When you think of weightlessness, think Twinkie
On the Mark — By Craig Marks
It’s not easy being a Twinkie. In these health-conscious times, we want snack foods we can at least pretend are nutritious, like fruit pies, which have a name that’s 50 percent healthy.
Hostess Brands Inc., the company that has been selling the snack cakes since the 1930s, has filed for bankruptcy, the second time in eight years. Hostess’ Downtown Akron bakery and outlet store have been shut down. According to a Wall Street Journal article, 2011 Twinkie sales were down 2 percent from the previous year.
Growing up, I was more of a Dolly Madison Zinger man than a Twinkie man, if only because Zingers were endorsed by Charlie Brown. (Now, both brands are owned by Hostess.) But I’d hate to see the Twinkie added to history’s Discontinued Item cart. It needs some good PR, which could be accomplished with an adventure on the HI-SEAS.
HI-SEAS is short for “Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation,” and it’s a NASA-funded study to be conducted by the University of Hawaii, working with Cornell University. In 2013, six participants will be stuck in an enclosed area for four months in what they’re calling an “analog habitat study.” (We call it “a typical Ohio winter.”)
The experiment’s purpose is to look at the food astronauts would eat on a mission to Mars. A news release on the University of Hawaii’s website explains further, in a sentence possibly longer than the entire mission:
“The study will investigate the impact of food preparation, food monotony, nasal congestion and smelling acuity on food and nutrient intake in isolated, confined microsocieties similar to astronaut crews on long term planetary exploration missions.”
The participants will live and eat in the habitat for four months. When venturing outside the habitat, they’ll put on spacesuits, which will make them a bit conspicuous at luaus. If the reality show “Big Brother” were made in conjunction with the Syfy Channel and the Food Network, I’m guessing it would be a lot like this.
When the scientists begin deciding on the menus, I hope they make room for Hostess’ airdock-shaped snack. What would be more suited for an extended space flight than the Twinkie? As urban legends and the movie “Wall-E” taught us, it’s indestructible and has an expiration date that spans several lifetimes.
Of course Twinkies should not be the primary food of the pseudo astronauts, not unless we want the participants bouncing off the habitat walls by Day 14. Twinkies could be given to the subjects as special treats for jobs well done, or, possibly, to plug up dangerous leaks. Either way, being involved in the project would get Twinkies’ name out there.
But, study or no study, I’m afraid we’re not sending astronauts to the Red Planet anytime soon. We don’t have the money to work on Interstate 76, let alone finance a manned rocket ship to Mars. Unless there’s a Milky Way Turnpike we can sell — or President Newt Gingrich takes his moonbase project to the next level — a manned Mars mission is not in the picture.
But we can dream, and what better to dream on than a yellow cream-filled pillow? Let Twinkies set sail on the HI-SEAS. We’re tired of projects that are pie in the sky. We should have snack cakes in the sky, too.
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