10 Twinkie Sightings in Films and TV
From Ghostbusters and Die Hard through to the pages of Batman, we trace the enduring media career of the humble Twinkie...

by Gaye Birch

Unless you're a fan of made-for-TV movies, follow U.S. state politics, gay rights struggles or outrageous legal tactics, you may not know the depths of slights the Twinkie has endured. Now, with Sean Penn in the title role of the massively-multi-award-nominated, Milk, revelations of the maligning of one of America's favorite and most famous treats have reached a much wider audience.

If you haven't seen the film or heard the true story it's based on, we hope we're not spoiling too much to say (it's a biopic of events from 1978-79, a bit like blurting out the fate of the ship in Titanic, really) there's a trial involved—for a murder—and the attempted argument is, put simplistically, one of diminished capacity, evidenced by eating too many high sugar, low sustenance snack foods while depressed. It became known as The Twinkie Defense.

As if being linked to the impetus for manslaughter isn't bad enough, Twinkies have also recently joined the Oreo cookie as a derogatory term for individuals of races who, supposedly, don't embrace their ethnicity. In Harold & Kumar Get The Munchies (or Go To White Castle in the U.S.), Harold (John Cho) is accused by a fellow Korean of being a Twinkie, which he explains is "yellow on the outside, white on the inside.”

We think these are unfair misuses of a much-loved foodstuff, junk or otherwise, and we take this opportunity to remember the Twinkie of kinder days, in some of its most memorable moments for geeks and non-geeks alike.

Come with us as we revisit some exceptional Twinkie-fied moments in film and television history. Love them, hate them, wonder about the taste, appeal, and longevity, we're sure you'll agree, they're in good company. You can view clips of each sighting below.

iron-giantThe Iron Giant features a prominently placed Twinkie in one of many great scenes from this fabulous animated film of 1999. Hogarth demonstrates you can never have too much creamy filling or ever get your fill of late night snacks and scary movies. The three convenient signature injection holes on the bottom of his broken promise are evident, even in cartoon form.



All In The Family is the American version of Till Death Us Do Part with Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) taking the stateside chair of Alf Garnett (Warren Mitchell). In the Episode 34 clip from “Sammy's Visit” (1972), the joke isn't that the bigoted Bunker offers Sammy Davis Jr. an inferior snack in a Twinkie, but that he actually considers opening a fresh box to be the ultimate treat—and greatest sacrifice—for his guest.

Twinkies have achieved a status beyond that of an iconic snack food; they're also the stuff of legend. One urban myth persists that Twinkies last a lifetime and beyond, probably originating in the fact that they enjoy a long-lasting freshness because they have absolutely no dairy products in their makeup, which, compared with conventional cakes, gives them a super-cake shelf life, and they take much longer to spoil. Movies and cartoons perpetuate the claim and reruns rejuvenate the lore for new generations of box watchers...

family-guyFamily Guy's “Da Boom” (Season 2 Episode 3) originally aired December 26, 1999, a year that fizzled into anticlimactic, unrealized fears for us, but the Griffins saw in a catastrophic Y2K. Peter, Lois, Meg, Chris, Stewie and Brian, survive a nuclear holocaust to be left in a world without food. Their only salvation from starvation may be at the “Twinkee” factory, cleverly, ever-so-slightly misspelled, but a Twinkee is a Twinky is a Twinkie.

homer-twinkieThe Simpsons episode “Homer and Apu” (Season 5 Episode 13, 1994) has an irate customer attempt to take his overcharged rage out on innocuous, innocent Twinkies at the Kwik-E-Mart. Apu scoffs at the futile effort to destroy the indestructible cellophaned treat.


Die Hard introduced us to loveable cop, Al Powell, in 1988 and we saw the first hint of the strength of his addiction to the paired packs of cream-filled cakes, which he shamefully denied and tried to hide. A bit later in the film he redeems himself among Twinkiephiles everywhere by praising their virtues and recipe while a legend is shot down by super-cop, John McClane. Apparently, thousand-year-old Twinkies are not so tasty.

powellDie Hard 2 dropped us smack dab onto Al's desk and by 1990 he had nothing to hide, proudly displaying his treasured treats in plain sight and even walking through the station munching away. (This demonstrates another advantage of the Twinkie: they're immensely portable and crumb-free, requiring neither plate nor napkin.) We also notice he's switched from the twin packs to the individually wrapped cakes, which means he's buying them by the box now. Very liberating scenes for Twinkie lovers everywhere, earning Al the crown of the Twinkie Flicks King.

