Twinkie Torment

It makes me sad to learn that Hostess Brands, the maker of the Twinkie, is preparing to file for bankruptcy.

I’m sure the Twinkie will survive a bankruptcy.  As we all know, Twinkies will last forever and are the foodstuff most likely to survive a nuclear holocaust.  Still, it is disturbing that the company that makes one of the most classic American foods ever — a true staple of the school day sack lunch, and even mentioned in Ghostbusters — is being squeezed by sugar, flour, and labor costs.

On this sad day, I offer my poetic tribute to the cream-filled sponge cake marvel:

O Twinkie!  My Twinkie!

O Twinkie!  My Twinkie!  The noon hour now draws nigh

My morning classes will be done, to you my thoughts do fly

The bell will ring, the rush will start, and we will race to lunch

The crinkled paper bag will ope, on PBJ I’ll munch

But O!  Dessert!  Dessert!

My hungry heart doth beat

For in my sack I soon shall find

A cream-filled sponge cake treat.

O Twinkie!  My Twinkie!  Your sponge cake damp and gold

And filled with tasty frosting, sweet and white and bold

The wrapper tears, my eyes grow wide, the sticky mass I grasp

And clutch to waiting bosom like Cleo and the asp

And so to eat!  To eat!  To eat!

With glass of milk, ice cold

Then lick till clean the bottom square

Of its crumbs, wet and gold.

O Twinkie!  My Twinkie!  My lustrous sack lunch friend

The sight of you gives rise to thoughts of lunch’s happy end

Your taste I crave, and I desire to see you on my plate

I do not mind if you are made of calcium sulfate

Fear not, my friend!  Fear not!  Fear not!

We’ll eat you still with pride

Come Polysorbate 60, hell,

or grim diglyceride!

Chickens, Eggs, And Downtown Grocery Stores

A local grocery store, Hills Market, has announced that it will open a store in downtown Columbus.  The store is to open this spring in a 12,000 square foot facility at 95 North Grant Avenue, right next to the Columbus College of Art and Design and the residential development along Gay Street.

This is great news for those of us who are interested in seeing more people living in downtown Columbus.  Having amenities like grocery stores, dry cleaners, wine shops, and other basic necessities of modern life within walking distance is a crucial part of urban living.  It just doesn’t make sense to move downtown if you need to hop into your car and drive to a suburb to buy food.

For a long time, there was a chicken-and-egg element to the issue of a downtown grocery store.  Which comes first:  the store, or the residents who will use it?  Now we don’t need to worry about that question any more.  Hills Market also is a perfect store for a downtown location because it offers organic options and specialty foods and therefore might attract downtown office workers who want to pick up something interesting for dinner before they head home.

I’m betting the Hills Market move causes more businesses to look seriously at the downtown market and lead more people to think about moving there, too.

Cushy Retirement ?

Back in 1979 fifty percent of American workers retired with a pension, but recent data show that currently less than twenty percent of American workers retire with a pension. So you are retired and you are one of the few lucky Americans to have a company pension that you expect to be paid to you monthly for the rest of your life, right – not so fast !

Retirement Heist by Ellen Schultz discusses how a little over a decade ago most companies had more than enough money set aside to pay for pensions and retiree health coverage, but in recent years employers have cut pensions while exaggerating their retiree burdens and lobbying the government for handouts.

Ms Schultz tells story after story about how companies siphon money from their pension plans to finance downsizing, hide their growing executive pension liabilities and purchase life insurance on workers without their knowing it then collecting tax free death benefits when retirees die.

I really enjoyed this book, it was a quick read, but boy did it piss me off. There is something fundamentally wrong with big corporations taking advantage of their retirees who worked long and hard for the company. It doesn’t surprise me that when people ponder whether or not the country is headed in the wrong direction most answer yes it is. This is a good example of why.

That Pesky Inner Jonny Quest

Hey, ladies!  Do you ever wonder why . . . well, why men seem so stupid?  Why men seem to crave taking dumb risks?  Why men go sky-diving, and bungee jumping, and engage in X Games sports when they could be curled up in cozy pajamas, drinking warm cocoa with marshmallows in it and having long deeply meaningful conversations with you about their innermost feelings?

Get serious, ladies!  The real answer is — they’re men!

But there is a deeper answer.  Any guy who grew up in America probably has been forever influenced by Jonny QuestJonny Quest was a ’60s cartoon, shown in reruns forever, that featured the teenaged hero, his mystical, turban-topped friend Hadji, his father Dr. Benton Quest, Race Bannon, a combination bodyguard and tutor, and the irritating dog Bandit.  Every week they had amazing adventures and barely avoided certain death.  They rode in hovercrafts.  They made it into sleek planes just before spears thrown by Zulu warriors clinked harmlessly against closed hatches.  They escaped pterodactyls and swamp creatures.  The YouTube video below of the show’s opening and closing gives you a sense of what the show was like.

The red-blooded American boys who watched that show thought:  boy, that is so cool!  And a lust for adventure, impossible to resist, was implanted deep in our simple male souls.

Every middle-aged guy will face a point where they will decide whether to do something risky that they’ve never done before, and they will feel that inner Jonny Quest saying:  do it!  I had my moment years ago when some experienced snowmobilers invited me to join them.  It was about 15 below zero in western Wyoming and I’d never been snowmobiling before — but I said “sure!”  An hour later I was struggling to keep up with them as they zipped along at about 50 mph across the frozen landscape, the snow they kicked up icing over my face shield.  When we passed over a bridge and I saw that another novice snowmobiler had somehow driven off the bridge and was in the creek below, apparently injured, I thought:  “What the hell am I doing here?”  I was grateful when I made it back safely, and I haven’t been snowmobiling since.

We’d all be better off if Jonny had taken a spear to the shoulder now and then.