That's One Old Twinkie
August 3, 2012 1:43 AM   Subscribe

I bought a couple of Twinkies today and just noticed that their expiry date is August 2007. My SO has misgivings about eating something so, well, old. I contend that Twinkies are basically Cold War-era bunker spec foodstuffs. So: Perfectly Fine, or Deadly Poison?
posted by MarchHare to Food & Drink (41 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
i would give them a through-the-cellophane pastry massage to see if they are still ediblesquishy, and if they were not rock hard doorstops i would put them right up in my mouth.

i would like to know where you came upon these super old twinkies.
posted by quiteliterally at 1:52 AM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you want to live dangerously, you could open one and see if it smells/looks funny in any way - maybe try a tiny piece and wait for a couple of hours to see if you drop dead from food poisoning. Expiry dates are hardly an exact science, and have all sorts of conservative assumptions built in.

That being said, you need to NOT EAT THIS: most sane people would come to the same conclusion after balancing the relative benefits of scoring a few points over your SO versus a potential trip to the ER and/or intestinal fun times.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:53 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm in Australia, so our working theory is that they came in on a really slow boat.
posted by MarchHare at 1:54 AM on August 3, 2012 [16 favorites]


Does the package actually say "expiration date" or does it instead say "best by?"

If the latter, go for it. If the former, exercise due diligence.
posted by zippy at 2:03 AM on August 3, 2012


Do not eat.

If you would have bought this sometime pre-2007 and just rediscovered the box in your pantry, I would argue to give it a try. But in this case you have no idea where the box has been in the last five years, if it was properly stored etc. Worst case scenario, an individual placed a tempered with box of cookies in a store in an attempt to harm people.
Obviously that's pretty unlikely to happen, luckily. But think about it this way, how many boxes of cookies are bought each week? Each month? How is it possible the box would stay on the shelves for that long? Even if it came on a really slow boat, the thing is that there are regulations what can be sold - if the date is expired the products can not be sold/not sold for the full price. Check your local laws for this.

I repeat: do not eat. To settle your argument, both of you are kind of right.
posted by travelwithcats at 2:13 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Snopes to the rescue: "Twinkies have a shelf life of 25 days."
posted by zippy at 2:18 AM on August 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


If you bought them today, I would take them back to whoever you bought them from.
posted by Segundus at 2:19 AM on August 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yes, I popped in to link to the aforementioned Snopes article, as well as to provide anecdata: my gradeschool friend, the One Who Would Eat Anything, once ate Twinkie that was like 3 years past its expiration date, and it was the only thing I've ever witnessed him having an adverse reaction to. This was that kid who graduated from eating worms and dirt to dare-based concoctions at lunch time, so it's not like he was delicate. In conclusion: Do Not Eat.
posted by Mizu at 2:42 AM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth, here is an article on the US Army figuring out how to make a two-year sandwich (now with iron fillings!). A sandwich is obviously much different from a twinky, but it gives you a ballpark figure that makes five years past expiry look somewhat optimistic.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:43 AM on August 3, 2012


The chances of them killing you probably aren't that great, but they're almost certainly going to be disgusting, and quite possibly leave you spewing from both ends. Which is not dignified. I'd avoid.
posted by howfar at 2:44 AM on August 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think you owe it to MetaFilter, if not science, to at least taste these and report back. Myth Busters-style.
posted by Dragonness at 2:58 AM on August 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


For pleasure? No, you'll probably regret it (bad taste, probable intestinal distress, etc)

For science, and the claim that you once ate a 5-year-old Twinkie? Sure!
posted by littlesq at 3:09 AM on August 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Just eat them. Start with a teeny-tiny bite. YOLO.
posted by Ted Maul at 3:17 AM on August 3, 2012


They are five years old! Of course don't eat them.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 3:32 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


We have joked tonight about the possibility of presenting it to the 4 year old, asking "This snack is older than you. Would you eat it?" Of course, we know that we'd scarcely get as far as "This sna..." before it disappeared into his maw. So, not a thing we're doing.
posted by MarchHare at 3:37 AM on August 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


If I were you, I would eat them. Seriously, if you won't do it, you could send them via slow boat to me and I will eat them for you. Apparently this girl ate a seven year old twinkie and mentioned it was rock hard but didn't mention getting sick.
posted by Literaryhero at 3:56 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Five years old? It's not a cure for cancer for pete's sake, just toss it.

I eat expired stuff all the time. But not five years expired.
posted by futureisunwritten at 4:22 AM on August 3, 2012


Sometimes expiration dates are almost written in code. Are you 100% positive they're really that old?
posted by smirkyfodder at 4:30 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sometimes expiration dates are almost written in code. Are you 100% positive they're really that old?

Yeah, could be a date order problem. Like 07 01 12 could be Jan 12, 2007 or July 1, 2012.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:16 AM on August 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


"If in doubt, throw it out"
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 5:56 AM on August 3, 2012


There must be a point where a twinky can't get any more expired. An expired twinky constant.

I'd eat it.
posted by Packed Lunch at 6:33 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I ate a pack of Oreos last week that expired in August 2011. I would eat those Twinkies.
posted by jabes at 6:37 AM on August 3, 2012


Oh for Christ's sake, take a bite. Just chew thoroughly before you swallow it. If it tastes funny, spit it out. It's not going to kill you. Might give you the shits. Might.
posted by atchafalaya at 6:53 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you don't need to be anywhere or do anything in particular for the next 24 hours, and you really want to do it in the name of science and principle, then you can probably give it a shot.... I think Twinkies are horrible even before they expire, so I can't imagine risking gastroenteritis for them, but there have been foods I've truly loved that I know are very questionable and I have had the longing to eat them regardless. So I do know where you're coming from on it. Then again, it's a Twinky and you probably could just go back to the store and exchange them for newer ones for free... so I dunno, the risk:benefit here seems to be unnecessarily high.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:03 AM on August 3, 2012


Oh come on. It's a Twinkie. I'd eat it.