Chuck fans were treated to a perfect geeky gift this past Christmas. The reluctant spy sitcom included another Al Powell Twinkie moment—20 years after the original—in Chuck Versus Santa Claus (Season 2 Episode 11, 2008) when it was revealed that the famous Twinkie-toting Sergeant is Buy More manager Big Mike's cake-lovin' cousin. Evidently, they share a fondness for a fondant-filled snack.

robot-chickenRobot Chicken, the stop-motion animated show for adults concocted and constructed by chief geek, Seth Green and Co., had a poke at Twinkie The Kid in the 2006 episode entitled “1987” (Season 2 Episode 6). The Kid finds himself in a thorny situation with a shoot 'em up showdown with some ornery cacti. And what's his reward? Let's just say it's harsh treatment for such a sweet kid.



‘That’s a big Twinkie!’
Ghostbusters is a classic, rare example of perfect casting, lines and timing. Since 1984, it's also brought a certain sugary confection to the consciousness of continents in Mr. Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. But let's not forget the Twinkie's importance in this all-time favorite flick. After all, a New York full of psycho-kinetic energy equaling a 600-pound Twinkie could herald a four-fold cross rip! Whatever that is, it sounds bad. Delicious. But bad. A less noteworthy dessert, Jello, merely merited a fleeting mention in the sequel.

Twinkie "I'm Da Boom King" The Kid is an early commercial featuring the original Twinkie mascot with the ten-gallon hat, first introduced in 1971, and later parodied in the Family Guy ep, Da Boom and Robot Chicken's 1987. Here's the real thing... Please stand up, Twinks.

Twinkie sightings aren't limited to moving media either. (; see story in this issue) has a vast collection of Twinkies in superhero comics and, although clearly headed "Advertisement,” they include some of the most astounding and amazing leaps, bounds, dives and sideways shoves and squeezes to work Twinkies and other Hostess products into the panels.


Despite misuse and abuse, brave Twinkies still court the media, and are happy enough to form associations, even with movie monsters. Funny that these two examples feature green guys, one with "ogre green creamy filling": a foolhardy invitation to ridicule? Or an attempt to break free of the perpetual freshness myths for fear of tiresome time-consuming litigious claims over stale or moldy Twinkies for eons to come? Centuries will tell.

If all that adoration of a fat finger of soft cake is too much even for the sweetest of sweet tooths from Sweetyville among you, take another kind of delight in the following site, which is a virtual swig of vinegar:

The T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. Project
T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. stands for Tests With Inorganic Noxious Kakes In Extreme Situations.
"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." The most painful of Twinkie deaths are on display here. (Excerpts included in this issue.)

Gaye Birch, Lever Cranker
Den Of Geek

Who is Gaye? And what does she wrangle?
It’s a little known fact that the Internet is actually controlled by an intricate collection of pulleys and levers that make words appear, videos roll and pictures flash up on the screen as if by magic. These levers require a special skill and awesome powers to properly operate, and with that in mind, Gaye Birch stepped up for the job. She was the clear and obvious choice.

When she’s not proofing lots of words and wrangling content onto the site, making sure words and pictures go pretty much where they’re supposed to, Gaye watches too much 30 Rock, too much Deep Space Nine, too much Arrested Development and too many old black and white movies.

Gaye's also been known to set fiendishly difficult quizzes and has been discovered sticking Kermit's face in Batman's mask and forcing Zac Efron into the world of Eraserhead. She’s kind like that.

Favorite Film: To Kill A Mockingbird
Favorite Quote: "I caught ye crimson-fisted."
Favorite Song Lyric: "For the world is full of zanies and fools, who don't believe in sensible rules, and won't believe what sensible people say. And because these daft and dewy-eyed dopes keep building up impossible hopes, impossible things are happening every day!"

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“10 Twinkie Sightings…” was first published  February 15, 2009 at Den of Geek and is reprinted by permission.

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