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New junk food fad: Deep-fried Twinkies


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PUYALLUP, Washington (Reuters) -- Ever tasted a deep-fried Twinkie?

You can, if vendor Clint Mullen brings his high-calorie rendition of the notorious snack cake to a fairground near you.

First invented in a Brooklyn restaurant, the deep-fried Twinkie has become a runaway success for Mullen and his brother, Rocky Mullen, since they started selling it at country fairs in mid-August. "We sold 26,000 Twinkies in 18 days," said Rocky, who used to run a mechanical rodeo bull rental business. "People drove for hours just to taste our Twinkie."

Preparing the new snack is quite simple. After removing the Twinkies from their plastic wrappers, they are chilled so they don't disintegrate when heated. Next, they are rolled in flour, dipped in a tempura batter and fried at 380 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 to 120 seconds. The cooking process melts the vanilla-cream center, which infuses the yellow cake and gives it a souffle or pudding-like texture. Finally, the treats are sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with either chocolate or berry sauce. The snack costs $3.

FACTOID
1 Twinkie = 150 calories

Batter and oil = 275 calories

Total Damage = 425 calories, about the same as a slice of apple pie a la mode

Many people buying the new fried concoction at the Mullens' snack stand at the Puyallup Fair, 30 miles south of Seattle, swear the hot oil transforms the cream-filled cake into a better-tasting snack. "It's been years since I've had a Twinkie because they gross me out, but this is good. Real good," customer Sue Holz said.

But another customer wasn't sold on the concept. "It still has that unmistakable lard aftertaste," Mike Wald said.

Deep-fried candy bars

If deep-fried Twinkies don't interest you, the Mullen brothers also sell deep-fried Snickers, 3 Musketeers and Milky Way candy bars at their stand.

Originally, the Mullens only sold the deep-fried chocolate-covered candies, but added Twinkies after being approached by Hostess, the baking brand owned by Kansas City, Missouri-based Interstate Bakeries Corp. "We are very excited about it," said Mike Redd, vice president of cake marketing at Interstate Bakeries. "Twinkies are an American icon and they have a life of their own," Redd said, adding that the deep-fried Twinkie concept was being marketed to various state fairs.

Earlier this year, Hostess put Clint Mullen in touch with British chef Christopher Sell, who invented the deep-fried confection at his fish-and-chips restaurant in Brooklyn. After a few tips, the Mullens started selling the deep-fried Twinkies this summer. Soon, business was so brisk they had to call in nearly a dozen family members to help with the unwrapping and frying.

Rediscovering the Twinkie

The brothers said they sold about 10 deep-fried Twinkies for every deep-fried candy bar. Clint Mullen said he has considered getting additional stands and traveling to larger fairs around the United States. "People are rediscovering the Twinkie," said his brother Rocky, surrounded by stacks of white Hostess Twinkie boxes.

As customer Teena Nelson tried a chocolate-covered, deep-fried Twinkie, she said, "It's really good. ... We're not thinking about calories today."

So what is the calorie count for a deep-fried Twinkie? Rocky said he thought a calculation he saw on the Internet might be accurate: 150 calories for the Twinkie and 275 for the batter and oil. Total damage: 425 calories, about the same as a slice of apple pie a la mode.

Asked if there have been any concerns from health-conscious customers, he said, "People at fairs don't tend to eat food that's good for them."

The Twinkie was first developed by Jimmy Dewar, manager of a bakery near Chicago, in 1930. A billboard in St. Louis advertising "Twinkle Toe Shoes" sparked the product's name. Originally the cakes were filled with a creamy banana center, but during World War Two, a banana shortage forced Hostess to change to the vanilla cream still used today.



Copyright 2002 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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