Twinkie the Kid

I fired off a pretty innocuous tweet this morning on the news that Twinkie-maker Hostess had filed for Bankruptcy:

“Turns out the shelf life of a Twinkie might be longer than the company that makes them.”

I didn’t think I’d made that clever of an observation – after all the half-life of Twinkies has been a comedic staple for at least the last few decades – but favstar says otherwise:


And while I haven’t actually eaten a Twinkie in a while, as a kid I used to love them. I remember Twinke the Kid ads in all the comic books I used to get from my great-grandmother and my grandmother used to always have Hostess products on hand.

Maybe it’s a Michigan thing, but my grandmother used to keep Hostess products in the freezer. You really haven’t lived until you’ve had a frozen Twinkie, Suzy Q, Hoho or Ding Dong.

How I ever asked for one of those innuendo-laden item (let alone typing them now) is beyond my comprehension, but a frozen Suzy Q is messy, delicious fun. I’ll stand by that.

So even though the news is rather grim, I’m going to be stockpiling some Hostess snack cakes (and maybe some of those Fruit Pies that Marvel superheroes used to eat too) and freezing them for later enjoyment.

I know I don’t have to; they just taste better that way.


Newtons Aren’t Fruit and Cake (anymore)

While packing Raelyn’s lunch last night (she’s at YMCA day camp most of the Summer) I noticed a not-so-subtle branding change on the Fig Newtons packaging. Below is an artistic photo of the new wording, which reads: “Fruity Chewy Cookies”

Fig Newtons by turnthecity
Fig Newtons by turnthecity

Above: Fig Newtons by turnthecity

If you did any of your TV viewing during the 90’s, you’ll likely remember that Fig Newtons were being hocked thusly:

“A cookie is just a cookie, but a Newton is fruit and cake.”

Here’s an ad to refresh your memory. 4:48 mark:

Now I’m no nutritional anthropologist (thank you, Deb Duchon, Alton Brown and Good Eats) but I don’t think fig jam counts as fruit, nor that a baked crust counts as cake. More like pie.

Other, more learned scholars have made the point that Newtons are likely “squares” or “bars”, but I’ll leave that to you, gentle reader, to decide.

Whether or not the Newton is, in fact, “fruit and cake” or some kind of cookie or something else entirely shouldn’t actually matter. What matters is how quickly Nabisco has reversed course in their marketing and promotion.

Of course, I seem to be a couple of years late to both the new positioning AND mockery of the same. Still, I feel it’s my duty to point out the idiocy of changing course so dramatically.

But what do I know, right? Fig Newtons are still the only cookie/fruit-cake combo/bar/square on the market that either called Newton OR made of Fig. Their uniqueness of form, function and name seems to trump whatever marketing their laboring under currently.

I can’t help but draw the comparison to another food-stuff marketing catchphrase of the same era: Polaner All Fruit.

For those of you who don’t recall, much was made of the fact that as, you shouldn’t call Polaner All Fruit “Jelly” since it was better than all of that. It was, after all, “spreadable fruit” and not at all like lowly, common jelly.

Here’s the money shot of the spot:

So imagine if Polaner all of sudden relaunched calling themselves “Jelly” despite keeping the name All Fruit; wouldn’t make much sense, would it?

Granted, Newton is a nebulous descriptor not at all as recognizable or finite as “jelly” “fruit” or, more directly, “cookie” or “cake”‘. Still, the whole thing seems like a bait and switch to my younger, sweet-toothed mind.

A cookie, for all its benefits and joys, is just a cookie. A Newton – unique in all the snacking world – is fruit and cake.

Or at least it used to be.

Bonus linkage: Fruit and Cake (Fig Newton Song)

And, in the end, the Fig Newton you take, will always be fruit and cake (with apologies to The Beatles).

Eating “Healthy”

My family is currently obsessed with their health, more specifically eating “healthy”. The trend dates back at least to January 2006 when I decided – mostly as a New Year’s Resolution – that I was going to lose weight, eat better, exercise more and drop my sympathy pregnancy weight/body.

As I’ve documented here on many occasions previously, I’ve been pretty successful due in large part to eating a high fiber breakfast (usually oatmeal, a flax-fortified cereal or just plain, old Wheaties), cutting down on snacking a junk (no soda or candy bars) and working out religiously (I’m averaging almost 5 out of 5 workdays). So most of it is no-brainer stuff. Don’t eat like you’re fasting, just eat less and eat pretty socially-accepted “good” foods. More salads and fruit for lunch (my favorite is soup and a yogurt), less obvious crap.

I’ve also dialed back the gargantuan amount of water I was drinking. At one point I was flooding myself with 2 liters or more every day and I spent a good portion of my day in the restroom. It wasn’t so much water ownership as much as it was leasing/renting.

Anyhow, success is contagious and, fresh off having our second child, Jenn decided she too needed to tone up a bit. Vacationing in Hawaii will do that to folks. Plus, watching me get thinner by 40 pounds. Am I piling it on too thick?

So Jenn is doing a “Fit Trip” that encompasses 12 weeks of eating right by virtue of a food diary, working out more by turning in a weekly chart and 3 hydrostatic weigh-ins to see how she’s progressing. I participated in the second, mid-point weigh-in a few weeks back and it only made me want to get weighed-in again. Fascinating stuff [see original post].

The real topic of today’s post, though, is the eating portion of staying healthy. There’s a great lecture/chat/Q&A on You Tube of UC Berkeley Journalism Professor Michael Pollan speaking at Google about his new book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto:

[Via BoingBoing]

There are too many gems to succinctly summarize but here’s my shot (actually Pollan’s own shorter version): “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much”

He tackles topics ranging from “nutritionism” to government farm subsidies to “Orthorexia“. A truly delightful speaker who obviously spent some serious time obsessively researching the topic of food and nutrition in America. I strongly recommend viewing.

Lastly I wanted to jump back into the personal. Since Raelyn is an impressionable, school-aged eater she’s just now starting to have real, lengthy, substantive, dinner-time conversations with us about her likes, dislikes and questions regarding food and nutrition. We have certain lists of “good” and “bad” foods, but we don’t deprive her of anything. She gets more than enough treats and traditional, memory-inducing childhood sweets, but we’re also trying to instill in her a sense of well-rounded consumption based loosely on “all things in moderation”.

It really is neat to see the gears in her head spin. Just this evening we had a discussion of the concept of “tender” meat. She concluded our talk by declaring the roast chicken we had was “tender AND juicy”. Good girl.

Aside from showing folks that video, my impetus for posting was to gloat a little bit. Judging by the basic guiding principles Pollan laid out in the talk (and my own success on the scale, in the gym and, most importantly, in the mirror) I’m doing pretty well.

Just thought I’d share.