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This Week in Illinois History provides a 90-second snapshot of an event significant to Illinois history. Join Host Clint Cargile as he covers big events while also exposing little-known pieces of Illinois history.

This Week In Illinois History: Birth Of The Twinkie (April 6, 1930)

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The Twinkie, America’s model junk food, got its start in Illinois. Twinkies were invented on April 6, 1930 at the Continental Baking Company in River Forest. Manager James Dewar noticed that the equipment used to make the company’s small, baked strawberry shortcakes sat idle when strawberries were out of season. He came up with the idea to inject the spongy yellow cakes with a fluffy, white cream filling, and the Twinkie was born.

Dewar also came up with the name, inspired by a billboard he once saw painted on the side of a barn advertising Twinkle Toe Shoes. The Continental Baking Company was eventually purchased by Hostess, which moved production up the road to its Schiller Park bakery and turned the Twinkie into a household name.

Twinkie popularity surged after World War II, especially with TV advertising and product placement on kids shows like Howdy Doody.

Twinkies are now so ingrained into society that former President Bill Clinton once put one in a time capsule to represent our way of life. In 2012, Hostess filed for bankruptcy and Twinkie production shut down. For the first time in 82 years, Americans were deprived of their favorite snack. But a private equity firm soon took over Hostess and Twinkie production resumed the following year.

A common myth is that Twinkies stay fresh for decades and can even survive a nuclear war. Although they don’t last forever, they do have a shelf life of about 45 days. Not that they stay on the shelf that long. Americans buy more than 500 million of these Illinois-born desserts every year.

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