T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. stands for Tests With Inorganic Noxious Kakes In Extreme Situations.

T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. is a series of experiments conducted during finals week, 1995, at Rice University. The tests were designed to determine the properties of that incredible food, the Twinkie.


Vital Statistics:

Full Name: Christopher Scott Gouge Todd William Stadler
Nicknames: Chris, Radar, Gouge Odd Todd, Odd Ox, Pigtail Boy*
Class Year: Graduated May, 1998 Graduated December, 1997
Major: Computer Science Electrical and Computer Engineering
Hometown: Austin, Texas Richardson, Texas
Hobbies: reading, firefighting*, and sleeping past noon* drumming in ska bands*, wasting time on my home page, fruitless pursuit of women
Turn-Ons: women with a sense of humor, gory car wrecks, and the pink Power Ranger. bleached/dyed hair, red cheeks, the pink Power Ranger, people who remember my name
Turn-Offs: shallow people, abused judicial systems, TV infomercials peg legs, use of word "leverage", the complete failure to understand sarcasm
Favorite Small Furry Woodland Creature: Todd Stadler your friendly neighborhood squirrel
scientists Figure 1:May 1995: The Twinkie scientists, giddy from finishing a long, hard day of experimenting, enjoy a tasty control subject snack in front of their laboratory/ lavatory mirror, on which is written some calculations from the maximum density test.
scientists Figure 2:May 1998: The Twinkie scientists share a tender reunion moment at a fancy party before heading off into the Real World to work for their respective parts of The Man. Note portentous image of revolutionary icon "El Che" in background.



Background Information

The Twinkies used for these tests were bought at the Fiesta Store on Main Street, Houston, TX. They were purchased April 29, 1995. A total of 20 Twinkies (2 boxes of 10) were purchased, all with expiration dates of May 10th, 1995. Both boxes were from lot 517/116, 0506.

Each test consisted of two Twinkies. One Twinkie acted as the control, and was not touched during the course of the experiment. The other Twinkie was subjected to various stimuli and its reactions recorded, photographed, and placed on this webpage.

After each test, the control Twinkie was consumed to ensure that it would not be inadvertantly used in in another experiment.

For the remainder of this document, a "standard" Twinkie shall be understood to mean "a "Golden Sponge Cake with Creamy Filling" created by the Hostess Company, baked by Continental Baking Co, and marketed under the brand name "Twinkie", produced in lot 517/117 0506 with an expiration date of May 10th, 1995, and containing enriched flour (niacin, iron (ferrous sulfate), thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin), water, sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated vegetable and/or animal shortening (contains one or more of: canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, beef fat), eggs, and dextrose, and also containing no more than 2% of modified food starch, whey, leavenings (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, monocalcium phosphate), salt, starch, yellow corn flour, corn syrup solids, mono and diglycerides, dextrin, calcium caseinate, sodium stearoyl lactylate, cellulose gum, polysorbate 60, wheat gluten, lecithin, flavors (artificial, natural), artifical colors (yellow 5, red 40), caramel color, preservatives (sorbic acid)."

twinkie project


Test Information:
Test Subject 1: Standard Twinkie
Test Subject 2: Lovett College Sophomore
Control Subject: Standard Twinkie
Test Location: 4th floor room, Lovett College, Rice University
Start Time: Tuesday, May 2, 1995 21:21 CST
Stop Time: Wednesday, May 3,1995 21:50 CST

Test Description:
This test was designed to test whether Twinkies are intelligent. We decided to do this test last, because we "killed" a lot of Twinkies during these experiments, and didn't want to know before the other tests were over if they were sentient.

This test was a slightly modified version of the Turing test, designed to check computers for artificial intellegence (AI). The theory is that if you ask questions by typing on a computer keyboard and cannot distinguish whether the responses come from a human on the other end, or a computer program, then the program is artificially intelligent.

Before Test:
Before the test, the Twinkie was relatively quiet, and the Lovett sophomore was confused by the whole thing. One typical statement was, "Wait, you're testing to see if a Twinkie is intelligent?"

Immediate Results:
turing Figure 1:The second (and by far more successful) human subject enjoying a quick laugh with his Twinkie counterpart (seated on the right)
We feel obligated to mention that the test was conducted twice. The first time, our subject was a Lovett freshman, but after two questions we discovered that he had eaten his subject counterpart, so the test was aborted and new subjects (human and Twinkie) were chosen.

The human and Twinkie subjects were placed together behind a sheet (see Fig. 1). The sentient nature of the human subject was at this point brought into question. When asked to assign himself and the Twinkie the designations A & B without telling us which was which, the human promptly replied "I'll be A." However, we decided to continue the test.

Part I:
The following four questions were asked, and each subject was allowed to answer. The order of answers alternated to balance out the "thinking" time.

