Mystery Fungus Found on 8-Year-Old Twinkies Baffle Scientists

The man who found the forbidden Twinkies even took a bite out of them.
Utku Kucukduner

In 2012 Colin Purrington, an ex biology professor, went out for groceries and a few too many Twinkies. This was in part due to Hostess Brands filing bankruptcy at the time and partly because Colin, like many, had heard that urban legend claiming Twinkies are forever — that is, they never spoil

Mystery Fungus Found on 8-Year-Old Twinkies Baffle Scientists
Just a quick note: Twinkies have a shelf life of 45 days. Source: @collinpurrington/Twitter 

So one day, Collin remembered he had these stashed Twinkies in his basement. On a whim, he went there to get them out of their sarcophagus. 

As any person would do, Colin decided to take a bite out of one. He describes his experience with the words: "The one I bit into was chewy, unsweet, and smelled like rotting ginkgo fruit. I gagged. I have nobody to blame but myself — the box clearly warned, "Best Used by Nov 26th" (2012)."


So yeah, this was an unfavorable move probably, but any microorganism that laid below there would be dead after they have exhausted the resources this creamy cake offered. But in all seriousness, you shouldn't eat such things as byproducts from microorganisms' digestion process can contain toxic substances. That's exactly the reason why we can't hypercook rotten meat and call it a day. The 'poop' from microorganisms would simply make us sick.

Enter Matt Kasson, a plant pathologist and mycologist who tested what kind of fungi grows on marshmallow last year. He reached out to Collin immediately. 

Once they got in contact, Collin mailed Matt a few Twinkies. Kasson and his team got to work. Getting an intact and viable sample was hard, so they utilized a bone-marrow biopsy method. This way, they got themselves some neat cross-sections of the forbidden Twinkie. Then they put it on a petri dish to culture it and determine once and for all, what organism has invaded these innocent Twinkies.

Thus far, they have determined that one of them was colonized by something from cladosporium genus. This genus of fungi are a common kitchen mold in households. Unfortunately, the wrinkly "mummified" Twinkie yielded no answers as it had dried up all and nutrition (it was roughly 1 oz, or 28 gr lighter than the other ones) it could find a long time ago and died.

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