Twinkie Deconstructed :- Excerpts....
"Papetti’s breaks 7 million eggs a day at its New Jersey plant, located in an industrial park near Newark Airport. The mere idea of breaking, let alone handling, that many eggs, even over a lifetime, is hard for a mere mortal to conceive. But here at Papetti’s, big tractor-trailers arrive hourly and tank trucks depart almost as often, each loaded with 6,000 gallons of fresh, whole, liquid eggs. [pg 105]
On one machine, the egg is immediately seized on each oval end by two small suction cups. The supporting cup falls away, and the fun begins. Picture one egg among many suspended on a whizzing carousel, and follow the process as you walk around the wheel: a knife shoots up to give the egg a surgical whack, slicing cleanly through the shell. It then falls back into position, ready for the next hit a second later. Suction cups pull the shell halves back and up at a slight angle, perfectly mimicking the gesture countless cooks make in their kitchen as they crack eggs one by one. The yolk and white drop down into a set of corresponding cups. As the yolk plops down into a small, appropriately sized upper cup, the white falls down around it into a funnel cup, just underneath. Gentle blasts of air coax the last of the egg out of its shell, and the yolk cups are bounced a bit to shake the white completely out -- again, much like you do at home. [pg 111]
Gums may come from trees (locust bean, tree seeds from the sap in the Sahel region of Africa), seaweed (agar, carrageenan, aka Irish moss, and alginates, mostly from the Philippines), pealike plant seeds (guar gum, from India, Pakistan, and the southwestern United States), and bacterial fermentation (xanthan gum, fermented in good old Midwestern corn syrup). Travel to see gum and you’ll see the world. Even Osama bin Laden once owned part of an acacia gum firm in Sudan, but was forced to sell out when Sudan booted him in 1996. [pg 123]
Dairy-based food coating or glaze (like that used on candy) is another promising possible future use – as an alternative to the currently popular shellac (yes, shellac) product. [pg 128]
For starters, prehistoric people were known to leach water through the ashes of burned plant stalks to botain their primitive detergent for clothes washing, and the ancient Egyptians made glass ornaments with soda ash recovered from dried desert lakes. [pg 163]
Several of the [professional flavorists] I spoke with willingly tasted Twinkies, often for the first time since they were kids, and though they usually scoffed at their own diminished desire for such sweet things, they were impressed with Twinkies’ successful blend of flavors. [pg 200]
Incidentally, according to Hostess, vanilla wasn’t even the principal flavor of the original 1930 Twinkies filling – for the first ten years, banana was. But World War II created such an extreme shortage of bananas that the song “Yes, We Have No Bananas” soared to the top of the charts, and Hostess switched to the more widely available vanilla flavoring. [pg 201]
According to legend, Benjamin Franklin is responsible for the success of plaster of Paris as a soil amendment in the United States (it promotes aeration in clay soils). He was our first ambassador to France, and so admired its use while he was there that he brought some back here in 1785. An energetic promoter, he worked it into the soil on a prominent hillside in the form of letters reading, THIS HAS BEEN PLASTERED. When the clover growing over the enriched soil grew dramatically denser than the analphabetic clover around it, he had successfully introduced gypsum as “land plaster” to American farmers. (The strange thing is that ancient Greeks gardened with it, too, so it is not clear why Franklin’s coaxing seemed new to the Americans.) Imported from Paris at first, gypsum’s popularity was assured when deposits were found in abundance around the United States. [pg 223]
Sometimes we expect strong color where natural color is actually weak, which may explain why Ocean Spray includes Red No. 40 in its Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice. At Sensient, color scientists repeatedly state that we taste with our eyes before we taste with our mouths. In Australia, an ice cream company found that it sold three times as much passion fruit ice cream tinted with the pink of the fruit than a plain white version of the exact same ice cream (taste was not affected). [pg 248]
The best thing about natural colors is that they are presumed safe, seeing as they occur naturally in food and plants. On the other hand, natural colors are not necessarily as intense or as easy to incorporate into a recipe, as they are three to five times more expensive than petroleum-derived colors (all that food handling costs something), and, more concerning, they might add some unintended flavor to the recipe. Regardless of the hue, artificial colors do not add flavor – a big advantage. ¶ Still, colors derived from natural sources are often made at the same plants as purely chemical ones, and because they have been processed (or synthesized, in the case of beta-carotene), they are simply no longer considered natural. A label describing these colors can say, “color added,” “artificial color added,” or actually name the color, but it can’t say “natural color.” The FDA still classifies them as artificial unless they are coloring the very food they come from, e.g. strawberry juice added to strawberry ice cream. [pg 254]"........
Food for thought :
"MMMM, Tasty Chemicals
A new book ‘deconstructs’ a Twinkie and analyses all 39 ingredients. Industrial-strength junk food, anyone?
By Anne Underwood
As Steve Ettlinger dropped down a Wyoming mine shaft, plummeting 1,600 feet in an open-mesh cage, he wondered how many other food writers had ever donned hard hats and emergency breathing equipment in pursuit of a story. But it was too late to turn back. He'd promised his editor a book tracing the ingredients in a Hostess Twinkie to their origins--and one of them was down this shaft. At the bottom, he and his hosts climbed into an open Jeep and hurtled for 30 terrifying minutes through pitch-black tunnels. Their destination: the site where a mineral called trona--the raw ingredient of baking soda--was being clawed out of a rock face by giant machines. "To say that this does not suggest Twinkies or any other food product would be an understatement," observes Ettlinger. "There you are at an open rock face, wondering why they do all this for the sake of a little snack cake."
If you've ever puzzled over why packaged foods contain "polysorbate 60" or "mono and diglycerides," Ettlinger's new book, "Twinkie, Deconstructed," is a treat you'll want to try. Chapter by chapter, Ettlinger--the author of previous food books like "Beer for Dummies"--decodes all 39 ingredients in the little creme-filled cakes.
He explains their uses and the processes by which raw materials are "crushed, baked, fermented, refined and/or reacted into a totally unrecognizable goo or powder with a strange name," which then appears on a label full of other incomprehensible and barely pronounceable ingredients. Unraveling it all was a major undertaking--and Ettlinger received no help from Hostess and its parent company, Interstate Brands Corp., despite appealing directly to the Vice President of Cake.
At the heart of the book is the fundamental question: why is it you can bake a cake at home with as few as six ingredients, but Twinkies require 39? And why do many of them seem to bear so little resemblance to actual food? The answer: To stay fresh on a grocery-store shelf, Twinkies can't contain anything that might spoil, like milk, cream or butter. Once you remove such real ingredients, something has to take their place--and cellulose gum, lecithin and sodium stearoyl lactylate are a good start. Add the fact that industrial quantities of batter have to pump easily through automated tubes into cake molds, and you begin to get the idea.
Even so, it can be unsettling to learn just how closely the basic ingredients in processed foods resemble industrial materials. Corn dextrin, a common thickener, is also the glue on postage stamps and envelopes. Ferrous sulfate, the iron supplement in enriched flour and vitamin pills, is used as a disinfectant and weedkiller. Is this cause for concern? Ettlinger says no, though you wouldn't want a diet that consists solely of Twinkies. Ultimately, all food, natural and otherwise, is composed of chemical compounds--and normal ingredients like salt have industrial applications, too. Still, it gives you pause when he describes calcium sulfate, a dough conditioner, as "food-grade plaster of Paris."
In the end, you may learn more than you really wanted to about the Twinkie-Industrial Complex, as Ettlinger calls it. But you will never read a label the same way again. "