The email from the Hostess PR flack included something called "Twinkling Turkey," a recipe from The Twinkies Cookbook of 2006. The ingredient list included six Twinkies that would become stuffing for one 14- to 18-pound turkey—completely disgusting-sounding, yes, and yet presented as something that otherwise sane snack-cake lovers might actually decide to make the centerpiece of their holiday tables.
Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised. Thanksgiving, after all, is the day when lots of people find it perfectly acceptable to dump a can of Campbell's mushroom soup over green beans, or bring Jell-O salads in unnatural colors and Coke-basted ham to the table.
I wanted to see if Hostess was serious about the Twinkling Turkey. So I spent last Sunday in my kitchen, cutting Twinkies in half, scooping out the crème filling, and cubing and toasting the, uh, "shortcake." I mixed those cubes with crumbled corn muffins and a chopped apple, stuffed it all into a turkey, and roasted at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
"Dear God, what is that smell?" my husband remarked as the odor wafted from the kitchen.
"What does it smell like?" I asked.
He wrinkled his nose. "Cake. Bad cake. And meat."
Indeed—the house smelled exactly how you would imagine a house with Twinkie-stuffed poultry in the oven would smell: like a turkey being roasted in a cupcake-scented Yankee Candle.
When the turkey was almost done, I mixed the reserved Twinkie crème with a quarter cup of honey, and used it to glaze the hot bird before popping it back in the oven for another 12 minutes. Suddenly, the smell coming out of the oven changed.
"Motor oil!" yelped my husband. "Will you open a window?"
When the turkey emerged, with its crisp, gold skin streaming rivulets of thick white goo that melded with the turkey juices in the roasting pan (ruining any chance I had of making decent gravy), things didn't look good. I lifted a forkful of stuffing to my lips. Oh, dear God: cake doused with poultry grease. I quickly took a bite of turkey to try to erase the taste. Turkey, not too dry, normal flavor. And vanilla—sweet, sweet vanilla—mixing with the taste of roasted bird, the vilest thing I've eaten in a long time.
I will say this about Twinkling Turkey: Once you pull off the crème-contaminated skin and scrape out the stuffing (hurling both into the deepest part of hell, a.k.a. the trash bin), the turkey underneath isn't bad. Without gravy, a little dry though.