Media Information


Did you know that. . .?

•Flour dust is explosive.

•The iron compound found in enriched flour is also used as a common weed killer.    

•Glucose, the form of sugar that adds bulk and sweetness to Twinkies’ crumb and filling, also adds glossiness to shoe leather and prolongs concrete setting.

•Homeland Security figures prominently in modern food production.

•Only a small percentage of the 750 million pounds of cornstarch that’s manufactured annually goes into food like Twinkies. Two-thirds is used to make paper, cardboard, and packaging “peanuts.”

•When cooked, cotton cellulose is transformed into an incredibly soft goo, perfect for lending a slippery sensation to the filling in snack cakes--and rocket fuel.

•Soda ash finds its way into much of what we eat, which is pretty alarming, considering that it is also the primary component of glass and soap.

•Phosphorus, one of the seven elements necessary for life, is also what puts the glow in tracer bullets and causes artillery shells to explode. 

Some angles and pegs:

Twinkie, Deconstructed touches on nutrition, food science, consumerism, eating, baking, home cooking, and even history and geology.

For sample interviews, check out the sites noted linked above here.

A few common questions and short answers (please feel free to quote directly):

Why did you tackle this subject?  What makes you qualified to write Twinkie, Deconstructed?

I’ve long been into food reference, starting with The Kitchenware Book (1992), which led me to understand some unusual foods.  When I wrote The Restaurant Lovers’ Companion in 1993, I looked into many odd ingredients of ethnic foods, and loved the research.  And having had to explain things like hops in Beer For Dummies, I was used to this kind of project.

Why focus on the Twinkie?

There are thousands of artificial ingredients, and I needed to find a way to make this work as a readable book, not a reference book.  I realized I should try to find one well-known product that had just the right number of ingredients for a book, with ingredients that represented the whole range of kinds of food additives.  I considered many products, but Twinkies really fill the bill.  The Twinkies ingredient list is actually my table of contents, but the text covers all kinds of artificial ingredients.

What are some of the basic themes that you uncovered in the course of your research?

Artificial ingredients, whether for Twinkies or any other popular, common, processed food, are often made with raw ingredients or sub ingredients that come from all over the world, notably China.  Most of these ingredients are made by enormous international companies that have no plans to reveal how they make our food. 

What are some of the most surprising things you learned?

That we eat lots of rocks.  And petroleum.  When I started, I was certain that most things, like sorbic acid or various vitamins, were extracted from plants.  Not so, not at all, it turns out.  Also, that a lot of toxic things like carbon monoxide and chlorine gas are used to make food, but they only help with reactions and don’t add any toxicity to the food product.

Are you pleased with the book?

I’m very happy with it, but I constantly struggled to limit the writing to the ingredients at hand.  There is so much interesting stuff out there on other ingredients, or on nutrition, that it was often hard to stop.  Also, I wanted to put more of my personal experience from the trips to the sites, but the book would have been quite unwieldy and extremely long if I had.  It is the ingredients that matter, not my trip.  I would have loved to stand in the ground where EVERY raw material comes from, but that would have been impossible. (At the very least, it would have entailed standing on a lot of middle eastern or Chinese oil wells.)  I’m very proud that I was able to identify the raw source of every artificial ingredient, including the sub-ingredients.  It all comes from somewhere in the ground, eventually. 

And I love the fact that the index has things like “diketene” and “ding dong” right next to each other.  In fact, the index, which is on this web site, is fun to read. No other book can make such a claim.

What is your favorite ingredient?

That’d have to be polysorbate 60.  Not only is its name totally chemical and unfamiliar, but my little daughter asked me what it was, and I did not have a clue. Not one.  Plus it was incredibly hard to find out how and where the stuff was made.

What was the most amazing thing you saw in your travels?

Hard to say.  There’s the water-like elemental phosphorus (used to make baking powder) bursting into flame as it was poured out of a ladle, and the mine where the ore for baking soda comes from (I went down 1600 feet under the Wyoming plains and then got in an old Jeep and DROVE for 30 minutes).  And I love visualizing the egg-breaking machine at a plant where they break 7,000,000 eggs a day.  None of these things say “little, soft, sweet snack cake” to you.

* * *

For media professionals:

In the course of publicizing his books (see About the Author), Steve Ettlinger has appeared on all the morning network TV shows and many regional and local TV and radio shows as well, while granting dozens of print interviews.  He is available for interviews, appearances, or lectures around the country.  Media exposure is noted below.  

TV appearances are here. Samples from the book are found on the page, “Contents and Index.”  Reviews are viewable either by links below or by clicking on REVIEWS.  Major features, including a full page in Newsweek, are here.  A high-resolution author photo similar to the one on this site is available upon request, via e-mail, to the publicist, Liz Keenan.

Reporters (including ABC Nightline) and food critics attended the March, 2007 hardcover launch party, which featured a “Twinkie Tasting Table” of Twinkies® and commercial Twinkie knock-offs as well as an organic, whole wheat, low-fat, low-calorie, vegan version by Fran Costigan and a “gourmet” version by the pastry chef of Gramercy Tavern. Of course, all were served with Champagne.  Some coverage can be found on a webcast and on You Tube.  150 people crowded into the mob scene.   

