Operation Mould: Researchers Discover Unknown Fungus Growing inside 8-Year-Old 'Mummified' Snack
Operation Mouldy Twinkie | Image credit: Twitter
Researchers prove Twinkies don’t last forever after man finds ‘mummified’ snack
A Pennsylvania man recently tried to eat Twinkies he had packed away eight years ago in the basement of his house, only to find out that they don’t last forever as many believe. The man, Colin Purrington, had bought a box of Twinkies in 2012, which he forgot to eat. One fine day during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, he had a craving for some snacks when he suddenly remembered about the Twinkies he had stored years ago. He went for it.
In a series of tweets, Purrington elaborated his unusual experience.
“I grew up thinking Twinkies would last for years, if not forever, I was wrong. The one I bit into was chewy, unsweet, and smelled like rotting ginkgo fruit. I gagged. I have nobody to blame but myself — the box clearly warned, ‘Best Used by Nov 26’ (2012),” wrote Purrington.
3. Although I grew up thinking Twinkies would last for years, if not forever, I was wrong. The one I bit into was chewy, unsweet, and smelled like rotting ginkgo fruit. I gagged. I have nobody to blame but myself — the box clearly warned, "Best Used by Nov 26th" (2012). pic.twitter.com/jhYM5yiEDS— colinpurrington (@colinpurrington) October 4, 2020
He shared several pictures of the ‘mummified’ snack, which caught the attention of mycologists Brian Lovett and Matt Kasson of West Virginia University in Morgantown. Calling it “Operation #MoldyTwinkie”, the researchers attempted to find out what had infected the treat.
The researchers found a common airborne mold that had sneaked inside the plastic wrapping at the time of packaging and was feasting on it all this while. One of the 'mummified' cakes took a drill to get through but interestingly, it still had the cream filling inside.
“The severely colonized cake was quite challenging to sample. Thanks to a bone marrow biopsy tool, we made quick work of it!” tweeted Kasson. “It seems that the fungus was more interested in the cake on the outside than the filling on the inside,” said Lovett.
The severely colonized cake was quite challenging to sample. Thanks to a bone marrow biopsy tool, we made quick work of it! pic.twitter.com/IYik3iWPvb— Matt Kasson (@kasson_wvu) October 8, 2020
Kasson and Lovett found spores on both the Twinkies, suggesting it was not bacteria, but fungi that infected the snack. According to them, the wrapping was sucked inward, “suggesting a fungus had been sealed in during packaging and used up all the air inside, creating a vacuum.” The researchers said they would be sequencing the fungus' genes to identify it conclusively.
A spokesperson of the company Hostess, which manufactures Twinkies, said that the snack has a shelf life of 65 days and that they are hardly immortal.