Don't Believe the Legend: You Wouldn't Want to Eat a Month-Old Twinkie

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If you want food to last you, you'll have to look elsewhere.

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Yummmmm. (Wikimedia Commons)

With news today that Twinkies have hit the endangered species list, people are already stocking up on the cream-filled pastries, presumably to last them through the Twinkie apocalypse and beyond. Which, it must be said, is pretty silly, and not just because some hero out there is likely to rescue the Twinkie from this end, but because Twinkie's don't actually last all that long -- 25 days, according to the company. So buy all the Twinkies you want, just be prepared to eat them all before the year is out.

Many people mistakenly believe that Twinkies last forever and a day because they contain no dairy and a variety of preservatives and stabilizers. And while 25 days is not bad for a baked good, if you want food that lasts, you're going to have to look elsewhere.

Specifically, to Utah, where food-storage companies such as DailyBread, Emergency Essentials, Stormy Day Foods, and The Ready Store are all based. Food storage is an important Mormon practice, and not because of the apocalypse. Rather, the Mormon church encourages its members to keep at least a three-month to a year's supply of food and water (and more, if possible) as part of a general ethos of preparedness and self-reliance. Similarly, the Latter-Day Saints church advises Mormons to avoid debt and instead build up some savings for a future job loss or other tough patch.

The Utah-based companies tend to specialize in canned foods, dehydrated soup mixes, grains, freeze-dried produce, and containers that will not degrade. Most of the food-storage experts advise building up a pantry of goods that can last years, and then another supply of things with a shorter shelf-life (30 days) that can be rotated out on a regular basis. And that -- the weak, fragile stockpile -- that's where your Twinkies belong.

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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