Steve has been asked to give his perspective on the extensive use of Chinese-made food additives in our food products, notably in the LA TIMES.  (Click here for article on site instead of link).  Twinkie, Deconstructed describes how some colors, flavors, and vitamins are made in China.  Interviews with Fox Business News and CBS Sunday Morning have focussed on the globalization of our food supply.

Steve is an occasional contributor to the Living section of The Huffington Post.  Some of his posts are here and here.   

For interviews or review copies, please contact Steve’s publicist directly:

Liz Keenan, Publicity Manager
Hudson Street Press                                                                    
(212) 366-2245                                            

For fans of best-selling investigative food books like Omnivore’s Dilemma and Fast Food Nation comes TWINKIE, DECONSTRUCTED: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated into What America Eats (Hudson Street Press; March 2007; 978-159463-018-7; $23.95) by Steve Ettlinger, a pop-science journey into the surprising ingredients found in dozens of common packaged foods, using the Twinkie label as a guide.

TV, Print, Radio, and Web Features


The TODAY Show (Jan. 12, 2012)

ABC NIGHTLINE (May 3, 2007 and multiple reruns).  Now on DVD!

(Story on the Nightline web site, too)

ABC World News Tonight Webcast

WNT related story (text on web)

Fox News Live (March 12, 2007)

Montel - The Montel Williams Show (May 4, 2007)

nationally syndicated

NBC “Your Total Health” (May 17 and 22, 2007) (March 19, 2007- launch party; vegan Twinkies) “How could you pass up a Twinkie, Deconstructed event?”

and  (Note:  this is a webcast).

CBS KPIX San Francisco (Sept. 20, 2007, 12:03a.m. listing) - Nationally syndicated. (See how modified by market for CBS New York, here)

Regional TV:

CBS-WBBM Chicago- see video (February 23, 2007) (feature, not interview)

Fox KTVU-TV Oakland/San Francisco (May 16, 2007)

PRINT (very incomplete) see “Reviews” page for more:

Los Angeles Times Op-Ed article by Steve Ettlinger (click here for page on site instead of link)

Publishers Weekly (Jan. 1, 2007)

“...a delightful romp through the food processing industry... cleverly reveals how Twinkie ingredients "are produced by or dependent on nearly every basic industry we know.” ”

Tufts Alumni Magazine (Winter 2007)

New York Post (Feb. 21, 2007) page 49

Discover (Mar.) (First Serial Rights) page 66

“To see what gives life (and shelf life) to today’s processed foods, writer Steve Ettlinger tackles a case study:  the bewildering ingredient list of a Twinkie.”

Tampa Bay Tribune (Feb. 24, 2007)

Newsweek Magazine (March 5, 2007; on sale 2/26)

“ will never read a label the same way again.”

5th most-viewed article on 3/2/07

The Denver Post (Feb. 24, 2007)

Every Day with Rachael Ray (March)

Esquire (April, 2007, page 56)

Time Out New York (March 1-7, 2007, page 28, and quote of the week, page 12)

Wall Street Journal (March 2, 2007, page W4)

New York Daily News (March 9, 2007)

Body & Soul Magazine (Martha Stewart) (March)


The Toronto Star

Washington Post Express


(Partial, limited list.  For a list of some of the dozens of radio interviews Steve has done, please see “Radio Shows” by clicking here.)

NPR - WNYC Leonard Lopate, “Food Fridays” (Feb. 12, 2016

NPR - WNYC Leonard Lopate, “Please Explain” (March 23, 2007)

archived at (click above to listen)

NPR - WNYC The Brian Lehrer Show, “Junk Food Confidential” (July 31, 2007)

archived at (click above to listen)

NPR - KCRW - “Good Food” (click to listen) (Feb. 28, 2007)

Santa Monica, Southern California and on the web/podcast/archived

NPR Radio KQED - “Tech Nation” (May, 2007) (click to listen)

NPR Radio WHYY - “A Chef’s Table” (July 21, 2007)

Philadelphia, nationally syndicated (click to listen; go to 45:14)

USA Radio Network – Daybreak USA  (March 6, 2007, 7:35AM)

Sirius Satellite Radio Out QMorning Show (March 6, 2007, 9:40AM)

Accent Radio Network -Right Balance (March 6, 2007, 11:06 AM)

Lifestyle Radio Network, with Frankie Boyer (March 6, 12:40PM)

Mitch Albom Show (March 6, 2007, 6:35PM)

WBIX-AM & Langer Net, with Frankie Boyer (March 6, 2007)

Martha Stewart Living Radio  - “The Body & Soul Hour” 

Sirius 112 (March 22, 2007)

Sally Jessy Raphael Radio (April 17, 2007)

nationally syndicated, webcast, archived

Lime Radio (Twice)

Fitnessgurunyc (click to listen -- a good one)

WEB (tiny sample--check Google daily for more):

NPR - The Salt

New York Times “Well” blog (July, 2007) (excellent interview)

ABC WORLD NEWS webcast (June 12, 2007)

USA Today blog (Feb. 27,2007) (Feb. 27, 2007) (March 15, 2007)  - Podcast (March 14, 2007)




Audio Rights sold to Listen and Live (CD’s); also online at

See the Twinkie Nexus!Twinkie_Nexus.html