REFILE-FACTBOX-Twinkies: the All-American junk food

(Adds dropped words in paragraph 7)

WASHINGTON, Nov 16 (Reuters) -

The Twinkie is as American as apple pie.

The quintessential junk food treat - a cream-filled,

150-calorie sponge cake - has been called the "cream puff of the

proletariat" and the "snack with a snack in the middle." It

faces extinction now that its maker, Hostess Brands, announced

plans to liquidate amid a dispute with striking bakers.

Here are some facts about Twinkies:

* James A. Dewar, a manager for the Continental Baking Co,

came up with the idea in 1930 after seeing the machines that

made shortcakes with strawberry filling sit idle at the bakery

when strawberries were out of season. He injected the elongated

sponge cake with banana filling - vanilla would be used later -

and called it a Twinkie after seeing a billboard for the Twinkle

Toe Shoe Company. Dewar, who died in 1985 at age 88, said he ate

at least two packets of Twinkies a week.

* Twinkies were scorned by nutritionists as the archetypal

unhealthy snack and became a comic's punch line, but somebody is

eating them. Hostess was able to manufacture 1,000 a minute at

its bakeries and in 2005 the Washington Post said Americans had

bought $47 million worth of Twinkies in the previous year.

* Many jokes about Twinkies play off their longevity thanks

to their ample chemical preservatives. There has been much

speculation about how many decades a Twinkie can sit on a shelf

before being eaten. For the sake of freshness, Theresa Cogswell

of the Twinkies' parent company Hostess, has said that no more

than 25 days was ideal but a Maine college professor gained

notoriety by keeping one atop his blackboard for 30 years. He

said it still looked good.

* In 2000 President Bill Clinton's White House Millennium

Council put together a time capsule in order to give people in

2100 an idea of how we lived. Its contents included historic

items such as a piece of the Berlin Wall, film of Neil Armstrong

walking on the moon, a U.S. World War Two soldier's helmet, a

photo of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks and a Twinkie.

* The trial of San Francisco city supervisor Dan White, who

fatally shot the mayor and another supervisor in 1978, gave rise

to what came to be known as the "Twinkie defense." The defense

said White was suffering mental problems, as evidenced by the

way he had given up his healthy lifestyle and started eating

junk food. The defense argued that this behavior was an

indication of his instability. White ended up serving five years

in prison for voluntary manslaughter.

* Twinkies' surge in popularity in the 1950s was partially

attributed to its ads on "The Howdy Doody Show" directed at

kids, who demanded the desserts in their lunch boxes.

* Hostess collected recipes from connoisseurs to publish the

"The Twinkies Cookbook" in 2006. The 50 recipes included

Twinkie-based burritos, lasagna, tiramisu, milkshakes and sushi

(with dried fruit rather than fish). Deep-fried Twinkies have

been a staple at U.S. state fairs.

* The Twinkie has a long list of television and movie

credits. Archie Bunker always had one in his lunch on the sitcom

"All in the Family" and they have been featured in the animated

series "Family Guy" and "The Simpsons." A character in "The Deer

Hunter" eats Twinkies dipped in mustard. In the wacky comedy

"Ghostbusters" a scientist tracking demons calculates that the

level of "psychokinetic energy" in New York City could normally

be as big as a Twinkie but things had become so bad that that

Twinkie would now be 35 feet (about 10.5 meters) long and weigh

600 pounds (about 270 kg).

* Twinkies are just part of the Hostess snack food family.

Other well-known treats from the company include Ding Dongs, Ho

Hos, Suzy Q's, Sno Balls, Zingers and Drake's cakes.

* Twitter and other social media were filled with laments

about a Twinkie-less world on Friday. Entrepreneurs and

speculators turned to eBay. A box of 10 Twinkies was being

offered on the online auction site for a starting bid of $500.

"What better way to say, 'I love you' than with the gift of an

American icon that will be gone soon," the seller said.

(Editing by David Storey)

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