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Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, M ined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated into What America Eats Paperback – February 26, 2008
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You will never read a label the same way again.
[A] delightful romp through the food processing industry.
Everything you ever wanted to know about the ingredients in a Twinkie but were afraid to ask. . . . A fascinating global tale.
Andy Smith, editor in chief, "Oxford Companion to Food and Drink in America"
aYou will never read a label the same way again.a
a[A] delightful romp through the food processing industry.a
aEverything you ever wanted to know about the ingredients in a Twinkie but were afraid to ask. . . . A fascinating global tale.a
aAndy Smith, editor in chief, "Oxford Companion to Food and Drink in America"
?You will never read a label the same way again.?
?[A] delightful romp through the food processing industry.?
?Everything you ever wanted to know about the ingredients in a Twinkie but were afraid to ask. . . . A fascinating global tale.?
?Andy Smith, editor in chief, "Oxford Companion to Food and Drink in America"
About the Author
Since 1988 Steve Ettlinger has written eight books and has produced, edited, or agented over 40. Steve specializes in explaining very common but complicated subjects in an entertaining way. His most popular book is about artificial food ingredients (Twinkie, Deconstructed); he gives presentations around the country about his work on this book. His first book, The Complete Illustrated Guide to Everything Sold in Hardware Stores, has remained in print for over 26 years and is now an eBook. Steve has appeared on many morning network TV shows in the course of publishing his books.For more information, or to see past TV interviews, please visit Steve's website, steveettlinger.com
Top customer reviews
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"Last Sale Date: Dec 17" - From the same Twinkies package, purchased November 24
"Examining the labels found on supermarket shelves, it becomes obvious that Twinkies are merely an archetype of almost all modern processed foods; so many others share their ingredients and attempts at immortality on the shelf ..." - author Steve Ettlinger
As author Steve Ettlinger ruefully admits, when his 6-year old daughter asked, "Where does pol-y-sor-bate six-tee come from, Daddy?", Ol' Dad had to confess fallibility; he didn't know. Thus, his personal mission to find out the origin of this ingredient on the ice cream wrapper of the moment resulting in this book, TWINKIE, DECONSTRUCTED.
For any junk-food lover or despiser with at least a minimal interest in nutrition and a major curiosity about the world we live in, TWINKIE DECONSTRUCTED is a must read. Within, Ettlinger describes the source and processing steps for each ingredient that goes into Twinkies without becoming overly technical, or at least not so much that the eyes of anyone who failed high-school chemistry will glaze over. An example of the narrative's tone on ingredient evolution might be that on the creation of FD&C Yellow 5 and Red 40:
"Shanghai Dyestuffs Research Institute Co., Ltd., the largest synthetic food color institute in China ... (reacts aniline) with a metal sulfate to create sulfanilic acid ... Meanwhile, Sinopec (china's largest oil refinery) refines naphtha and ethylene out of more crude oil and combines them to make naphthalene ... Shanghai Dyestuffs reacts this with another acid and plain old table salt to make something called Schaeffer's Salt, the key ingredient in both red and yellow ... Two acids are essential ingredients, nitric acid to make red, and tartaric acid for yellow."
If the above passage seems technically daunting, never fear; such never becomes overpowering. Indeed, much of TWINKIE DECONSTRUCTED are asides into less technical avenues of arcane but interesting facts. Did you know that there are six kinds of wheat? Or that the one pound of the coloring cochineal, found in Campari and Dannon's boysenberry yogurt, is derived from the dried bodies of 70,000 female cochineal insects harvested off the paddles of prickly pear cacti? Or that Osama bin Laden was once part owner of a Sudanese acacia gum firm before he was tossed out of the country in 1996? This is cool stuff.
Reinforcing the fact that he's only using Twinkies to illustrate a point, Ettlinger regularly mentions the other products, foodstuffs or otherwise, which contain the ingredient under discussion in the text; for one who perhaps doesn't read ingredient labels, it's eye-opening. At times, the knowledge gained may give the worrywarts one more cause for angst:
"Let's hope the cows of Belarus graze upwind of Chernobyl, because Belarus, along with Russia and Poland, is where a lot of the cheaper milk we use to make lower grades of sodium and calcium caseinate comes from." (Do your Twinkies glow in the dark?)
I enjoyed TWINKIE, DECONSTRUCTED immensely because it's chock full of that sort of esoteric knowledge that gives me a break from daily concerns like the price of gas, Al Gore's pre-occupation with global warming and whether or not Britney is nuts and an unfit Mom. Now, if my nutrition fanatic wife would only give me back my package of Twinkies.
If you wish for a complete primer on modern foods, however, do not read this book in isolation. Pair it with some of Michael Pollan's, Nina Planck's, and/or Marion Nestle's latest books, along with the China Study, or otherwise explore our modern system in greater depth. Ettlinger is an excellent investigator, and presents his ideas well, but seems to subscribe (as far as this book is concerned) to limited dietary recommendations and environmental perspectives.
Though vital to consider, these dietary and environmental omissions are not all together relevant to his text, and appear, appropriately, as side-notes. In revealing how fantastically industrio-chemical our food system has become, which is exactly what it sets out to do, this book positively soars. I was impressed.
I have always admired the Twinkie as an industrial product.
As food, not so much.
This tells its story well
It is an awesome creation, a piece of craftsmanship and history.
What is bad, what is good, how much of each ingredient, etc.
But the overall message to monitor what you eat and what is on packaged and processed food labels is well taken.