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The Great 'Twinkie War'

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A footrace scheduled for last Friday may--or may not--have been the final shot in the "Twinkie War" at Metamora (Ill.) High School.

When the school board eliminated so-called junk foods from the lunch program at the school this fall, more than half of the 500 cafeteria regulars launched a "brown-bag-it protest" to persuade administrators to restore Twinkies, Ho Ho's, and other such epicurean delights to the menu.

But rather than crumble in the face of an economic boycott, says Gregory A. Christi, the school's principal, administrators tried to impress upon protesters the benefits of good nutrition and physical fitness.

Before students could be swayed, however, their well-organized boycott of the $1.25-a-day school lunch caught the attention of a local radio station. The station not only asked listeners to weigh in on the controversy, but suggested to the St. Louis-based manufacturer of Twinkies that it provide its snack cakes free to the deprived students of Metamora High.

Not a company to miss such a baked-to-order public-relations opportunity, the Continental Baking Company agreed to send over a truckload of Twinkies, a bemused Mr. Christi notes.

But, says Mr. Christi, when a local apple grower stepped into the fray and offered to send over a truckload of fruit as an alternative to cupcakes, students came up with an idea they believe will demonstrate that a healthy diet supplemented with snack cakes, candy, and soda has no ill effects.

The students challenged Ken Maurer, the district's 43-year-old superintendent of schools, to a one-mile race, now being called the "Apple Cupcake Run." "We prefer not to think of the run as a competition," cautions Mr. Christi, "but rather as a cooperative effort to bring nutritional issues to the forefront. It's not the Twinkies against the Apple Heads."

In accepting the challenge, Mr. Maurer told students that he would not race, only "run with them." Mr. Christi, conceding that there are some very fast runners in his school, says that, because he was scheduled to "work crowd control" at the race, he would not be donning his running shoes.

But regardless of who wins the good-natured nutrition competition, Metamora will not go back to its old ways. The school is not in business to make money from the state-supported lunch program, says Mr. Christi, and has no intention of relenting in its pursuit of good health.--jw

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