oldest Twinkie Has Barely Aged in 36 Years

© Liffery Thorpe

As the death knell rings for Hostess Brands Inc, the last batches of those caloric confections are flying off store shelves. And while some of these junk-food aficionados may be tempted to gorge upon their sudden stockpile of sugary snacks, perhaps justifying the gluttony to their concerned loved ones under the pretense of beating an expiration date, the truth is even more disturbing than the sound of someone trying speak through a mouthful of artificial sweetener: Twinkies are seemingly immortal.

Way back in 1976, George Stevens Academy science professor Roger Bennatti was leading a class discussion about the prevalence of chemical preservatives in processed foods when one of his students offered forth a Twinkie leftover from lunch to be used as an example. Little could Bennatti have realized then, but this lesson would mark the beginnings of an informal experiment that would outlast his career.

"How long do you figure this will last?" implored the professor, placing the Twinkie on top of an intercom box in his class. Nearly four decades later, the answer is still unresolved.

In 2005, Bennatti retired from teaching, undoubtably bearing the mark of age after a long and fruitful tenure. But surprisingly, maybe even mockingly so, that Twinkie, the world's oldest, looked just about as good as new. So, before he left, Bennatti placed the fresh-faced Twinkie in a glass box and presented it to the Dean of George Stevens Academy, Libby Rosemeier, who had been a student in his class when the Twinkie was first introduced.

Now, 36 years later, the old Twinkie still looks as though it's hardly aged -- though you'd be hard pressed to find anyone brave enough to eat it. Then again, the desperation of the Twinkiepocalypse hasn't quite set in yet.

Just to note, Twinkies have an official post-assembly shelf life of 25 days. So don't go willing them to your great-grandkids; try these homemade alternatives instead.

Tags: Chemicals | Food Safety