- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Hudson Street Press; 1 edition (March 1, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594630186
- ISBN-13: 978-1594630187
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 91 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,209,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated Into What America Eats Hardcover – March 1, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
In this delightful romp through the food processing industry, Ettlinger, who writes on consumer products (The Complete Illustrated Guide to Everything Sold in Hardware Stores), says, "Believers of urban legends take note.... Twinkies are not just made of chemicals," nor will their ingredients allow them to last, "even exposed on a roof, for 25 years." But what exactly their ingredients are, and how they come from places like Minnesota and Madagascar to be made into what Ettlinger calls "the uber-iconic food product, the archetype of all processed foods," is the subject of his book. Each chapter looks at individual ingredients, in the same order as on a Twinkie package, so Ettlinger finds himself traveling to eastern Pennsylvania farms to study wheat, as well as to high-security plants that manufacture highly toxic chlorine used in minute amounts to make the bleached flour that is "the only kind that works in sugar-heavy" Twinkies or birthday and wedding cakes. His exploration of the manufacturing processes of cellulose gum ("perfect for lending viscosity to the filling in snack cakes—or rocket fuel"), for example, cleverly reveals how Twinkie ingredients "are produced by or dependent on nearly every basic industry we know." (Mar. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Steve Ettlinger, author of six books, has long been fascinated with everyday consumer products, from hardware to beer.
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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.