Ah, the Twinkie. Despite its less-than-healthy nutrition profile and tenuous but well-known-in-pop-culture tie to depression-fueled murderous impulses, the snack cake’s still scarily popular.

Twinkies are exactly what Michael Pollan might refer to as “edible food-like products,” being made with a lot of genetically modified high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated soybean oil. The other ingredients in Twinkies are even more scary — and in fact inspired a book, Twinkie, Deconstructed, by one Steve Ettlinger, who created his table of contents from a list of the Twinkie’s ingredients!

Twinkies are obviously connected to food industries such as corn, soybeans, wheat, eggs, and milk, but in fact, Twinkies ingredients are also manufactured with 14 of the top 20 chemicals made in the U.S., not even including salt (which goes into chlorine) or petroleum. The unlikely food sub-ingredients sulfuric acid, ethylene, lime, and phosphoric acid top the list.
While your adult self’s grossed out by this new Twinkie intelligence, the child inside you may still savor memories of recess and snack time and Twinkie’s sweet, spongy creaminess — nevermind that Twinkies don’t actually have any cream in it (thus the long shelf life of the “food"). If so, you don’t have to resign yourself to a lifetime of Twinkie-less-ness. Just bake your own Twinks, sans Polysorbate 60!

Chow’s got the recipe for Twinks, complete with a real cream Vanilla Cream recipe. You’ll only need six different ingredients — opt for organic versions — to create these home-baked, healthier Twinks.

Chow’s recipe calls for a pan with Twinkie-shaped depressions, but Todd Wilbur of TopSecretRecipes.com shows how you can make Twinks with foil if you don’t want to invest in an expensive pan.

Watch until the end to find out what an 11-year-old Twinkie looks like! And if you’re on a gluten-free diet, Elena’s Pantry’s got a gluten-free Twinks recipe for you too.

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