Q (cg): What would you describe as the purpose of your existence?
    Subject A: (no answer)
    Subject B: To woo women.
Q (ts): Describe where the other subject is, relative to you.
    Subject B: On a chair.
    Subject A: (no answer)
Q (cg): Describe the last meal you ate.
    Subject A: (no answer)
    Subject B: These chicken chunks (after joking about eating subject A)
Q (ts): How do you feel about your mother?
    Subject B: She gives me money, I like her.
    Subject A: (no answer)

Part II:
Next, some free association was done on each of the subjects.

Subject A
Subject B
Prompt Answer Prompt Answer
Love (cg) (no answer) Health (cg) Sex
Spam (cg) (no answer) Lovett (cg) Sex
Blender (ts) (no answer) Ribosome (ts) Sex
Flame (ts) (no answer) Chlorophyll (ts) Sex

Long Term Results:
After the test was over, our human subject was allowed to eat the Twinkie subject. After he departed, we analyzed the data. After careful study of all responses, we determined that subject A was the Twinkie, and B was the human.

Since we were able to distinguish between the two subjects, the Twinkie fails the Turing test.

Twinkies are not sentient in any way we can understand.

Possible Applications:
If you want to amuse your friends, perform this test with them and a Twinkie. They will either think you are very weird and never talk to you again, or they will enjoy the humor of it all and get a tasty snack treat to boot!


Test Information:
Test Subject: Standard Twinkie
Control Subject: Standard Twinkie
Test Location: 1st through 6th floor, Lovett College, Rice University
Start Time: Monday, May 1, 1995 14:21 CST
Stop Time: Monday, May 1, 1995 14:37 CST

Test Description:
To test the gravitational response of a Twinkie, one Twinkie was taken to the 6th floor of Lovett and released over the edge (see Fig. 1). This process was repeated twice on the same Twinkie.

gravitational Figure 1:Twinkie scientist Chris Gouge observes a graphically- enhanced Twinkie respond to gravity around the 4th floor
Before Test:
Before the test, both the control and the experimental Twinkies appeared within the range that would be described as a "normal" Twinkie. It should be noted that there was a high wind during the test.

Immediate Results:
As soon as the Twinkie was released, it began to fall. It fell until it hit the ground. Upon impact, there was a loud "splut" sound (see Fig. 2). A small crack opened on one side of the Twinkie (see Fig. 3). There was no noticeable change in
gravitational Figure 2:The experimental Twinkie as it lay after the gravitational response. Creamy filling marks on the sidewalk may account for the "splut" sound
the control.

The Twinkie was then dropped again. The same "splut" sound was heard on impact. The fissure in the side of the Twinkie widened. Again, there was no noticeable change in the control.

Long Term Results:
The Twinkie was observed for a period of time after impact. There was no additional change in the experimental Twinkie or the control Twinkie once impact had occurred.

Twinkies are affected by gravity. However, their reaction upon impact is much smaller than expected, and they maintain a good deal of structural integrity from such a lofty fall.

Possible Applications:
If one needed to jump off of the sixth floor of a building and land safely, one could either pad the ground or one's self with Twinkies; although the Twinkies would likely not
gravitational Figure 3:Chris Gouge's index finger (far right) deftly singles out the experimental Twinkie (right), characterized by a small fissure.
survive the fall, they would break one's fall so that one could escape unharmed. Note: we have not experimentally verified this application, and we do not suggest you do so. In the event you do not heed our warning, however, could you tell us how it went? Thanks.

(A sampling of some responses to The T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. Project)

"You guys are SICK!" (or something like that)

Who would have thought that Twinkies would have generated so much mail? Besides the threats from the Twinkies Liberation Front, we also get some very interesting responses from Twinkie scientists (amateur and otherwise) from around the world. (We're upset that some countries don't import Twinkies. The time for revolution in these countries has come!)

Responses are still pouring in. Some are slightly funny, some lame, some just strange. Then every once in a while we get a letter that makes us stop what we're doing, think a bit, and then continue to laugh, cry, and every once in a while call our lawyers to set up a restraining order.

For all those out there with opinions to share, or at least a desire to write just about anything to get published on a webpage, here are our favorites of what you've sent in. For the rest of you out there not already memorialized here, keep sending us your thoughts, dreams, heartaches, etc. about Twinkies. It's comforting when we get mail. It makes us realize that there are people out in the world scarier than us, no matter what our mothers might say.


We got a really lengthy response from Kevin Hames of NASA. Everybody has heard about the incredible shelf life of Twinkies (rumors abound about large stashes of Twinkies in nuclear shelters, etc). Who would have thought Twinkies could go into space?

Thanks for sharing your test results with the rest of the world. I believe that your data will be very important to NASA's Space Station Program.

