In the Twinkie of an Eye

I have to admit that it caught me by surprise.  So as soon as I heard the stunning announcement that the bakery that has made Hostess Twinkies for the past eighty-two years has crumbled, I knew I had to taste that spongy little yellow cake with the creamy white filling at least one more time.  Apparently, however, I was not alone.  For after stopping at eleven different stores on a Friday night, including three groceries, five gas stations, and three pharmacies–yes, we have an exciting social life indeed– my quest for the quintessential snack food turned out to be a fruitless one.

To be sure, the young cashier at Kroger’s seemed surprised as well when I informed her that her snacking shelves were empty.  “But I’ve never even had a Twinkie,” she lamented, and like the friends of Job at first, I didn’t really know what to say.  Nor could I answer the question which one convenience store clerk posed when I stopped in at her place either:  “But what will they deep-fry at the Texas State Fair?”  After all, Big Tex is gone too, having been deep-fried himself in a fire this fall.

“No more little Ho Ho’s?” quite literally cried a man facing the empty shelf at Wal-Mart, and I had the sense he might have already been drowning his sorrows with more than just a glass of milk.  And the manager at the gas station seemed clearly suspicious, if not conspiratorial:  “I thought it was very strange when the truck didn’t come today,” he reported in almost hushed tones, and he wasn’t even talking about a fuel shipment.

Others were more stoic, of course.  “Little Debbie’s are better anyway,” the employee of another Wal-Mart tried to assure me.  “She makes them fresh,” she argued, and I had to admit that I’d never thought of Debbie as such a dedicated supplier. And at the Walgreen’s the clerk somewhat sheepishly confided that I’d missed buying the last pack by only about an hour or so, though she did confess that she was still holding back two packages for her boyfriend, prompting me to ask just how serious they really were.

It was a manager at HEB who gave me the real skinny on the serious snack cake shortage, however.  “People have been buying them up all day to sell them back on eBay,” she told me. And sure enough, when I got back home and checked my computer, there they were–just $99.99 for 15 fresh double packs.

All of which is enough to remind me that what most folks want the most is anything that they can’t easily have, even if it’s not all that good for them.  For filled with preservatives and fructose, and with 150 calories in a single four-inch cake, you have to walk 42 minutes just to counter the effects of one moment of weakness and unrestrained indulgence.  And don’t even get me started on the Ding Dongs or Suzy Qs.

But then, isn’t that the way sin works as well?  For even when we know that something isn’t healthy, the allure of the forbidden fruit is still an incredibly powerful one. Genesis 3.6 reminds us, for instance, that it was when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree from which God had told her not to eat was good for food and pleasing to the eye, as well as desirable for gaining wisdom, that she took some and consumed it anyway. And that should come as no surprise to any of us.  For if sin wasn’t so darn attractive who in their right mind would ever fall for it in the first place?

There is an antidote, however, and it’s simply learning how to thank the Lord for what we do have rather than obsess over what we don’t.  What’s more, Thanksgiving would seem to be a great time to remember that.  For even without a Twinkies fix, if you have enough to eat this holiday you are among the blessed. Likewise, if you have a job, you have something which the 18,000 now former employees of Hostess Bakeries will not have as we enter this special season.  And if you have a family or friends to share a meal with on Thanksgiving, then you have been given one of the greatest gifts of all.

With the end of Twinkies, we may indeed have gone over the “fructose cliff” in our country.  Fortunately, there’s no shortage of God’s grace, however, and if we are willing to trust in Him, we’ve been assured that He will provide for all of our genuine needs even before we know enough to ask Him.

The Rolling Stones were right:  you can’t always get what you want.  On the other hand, maybe it’s really about being grateful for what we’ve received, realizing that it all has come from the hand of God.  “Give thanks in all things,” said St. Paul long ago, “for this is the will of God concerning you.”

All things.  Maybe even those Little Debbie posers.

Every grace,

Chappell Temple

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