I eat a lot of things, though.
posted by kbanas at 7:07 AM on August 3, 2012


Yeah, US dates are formatted MM-DD-YY because we're idiots and contrarians. I suspect this is what's going on here. At least, I hope so.
posted by mosk at 7:11 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


If only for the Science!, eat it.

Whatever's wrong with it is going to be obvious on that first bite. If it's horrible, it's not going down, anyway.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:11 AM on August 3, 2012


Hostess is, I'm sure, seeing upsides and downsides to the rumors of how Twinkies last forever. However, you might consider that they have a fleet of delivery drivers and that these guys will pull expired merchandise from stores. The expiration dates on them are never more than a few weeks out. Expired merchandise often gets taken to a local thrift bakery and sold at a steep discount.

I'm guessing that you bought these at a gas station or other convenience store not actually serviced by Hostess. In that model, a store owner goes out to the grocery store, buys a large box of Twinkies, and then puts them out on his shelf. In the best case, they've been sitting on the shelf, in air conditioning, for all that time. In the more likely case, they might have been in a hot backroom, cooking slowly, for all that time.

I've usually seen this happen at gas stations with aspirations-of-being-grand convenience stores, often with things like candy bars, like one joint in Chicago that has an entire row of candy and candy bars, half of it expired.

I would probably err on the side of caution and not eat it, because getting seriously sick isn't worth it. Further, there's probably a customer service number for Hostess on the back, and if you call them and report it, they might even do something like send you a coupon for a free replacement pack of Twinkies.
posted by jgreco at 7:13 AM on August 3, 2012


If you want to do an experiment, keep them for another five years and check back in 2017 to see whether they still look good enough to buy.

Do not eat them, now or later.
posted by snorkmaiden at 7:21 AM on August 3, 2012


What does the expiration date look like? "Aug 15, 2007" or "Aug 07" or something else? For example, these Twinkies do not expire in 2026.

Googling revealed pictures of a three-year expired Twinkie that was so hard it would support a scissor. It seems unlikely that a five-year-old Twinkie would feel like a new Twinkie.
posted by chazlarson at 7:44 AM on August 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I agree with the others that you're reading the expiration date wrong. And since it's only Aug 3, I say that it's perfectly fine.
posted by valeries at 8:04 AM on August 3, 2012


Can you post a photo of the expiration date so we can satisfy our collective OCD?
posted by elizardbits at 9:26 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Old twinkies go hard (like you could use them to knock on someone's door). If it's soft, it's most likely a date format issue.

Go back to the source, compare against other twinkies with other dates to deduce the format.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:57 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hear and respect all the sensible people here who say that you should not eat these Twinkies.

Still, I would totally fucking eat those Twinkies.
posted by Dr. Wu at 12:51 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hi folks,

Thanks for the feedback overnight (Adelaide time). From this photo of one of the items in question, you can clearly see "Aug 07". If zippy and Snopes are right about the 25 day shelf life, then it seems possible that Hostess wouldn't bother to print an exipry year and so all is well, and that these have a Best Before date of a few days from now.

If that's incorrect, and Hostess have decided that the cost of an apostrophe in front of the "07" on a per-unit basis could not be justified and that an approximate one month window of 'freshness' is accurate enough, well I think I'm still going to eat one of them, at least, for science. They still feel pliant and soft as they should, and there's no interior fogging or discolouration to the packaging that would suggest any outgassing or decay of the filling.

For those of you who have asked about why this might not have been recalled by the vendor, it's worth saying that selling potentially expired American snack products is kind of a cottage industry in Australia. A lot of little bricks and motar shops have sprung up in the last ten years or so specialising in stuff like Reece's Pieces, Marshmallow Fluff, Peanut Butter M&Ms, and other products that were never launched here, but with which we're intimately familiar with due to, for want of a more polite term, cultural imperialism. It's a niche market that appeals to our morbid curiosity and our Bowie-like fear.
posted by MarchHare at 5:21 PM on August 3, 2012


Okay people! Let's get some data here! StillTasty.com (the arbiter of all "Can I Eat It" disputes) says that Twinkies have a shelf life (unopened) of 1-2 months.

On preview: Yes, you're right, it expires four days from now. US food expiration dates always specify the day (August 7, 2007) and would never just show a month (August, 2007).
posted by ErikaB at 5:25 PM on August 3, 2012


Pah! We've been cheated of our sport! You put that Twinkie in a drawer until 2017 or you are a tease and a coward. I wasn't in favour of eating five year old snacks before, but it seems to me after offering and then snatching away the possibility, you need to be taught a lesson.
posted by howfar at 5:37 PM on August 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


I want to put logical date stamps on multiple twinkies & then secret them away all over the house. Chuck half a dozen or so, up in the ceiling space.

I'm pretty sure this is one of my better ideas.
posted by Packed Lunch at 7:23 PM on August 3, 2012


Strongly seconding howfar.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 12:02 AM on August 4, 2012


Yeah, that's Month: August, Day: 07. You may now stuff your face with a product so incredible (for various values of incredible) that some would eat it five years hence.
posted by zippy at 12:17 AM on August 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks all. Just just been consumed, and they were - as always - delicious. It's been a couple of years since I last had one, and I'm glad they're not available at every convenience store here; it would be terrible for my health. Happy to report that we're talking about buying another half dozen or so to cache away for a long-term study..
posted by MarchHare at 1:33 AM on August 4, 2012


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