Eight-year-old 'mummified' Twinkies debunk myth that they stay fresh forever

A recent 'experiment' has disproved the urban legend that Twinkies last forever while igniting interest about biology. 

A Pennsylvania man tried eating eight-year-old Twinkies, only to find they tasted like 'rotting ginkgo fruit.' 

Researchers were called upon to investigate the 'mummified' and moldy cakes, one of which took a drill to get through but still had cream filling inside.

The experts discovered a common airborne mold had snuck inside the plastic wrapping when the Twinkie was being packaged and feasted on the golden dessert.

Photos of the Twinkies and the mycologists' analysis have gone viral on Twitter. 

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Researches were called upon to investigate 'mummified' and moldy cakes that tasted like 'rotting ginkgo fruit.' They discovered a common airborne mold snuck inside the plastic wrapping when the Twinkie was being package and feasted on the yellow dessert

Researches were called upon to investigate 'mummified' and moldy cakes that tasted like 'rotting ginkgo fruit.' They discovered a common airborne mold snuck inside the plastic wrapping when the Twinkie was being package and feasted on the yellow dessert

When Hostess declared bankruptcy in 2012, Colin Purrington bought a box of Twinkies, put them in the basement and promptly forgot about them.

Until last week, when in a pandemic-fueled craving, he remembered the eight-year-old snack cakes.

'When there's no desserts in the house, you get desperate,' Purrington, a photographer and stay-at-home dad, told NPR. '[I was] just so bored, with the pandemic. It's terrible, but it just is mind-numbing after a while.'

Like many, he believed the hype about Twinkies' longevity and expected them to be as fresh as the day he bought them.

He took one out of the box and took a bite.

'[It] was chewy, unsweet, and smelled like rotting ginkgo fruit,' he later tweeted. 'I gagged. I have nobody to blame but myself — the box clearly warned, 'Best Used by Nov 26th' 2012.' 

'Although I grew up thinking Twinkies would last for years, if not forever, I was wrong,' he said.

He looked at the others in the package and realized they didn't all have the same golden hue. One had a quarter-sized blemish and the other 'had shriveled into a small log, sucking in the plastic like it was vacuum-packed,' Purrington said in one of a series of

.

Colin Purrington took a bite out of a Twinkie he had been saving since 2012. '[It] was chewy, unsweet, and smelled like rotting ginkgo fruit,' he later tweeted. 'I gagged.'

Colin Purrington took a bite out of a Twinkie he had been saving since 2012. '[It] was chewy, unsweet, and smelled like rotting ginkgo fruit,' he later tweeted. 'I gagged.'

'Is that something a fungus or bacteria does, or is there some abiotic chain-reaction taking place?' he asked.

His tweets caught the eye of mycologists Brian Lovett and Matt Kasson of West Virginia University in Morgantown.

Purrington sent the Twinkies to the scientists who wanted to find out just what had infected his snacks.   

Kasson

, 'Operation #MoldyTwinkie.' 

The Twinkie Purrington bit out of (left) next to a new Twinkie.

The Twinkie Purrington bit out of (left) next to a new Twinkie. 'The biggest difference is that the cream filling has browned and constricted a bit, leaving air gaps,' he said

'Science is a collaborative game,' Purrington told NPR. 'If someone can take this and figure out what was actually growing, I'm all in. I really want to know what species exactly was eating my Twinkies.'

Purrington is no slouch in the science department, either: He got his PhD in evolutionary biology at Brown and taught at Swarthmore College for several years.

Kason and Lovett found spores on both the spotted and shriveled Twinkies, suggesting fungi was the culprit, rather than bacteria. 

The wrapping on the desiccated Twinkie was indeed sucked inward, suggesting a fungus had been sealed in during

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