There is disturbing news coming out of the United States.
Is it more dire financial distress? Is another natural disaster going to clobber our neighbours? Did another general get caught with his pants down?
No, this news struck at the very heart of America and is dominating coffee-shop talk throughout the land: the Twinkie is in peril.
Say it isn't so.
For generations, the Twinkie has contributed to obesity, diabetes, zits and rotten teeth.
Hostess, which makes a variety of sugar-laden, empty-calorie goodies, is kaput. Rising labour costs, competition and the trend to healthier eating means the company is toast. I have some doubts about that last claim based on the girth of our Yankee cousins, but that's what the news story said.
The good news is Twinkies have a shelf life of 4,000 years, so those already made will be around for generations to come.
For a while, it looked like the Twinkie would go the way of the dodo, but the company that first turned on its ovens in the late 1800s will sell off some of its more popular brands, such Ho Hos and the Twinkie.
I must admit I contributed to the demise of the once-grand company. While I do have a sweet tooth, I've never been a fan of the Twinkie. As a child, I didn't have access to the cream-filled cake snack. You couldn't find them in Canada back then.
I finally had the chance to try one when my family went on one of its marathon vacations deep into the United States, but the thrill eluded me.
I was excited to sink my teeth into the legendary snack. But, after sampling it with eager anticipation, the highest I could rate the plastic-wrapped sugar bomb was meh, whatever.
The Twinkie may have been a bust, but those annual vacations did open my eyes to the wonders of foreign lands.
Many hours were spent in the back of the family station wagon, staring out the window and occasionally making obscene gestures to passing cars.
The U.S. looked a lot like Canada, until we stopped for gas or at a campground. That's when I had a chance to see just how different American candy was back in the 1970s.
There were plenty to choose from, and I did my best to sample the exotic bundles of sugar every chance I got. But as the family grew older, the road trips ended and my forays into U.S. Candyland were put on hold.
But a few years ago, we gathered the flock and headed to Disneyland. While the Magic Kingdom was all it promised, the candy situation was very disappointing: it was pretty much the same stuff we have up here.
Globalization had struck, and most of the American candy rack looked the same as at home.
Gone is another childhood memory that can never be relived - or re-eaten.
Darren Handschuh can be reached at
. For more of his ramblings, check out his blog at www.therudemonkey.blogspot.com.