In this delightful romp through the food processing industry, Ettlinger, who writes on consumer products (The Complete Illustrated Guide to Everything Sold in Hardware Stores
), says, "Believers of urban legends take note.... Twinkies are not just made of chemicals," nor will their ingredients allow them to last, "even exposed on a roof, for 25 years." But what exactly their ingredients are, and how they come from places like Minnesota and Madagascar to be made into what Ettlinger calls "the uber-iconic food product, the archetype of all processed foods," is the subject of his book. Each chapter looks at individual ingredients, in the same order as on a Twinkie package, so Ettlinger finds himself traveling to eastern Pennsylvania farms to study wheat, as well as to high-security plants that manufacture highly toxic chlorine used in minute amounts to make the bleached flour that is "the only kind that works in sugar-heavy" Twinkies or birthday and wedding cakes. His exploration of the manufacturing processes of cellulose gum ("perfect for lending viscosity to the filling in snack cakes—or rocket fuel"), for example, cleverly reveals how Twinkie ingredients "are produced by or dependent on nearly every basic industry we know."(Mar. 1)
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