We at NASA spend a great deal of time testing all objects that fly into space. Although the NASA community at large was skeptical that a Twinkie could be certified for flight, to the point of not even mentioning Twinkies as a possible food for astronauts, I personally believe that the addition of Twinkies to the astronauts' standard daily rations could spell the difference between an efficient, happy crew and full-fledged mutiny in space. Your test results should prove my case to the point where official flight certification tests can begin.

The only problem I can currently envision is that our International Partners, when on the Space Station, will have unrestricted access to our Twinkies. Although the Cold War is over, some technologies are still restricted for export, per the Missile Technology Control Act. I'll have to check with the judge advocate concerning this issue, and although I believe in treating our partners in as fair a manner as possible, I shudder to think of the consequences arising out of unrestricted exploitation of Twinkie technology in the hands of unscrupulous individuals.

But how will they taste with Tang?


We received many tales of other Twinkie incidents, some better than others. Most of them were about intentional Twinkie mutilations, but the occasional tale arose about accidental Twinkie mishaps, such as this one from James King:

At a small overpriced college somewhere near Cleveland, there are people who eat in cooperative dining halls. A while back, maybe 8 years or so, there was a special meal prepared to celebrate their collective nostalgia for the sugary foods of youth. The breadbakers inserted surprise Twinkies in the loaves of wholegrain bread. Good idea, no? Once in the ovens, the loaves exploded in volcanic blurps of white creamy lava. Being educated people, they called the Hostess 1-800 number on the back of the Twinkie packages and explained their situation. They learned that the said pastries are, in fact, never baked. They are polymers with a painted dye on the bottom designed to mimic the golden brown of the oven. When Hostess was asked whether the Twinkies could still be consumed, they were told, "We would not recommend that."

Bizarre. Of course, "golden sponge cake" sounds much more appetizing than "painted artifical polymers," so this story sounds wholy plausible. More to the point, it was sent to us over the Internet by someone who claimed to have attended a college (!) near Cleveland. This leaves no room for doubt. Nonetheless, as scientists, we are always trying to prove everyone is lying, so we called Hostess ourselves and they claim that Twinkies are, in fact, baked. They even asked, rather scientifically, why Twinkies would have leavening (that's sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, and monocalcium phosphate to you and me) in them if they weren't baked. Somebody is fibbing here. We don't know who.


Hey, who needs truth when you can cook? Scott Rakestraw sent us a cool recipe. Remember, kids, cooking is just science that's tasty!

Twinkies Flambe
1 box of 10 Twinkies
1 12 oz. can of fruit pie filling (cherry in my case)
1 Bottle of brandy (must be better than 90 proof)
 Powdered sugar

Put the Twinkies into a 9"x13" flameproof baking pan. Spread the fruit pie filling on top of the Twinkies. Splash a good amount of the brandy over the whole glop. Ignite carefully and allow to burn for several seconds. Extinguish the flames while they are still bluish (Ed: Although not verified experimentally, we cannot recommend fire extinguishers for this step). Dust with powdered sugar. Serve and enjoy.

Being a chemical engineer (and a cheap student—brandy is expensive), I decided to partially distill the cheap brandy on my stovetop to enhance the alcohol content. The distillation proceeded just as it is described in an undergraduate textbook. However, I forgot about the ethanol-water azeotrope at 95% ethanol content (Ed: But we're sure you at home won't). So when I poured the brandy distillate on the Twinkies on the night of the dinner, the Twinkies rapidly soaked up 190 proof alcohol.

I ignited the Twinkies to the pleasure of the dinner guests. When the flames were extinguished, and the guests were served, we all fell over backwards out of our chairs as the impact of 190 proof sponge cake sucked every water molecule out of our throats. Following recovery aided by huge quantities of Kool-Aid, all of the guests got comfortably numb by eating more modest portions of Twinkies flambe.

Never one to fear the progress of science or open flames, we were going to perform this experiment, er, recipe, last Thanksgiving, when we remembered that we had invited Fire Marshall Stanowoski to our meal, and scrubbed our plans. Later on, we realized that we had actually invited Stan Marshall, who would have enjoyed this meal, as he used to be a fire-eater down at the local carnival. Regardless, let's all remember what Fire Marshall Stanowoski always says: "Kids, don't try anything at home! I know where you live!"


But when Fire Marshall Stanowoski isn't looking out for our best interests, Valerie Lyons is:

    Twinkies contain polysorbate 60.
    The trade name for polysorbate 60 is "Tween."
    You can verify this in the Merck Index.
    Pure Tween looks like axle grease.
    Could this be how Twinkies got their name: TWEENkies?

A mystery to be sure. Great truths often sound really goofy, so obviously this one is right up there. Next time we call Hostess, we'll ask them how Twinkies got their name. Of course, they'll only give us the official party line, but it's a starting point for our research into the real truth, which, we presume, is pretty close to our hunch that they're actually made out of the genetic material of twins. It just makes sense.


