The headlines have been shocking: is the Twinkie really going to disappear? A quick check of nearby stores confirms that at the moment, it's an endangered species. Hostess Brands is closed and production has been halted. No more Drake's cakes, Wonder Bread, Ding Dongs, or Twinkies until further notice.

What exactly makes that "Golden Sponge Cake with Creamy Filling" so irresistible? Author Steve Ettlinger wrote an in-depth study of the Twinkie after his daughter asked him, "Where does Polysorbate 60 come from, Daddy?" Ettlinger found that Twinkies are "the archetype of all processed foods" -- he traced each ingredient to its source, whether it was a corn field, mine, or heavily-guarded plant using dangerous chemicals. Then he followed the process of mixing, baking, and packaging that creates this modern day Proustian treat.

Ettlinger also addresses some of the urban myths around Twinkies in his book. What's the shelf life of a Twinkie? Which iconic television character had one in his lunch box every day? Why does this little snack cake have such a visceral hold on our cravings? Twinkie, Deconstructed tells the whole story. Now, if only you had a fresh Twinkie and cool glass of milk to wash it down...