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TODAY contributor

Explainer: 37 things Twinkie eaters ingest

  • Image: Twinkies
    Dwight Eschliman Photography

    Oh, Twinkie snack cake. As a nation, we’ve adored you for 80 years. But what are you made of?

    Author Steve Ettlinger spent years unearthing the answers to that very question. Using a Twinkie label as a guide, he interviewed chemical engineers and industrial bakers and even traveled 1,600 feet below the surface of the Earth to see where Twinkie ingredients — the same ingredients used in plenty of processed foods — are, ummmm, mined. He chronicled his findings in his fun-to-read book, “Twinkie, Deconstructed.”

    The book inspired photographer Dwight Eschliman to photograph the 37 or so ingredients in a Twinkie snack cake. Eschliman’s photos can be seen here, with each ingredient appearing in descending order of prominence. (A few Twinkie ingredients such as calcium sulfate, a food-grade equivalent of plaster of Paris, are not pictured.) Just click “Next” at the left to continue the journey into snack-cake science.

    To read the full story about Ettlinger’s and Eschliman’s work, click here.

  • Ingredient No. 1

    Wheat flour

    Image: Wheat flour
    Dwight Eschliman Photography

  • Ingredient No. 2

    Image: Folic acid
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Folic acid

  • Ingredient No. 3

    Image: Niacin
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Niacin

  • Ingredient No. 4

    Image: Thiamine Mononitrate
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Thiamine mononitrate

  • Ingredient No. 5

    Image: Riboflavin
    Dwight Eschliman Photography

    Riboflavin

  • Ingredient No. 6

    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Iron. (The ingredient in Twinkies is ferrous sulfate, an iron compound.)

  • Ingredient No. 7

    Image: Sugar
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Sugar

  • Ingredient No. 8

    Image: Water
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Water

  • Ingredient No. 9

    Image: Corn syrup
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Corn syrup

  • Ingredient No. 10

    Image: High fructose corn syrup
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    High fructose corn syrup

  • Ingredient No. 11

    Image: Vegetable shortening
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Vegetable shortening

  • Ingredient No. 12

    Image: Animal shortening
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Animal shortening

  • Ingredient No. 13

    Image: Whole eggs
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Whole eggs

  • Ingredient No. 14

    Image: Dextrose
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Dextrose

  • Ingredient No. 15

    Image: Modified corn starch
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Modified cornstarch

  • Ingredient No. 16

    Image: Corn flour
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Corn flour

  • Ingredient No. 17

    Image: Glucose
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Glucose

  • Ingredient No. 18

    Image: Baking soda
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Baking soda

  • Ingredient No. 19

    Image: Monocalcium phosphate
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Monocalcium phosphate

  • Ingredient No. 20

    Image: c
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Sodium acid pyrophosphate

  • Ingredient No. 21

    Image: Sweet dairy whey
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Sweet dairy whey

  • Ingredient No. 22

    Image: Soy protein isolate
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Soy protein isolate

  • Ingredient No. 23

    Image: Calcium caseinate
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Calcium caseinate

  • Ingredient No. 24

    Image: Sodium caseinate
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Sodium caseinate

  • Ingredient No. 25

    Image: Soy flour
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Soy flour

  • Ingredient No. 26

    Image: Salt
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Salt

  • Ingredient No. 27

    Image: Monoglyceride
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Monoglyceride

  • Ingredient No. 28

    Image: Diglyceride
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Diglyceride

  • Ingredient No. 29

    Image: Polysorbate 60
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Polysorbate 60

  • Ingredient No. 30

    Image: Corn dextrin
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Corn dextrin

  • Ingredient No. 31

    Image: Soy lecithin
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Soy lecithin

  • Ingredient No. 32

    Image: Cornstarch
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Cornstarch

  • Ingredient No. 33

    Image: Cellulose gum
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Cellulose gum

  • Ingredient No. 34

    Image: Sodium stearoyl lactylate
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Sodium stearoyl lactylate

  • Ingredient No. 35

    Image: Sorbic acid
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Sorbic acid

  • Ingredient No. 36

    Image:  FD&C Yellow #5
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    FD&C Yellow #5

  • Ingredient No. 37

    Image: Red 40
    Dwight Eschliman Photography
    Red 40

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