Twinkies, a combine of cans and other stuff on my mind

13 Jan

The world record breaking John Deere Can Do sculpture. Photo from PRNewsFoto/John Deere.

Twinkies are shown in production at Hostess Brands. Photo from

I guess it’s partially our fault.

Hostess Brands, the maker of Wonder Bread, Twinkies, Fruit Pies, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos and Sno Balls, is seeking bankruptcy protection.

News accounts point to several problems the company has: Rising labor costs, increased competition and healthier eating habits.

We’re responsible for that third problem. Yes, we’re not consuming as many Hostess products as we used to.

Many of us are eating whole wheat bread these days instead of white bread, and we’re eating healthy snacks instead of, well, you know, those Hostess items that shout “Buy me. Eat me!” to us and nearly propel themselves into our carts when we pass by them in the store.

When I worked in the produce department at a supermarket in the mid 1970s, we had a store assistant manager named Al who loved his Twinkies.

Once in the morning and once in the afternoon he’d announce, “I’m going on a Twinkie break.” And he’d sit in the break room and dive into a package of that delectable delight.

These days I’m guessing the Als of the world have been replaced by people snacking on yogurt or fruit – not Twinkies.

I’m sure of two things about Al: He died a happy man, and he died with the smell of Twinkies on his breath.


My wife and I recently had great fun with some friends while participating in a trivia competition that benefitted the Buffalo Volunteer Fire Department.

If you ever need a reminder of how much you don’t know or how much don’t remember, I urge you to take part in a trivia game.

Or you can just ask your children.


Bravo for John Deere!

Moline-based Deere & Co., the world’s largest ag equipment maker and Iowa’s largest manufacturing employer, is now in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Last November, Deere’s Project Can Do created a full-sized combine made entirely from food at the John Deere Pavilion in Moline.

It took more than 308,000 cans of 15 different kinds of food and more than 11,000 bags of popcorn, peas and beans.

Guinness folks say that is by far the largest sculpture ever built from canned food, more than doubling the number of cans used in the previous record set two years ago.

Deere’s sculpture, appropriately dedicated to America’s farmers, was 60 feet wide, 80 feet long, 16 feet tall and weighed about 170 tons.

It took 450 volunteers more than 1,800 hours to build it.

The sculpture was dismantled in December, and the food was donated to River Bend Food Bank, which serves food pantries in the Quad-Cities and 22 counties in eastern Iowa and western Illinois.


They say if you don’t like the Iowa weather, you should stick around because it will change in five minutes.

The snowstorm and mid teens cold snap that arrived Jan. 12 were in sharp contrast to highs in the mid 50s and the still-green grass that we enjoyed just a day earlier.

On the plus side, though, volunteer firefighters will no longer be called out to the grass fires that had them scrambling earlier this month.

Copyright 2012 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. This piece submitted as a column to The North Scott Press.

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Posted by on January 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


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