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Publisher's Summary

Like most Americans, Steve Ettlinger eats processed foods. And, like most consumers, he often reads the ingredients label without a clue as to what most of it means. So when his young daughter asked, "Daddy, what's polysorbate 60?" he was at a loss and determined to find out.

In this fascinating exploration into the curious world of packaged foods, Twinkie, Deconstructed takes us from the phosphate mines in Idaho to the corn fields in Iowa, from gypsum mines in Oklahoma to oil fields in China, to demystify some of America's most common processed food ingredients: where they come from, how they are made, how they are used, and why.

Beginning at the source, we follow each Twinkie ingredient through the process of being crushed, baked, fermented, refined, and/or reacted into a totally unrecognizable goo or powder with a strange name - all for the sake of creating a simple snack cake. If you've ever wondered what you're eating when you consume foods containing mono- and diglycerides or calcium sulfate (the latter is a food-grade equivalent of plaster of paris), this book is for you.

(P)2006 Listen and Live Audio Inc.

Critic Reviews

"[A] delightful romp through the food processing industry." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting, but not hyped

When I saw that this book only got one star, I was hesitant. I thougt it might be one of those books that just went on and on about how bad twinkies are.
I went to Amazon and read the reviews there and found out that most people found the book not only interesting but not overly preachy about processed foods.
I liked the books format, the narration and the content. I work in agriculture with both organic and non-organic farmers and found the book to be a rather fun romp through the food chain. Like it or not, it's an accurate and truthful romp.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Now you know . . .

This interesting, well-written book provides answers to questions such as "Where does chlorine come from?", "What, exactly, is baking powder made of?", and "Why is it that the cakes I bake at home don't taste like Twinkies?" It has a clever structure--one short chapter for each ingredient listed on the Twinkie wrapper. I thought this book was fascinating, though at times overly detailed. It's true that the author does not seem to question, in fact at times he seems to support, the processed food industry. But at bottom, the book just explains what's in Twinkies without offering judgement one way or the other. It's not an overtly political book like "Fast Food Nation." If you eat convenience or packaged foods at all, even foods that are labeled "organic," you are probably eating many of the ingredients that are in Twinkies, and it is illuminating to find out exactly what they are and where they come from.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome and very well written

This book gives you a cooking and chemical lesson in a very fun way. I did not realize the many different items, nice way of putting it, that goes into our food. Also shows another vulnerability that we have with China, certain of the above mentioned items only come from China. Very informative but very interesting at the same time. Even Teen-Agers found it interesting.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

The title was the most interesting part!

Not quite sure what I was expecting; I was bored out of my mind. I could have just Googled the ingredients list and it would have been the same.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michelle
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 03-09-10

Great book

This book is fantastic. It was easy to understand and delivered what it promised. It tells you exactly what the mysterious ingredients are. Very very good.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • S
  • Houston, TX, USA
  • 08-03-07

Has all the ingredients but still missing ...

It took me a long time to finish this book, mainly because it was hard to follow. It has the potential to be a great book, because there is a lot of great detail about all of these ingredients; but as soon as he says one thing, he's off on something else, and I quickly forgot what ingredient it was he was talking about, or what it meant, or what the process, other ingredients, etc., were. IE- it was very confusing, and I don't think I got much out of it.
The book would have been 10 times better if he took some of the day's criticisms of GM foods and either applied them or argued against them using these ingredients as a starting point. In the end, it felt as if he just accepted everything told to him and didn't critically analyze very much. I kept wanting him to question what he was hearing, instead of just telling us. There were so many questions he raised, but very few answered. In the end, he basically says 'it's all natural,' so go eat an Twinkie. I was hoping for more insight into what we are actually eating- not just the scientific definitions.



  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Andy
  • Westport, CT, United States
  • 05-24-07

waste of time

This book reads like it was written by a lobbyist for the food ingredient industry. The author is clearly a fan of everything artificial.

0 of 8 people found this review helpful