Fix Twinkies, Snickers, Big Macs at home

Published July 7, 1993|Updated Oct. 9, 2005

As a true-blue American given the chance to get in on just one top-secret secret, you would choose the recipe for the special sauce on a Big Mac, right? Or maybe for Snickers bars?

Sit back. Hog Heaven is here.

In Top Secret Recipes, Todd Wilbur speaks to the cravings of the masses who have made wealthy the makers of Big Macs, Snickers and 40 other yummies, including Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Kahlua Coffee Liqueur, Aunt Jemima Maple Syrup and Kentucky Fried Chicken Original Recipe Fried Chicken.

It takes work, of course, to make this food at home. But it took five long years for Wilbur to figure out recipes that imitate the taste and appearance of popular brand-name foods.

The hardest item to nail down for the 29-year-old Wilbur, who's not a professional but says he has been cooking since age 9, was the filling for his version of Hostess Twinkies. (He provides a detailed drawing for getting the cream into the cake.)

"I did a lot of the sleuthing for this by reading ingredient labels," Wilbur says, adding that on Twinkies the listing for natural and artificial flavors didn't leave him many clues.

"Obviously it had vanilla, but there was something else," which turned out to be lemon flavoring, he says.

To find the key to Wendy's chili, he bought some, dumped it in a sieve and rinsed off the sauce. The surprise ingredient was celery.

His biggest disappointment? He couldn't perfect Oreos. The white filling was satisfactory, he says, but the fudgy, slightly burnt taste of the cookies eluded him.

He considers his best recipe his Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are made, he says with all due immodesty, from "the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever put to paper."

He thought the base of Mrs. Fields Peanut Butter Dream Bars tasted like a cookie, so he called a store and asked. Sure enough, an employee told him, crumbled cookies.

Otherwise, he says, he contacted no companies, and none has contacted him.

"I did not swipe, heist, bribe or otherwise obtain any formulas through coercion or illegal means," he writes in his foreword.

In fact, he says, the companies should be flattered.