Everybody knows that all those preservatives and artificial things in Twinkies must have strange effects on your body, but either they are very small or nobody has lived long enough to pass the word on, if you know what we mean. But we did get one note from Megan Donahue explaining some side effects that she noticed.

    A female relative, forever nameless, while 9 months pregnant, got a craving...She wanted Twinkies! She consumed (without barfing) 24 Twinkies, and went into labor within 24 hours.

Hmmm. This is fascinating. Our first reaction on noticing the relationship between hours and Twinkies was "Wow! One Twinkie per hour!" I mean, come on! Have some self-respect! Being scientists, we quickly realized that each Twinkie eaten could not translate into an hour until labor, because otherwise, you'd have women going into labor instantly unless they continued to engorge themselves on those tasty snack treats—a scenario we're sure our friends at Hostess wouldn't mind. No, we divined that the relationship is an inverse linear one (duh). Thus, to cause labor in say, 10 minutes, one should eat 3,456 twinkies. We have alerted our local hospital to this discovery.


Sometimes, you get letters that make you think. Other times, you get letters that are nearly illegible, in spite of the fact that they have been, we assume, typed on a standard keyboard. It is a rare pleasure when you get letters that do both. Richard Coberly (we assume that his name was spelled correctly) wrote us such a letter:

    Hi I bout(sic) a box of DingDongs yestrday(sic) and win(sic) I opend(sic) the box I found a have(sic) eating(sic) one my Wife and I ant(sic) to(sic) hapie(sic) about that

We are, in a word, stunned. Is it poetry? Is it a secret code? For those of you at home who'd like to play along, don't read the rest of this paragraph until you've solved it. After pondering over this letter for longer than we'd like to admit, we realized that Mr. Coberly found a half-eaten Ding Dong in a box he bought yesterday, and, naturally, he and his wife aren't too happy about that. Perhaps this was a Zen moment he wanted to share with us. Perhaps he thinks that we at the T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. Project run Interstate Brands Corporation, parent company to Hostess. We only wish it were true. Not wanting to destroy Mr. Coberly's world view, we took it upon ourselves to send him the half of a Ding Dong that we had not finished, hoping he would assume it was the half he noticed missing, and all would be well again. We await confirmation of this fact.


You wouldn't know it from our copious commenting, but we really like a good minimalist message now and then. As you might expect, Lorne Davis more than delivered in this case:

    e mail me back piese saveing ok piese

I don't think there's much we can say in response to that, except, oh, maybe, "what?", or "huh?", but even that doesn't come close to expressing what we're truly thinking.


Hey, don't think that just because some of the letters we've printed on this page contain what could pass for sentient thought that we're sorely lacking in a good dose of absurdism, or maybe insanity, or perhaps just bad typing skills. Oh no! Diana Swiger, or perhaps several monkeys and their computer who use that as their pen name, related to us the following story:

    I realy injoyed(sic) your Twinkies and all the mean D/M things that you did to them. I am wondering, i used to know a wombat and peaple(sic) that were in wombat fandom that would show up at Disclave in the early 90 and late 80, was wondering if any of you ever went to sf convention in the DC or MD. All so(sic), just as a lark have you ever met a Tod Masco, at CMU in PA? we did a simular(sic) experment(sic), tho(sic) we used the Cheatreadal(sic) of learning at the bulding(sic...okay, I'm getting sic (sic) of typing sic, just know that we faithfully cut and pasted the letter in its entirety) that the twinkie was tossed off of.

    We never found the Twinkie... so we do not know its fate, tho we suspet that it might have been eaten by a starving Freshman. My name is Diana was from pa, used to miss spend a lot of time at CMU, with out ever being a student ther, but By mistake i hacked into the artifical intelegence program. ( it was not my fault.. some one left it open, and I made a stab at a pass word,,,,... ( like some one with a name of hobit would not use friend as a pass word.. or midded earth, or elf.. (you needed 3 to get in .. and i got all 3.. shjould have seen the look on his face.. he crashed the termanal and told me to leave.. ... but that is a nother story..

    any way just wanted to say that I had the best laught I have had in a long time over the twinkie intelegence test.. I would like to copy it.. but am not untill or unless i can get permision from you ..

Of course, national security interests dictate that we not give Diana permission to use the "intelegence" test, as she has already demonstrated an overly keen mind in what we refer to as "the hobit-hacking incident at learning Cheatreadal." Were she somehow able to duplicate our research and use the knowledge for evil, the implications would be devastating. We suggest that she use her powers for good, perhaps by helping those wombats she keeps talking about.

Hey! We think you should know:
"Twinkies" and the "Twinkie the Kid character" are registered trademarks of
Interstate Brands Corporation, 12 East Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111.

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
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Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024