Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Human arrogance will have us believe that our creations will last forever.
According to the Bangor Daily News, one food seems to stand the test of time.
It was in 1976 when then-chemistry teacher Roger Bennatti took a freshly unwrapped Twinkie and, in a spontaneous moment of science education, placed it on top of a chalkboard in his classroom so he and his students could see how long it would take to decompose.
That question, however, remains unanswered to this day, with said Twinkie having outlasted both Bennatti’s teaching career and Interstate Bakeries Corp., the original company that churned out the cream-filled snack cakes from 1930 until it filed for bankruptcy in 2012. This is despite the fact that, according to NPR, the official shelf life of Twinkies (as stated by the company that now makes them) is only a few weeks.
Today, the same Twinkie unwrapped by Bennatti 40 years ago sits in a glass case on a shelf in the office of Libby Rosemeier, George Stevens Academy’s dean of students, looking a tad more ashen in color than it used to but nonetheless in one recognizable piece, except for a few crumbs that have fallen to the side.
Rosemeier said the possibility of tasting the ancient snack often is joked about, but so far no one has dared — either because at this point it is a famous pop-culture artifact or because they are scared of what it might do to them.
“Kids have said ‘Can I take a bite?’” Rosemeier said. “The most remarkable thing to me is that this is a piece food that is 40 years old and the shape is basically unchanged. Preservatives work, I guess, to some extent. I think it is dusty more than anything.”
Rosemeier, a George Stevens Academy graduate herself, was a student in Bennatti’s class in 1976, when the unscientific experiment began, she recalled.
“We were studying the chemistry of food. We went next door to the [ Merrill & Hinckley] store, bought Twinkies and we gave them to Mr. Bennatti and [asked him], ‘How many chemicals do you think are in something like this?’” Rosemeier said. “He said, ‘Let’s find out and see how long it lasts.’ He opened the Twinkie package, ate one, and put the other one on top of the [chalkboard].”
It stayed in his classroom for the next 28 years.
When he retired in 2004, Bennatti left the Twinkie in the care of Rosemeier, who became dean of students that same year. Rosemeier had her father make a glass case for the snack and, for the most part, it has been in her office ever since.
Any thoughts on what those preservatives do to your innards?