What Happened to Those Twinkies?

In 1997 President and Mrs. Clinton created the White House Millennium Council with the theme “Honor the Past—Imagine the Future.”  The Council asked former presidential and congressional medal winners and students from across the country to identify artifacts, ideas, and accomplishments which represent America at that time in history for inclusion in a National Millennium Time Capsule.  The sounds of Louis Armstrong, a photograph of U.S. troops liberating a concentration camp, children’s art, and a model of the Liberty Bell are some of the more than 1300 contributions made.  And a package of Twinkies!

The Time Capsule now resides at the National Archives and I had a chance to talk with some of the staff involved in processing the contents of the capsule for long term preservation.  “In perpetuity” is imbedded in the DNA of the National Archives, after all.  So…how did the Twinkies stand up to our rigorous standards?  While they do have a reportedly long shelflife—14 years in one source—they failed the perpetuity test.  The fact that Twinkies had been originally included was, of course, documented, but in the end they were eaten!

Photo courtesy of Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


I have a long history with Twinkies, culminating in winning the New Year’s Eve Dessert Contest while at the MIT Libraries with my Sarah’s Surprise recipe.  I can still remember the embarrassment of standing in the checkout line with the ingredients!

8 Twinkies

20 oz. can crushed pineapple

1 qt. vanilla ice cream

2 pkgs. orange Jello

1 cup boiling water

7 oz. bottle 7-Up less 1 Tbsp.

Cool  Whip

Halve the Twinkies lengthwise and use them to a line a 9×13 dish.  Layer pineapple and soft ice cream on top of the Twinkies.  Dissolve Jello in the boiling water and 7-Up.  Pour over the layers and refrigerate until  Jello sets.   Slice and serve with Cool Whip topping.

Note:  the interaction of the Jello and 7-Up is like a home chemistry experiment.  Be prepared for lots of bubbling and energy released.

2 thoughts on “What Happened to Those Twinkies?

  1. Oh rats, I wish I had seen this before Thanksgiving! That desert sounds both atrocious and delicious, and very timely.

  2. David,

    thanks for publishing this recipe!! I have been telling people about this since my days at MIT – and I think no one really believed me… I wonder if it’s really the same if you substitute another vanilla “cake product” for Twinkies?

    Gratefully, Kathy

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