Scientists Discover Twinkies Don't Actually Last Forever

The old adage is that Twinkies could survive a nuclear holocaust; the snack cakes would be the one food that could provide at least the slightest sustenance to those who manage to live through the apocalypse. Believe it or not, that may not be entirely accurate — shocking, right? A set of social media postings capturing severely molded Twinkies has gone viral — largely in part thanks to scientists who leaped to the case of examining the rotten snacks.

It all started nearly a decade ago when Hostess filed for bankruptcy. At the time, hysteria was at an all-time high and the masses flocked to the stores to get Twinkies, Ho-Hos, Ding Dongs, and whatever other snack cakes were available. After all, many thought the products would never be available again. One of those people was photographer and science fiend Colin Purrington.

You see, Purrington got his fair share of snacks and decided to store them in his basement. Then, earlier this month, he got hungry. He went downstairs, grabbed a box of Twinkies, and decided to take a bite — that's when he tasted a cake that he says tasted like an old sock.

"It tasted like old sock," Purrington told NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce. "Not that I've ever eaten old sock."

Upon closer examination, he realized the cakes in the box went bad. While 8 of the cakes looked relatively normal, one of them had a moldy spot. Another, however, was covered completely in mold. In fact, the mold was so prevalent, it created a vacuum effect in the cake's individually-wrapped packaging.

"You end up with a vacuum," West Virginia University fungi expert Brian Lovett told the public radio station "And very well that vacuum may have halted the fungus's ability to continue to grow. We just have the snapshot of what we were sent, but who knows if this process occurred five years ago and he just only noticed it now."

According to Lovett, he and his coworker Matt Kasson were fully expecting putrid smells when they got the Twinkies in to analyze. The scientists had to jump on the case after seeing Purrington's Twinkie tweets go viral. Lovett says the Twinkie impacted most was technically mummified, prohibiting any further growth of bacteria.

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Suffice to say, you may want to check your Twinkies before taking a bite — especially if they're been sitting in your basement for a decade.

Cover photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images