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Twinkie Dies in the Wreck of Innocence

The environmental movement brought our age of industrialization innocence to an end and marked the beginning of the end for products like the Twinkie.

Remember how the Twinkie was used in the 2008 Pixar classic Wall-E? In a future Earth transformed into a garbage dump by human excess and abandoned by humans, the adorable robot totters around utterly alone except for one other: a pet cockroach. A routine, massive duststorm sweeps in over the ruined city, forcing the pair to seek shelter. Once inside, Wall-E breaks open a Twinkie package to serve as a playground for the little guy, who dives into the artificially colored, corn syrup-sweetened, vegetable and/or animal fat shortening center with expectant glee.

Not your great-granddad's Twinkie. But they do stay fresh forever, don't they?

My guess is that the Hostess executive team's reluctance to sacrifice their profits on behalf of their employees has a lot to do with this cultural transformation. They see the writing on the wall and they don't think they can sustain Hostess as we know it into the future we are building for our children.

What the employees want doesn't really matter now because no bargain can save the company with its current management. It will have to change with the times.

If the Twinkie survives, it likely will have to become something else. To be reinvented to fit again into our vision of ourselves.

Maybe we will eventually see a return of trust, a born-again faith in the products as they are handed to us. Maybe, but I doubt it. Innocence doesn't return easily.

-- Written by Carlton Wilkinson in Asbury Park, N.J.

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