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November 26, 2014

Twinkie’s Last Stand?

The last Twinkie rolled off the Hostess assembly line this past Friday after labor negotiations broke down, resulting in a work stoppage by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union which affected nearly two-thirds of Hostess’s factories across the country.

Hostess responded by closing up shop on three factories and giving the workers until Thursday to return to work. It didn’t happen. The company is blaming the union saying that they can’t afford to keep going. The union is blaming the company and poor financial and operational management, noting that there were some pretty sweet pay increases for upper management, but workers were asked to pick up the tab and make concessions.

“What’s happening with Hostess Brands is a microcosm of what’s wrong with America, as Bain-style Wall Street vultures make themselves rich by making America poor,” A.F.L.-C.I.O. President Richard Trumka said in a statement, referring to the Bain Capital, the private equity firm run by the recent presidential candidate Mitt Romney. “Crony capitalism and consistently poor management drove Hostess into the ground, but its workers are paying the price.”

There’s little doubt that someone will rush in to scoop up the intellectual property for the snack cake that is a preservative tour de force to make the ancient Egyptians blush.  So, Twinkie may ride again, but not in its current incarnation. So to the HoHo, the swirly-topped cupcake, the Zinger, the Fruit Pie, the Donette, the classic SnoBall, and whatever the hell this thing is:

And also, Wonder Bread.

Whether the demise of these foodstuffs is a bad thing, I leave to others to decide. I do remember my mother’s response, when I asked her if we could get Wonder Bread because all my friends at school ate it. She replied, “I don’t trust bread you can squeeze between your fingers and have it turn back into dough.” Apparently, it was a good enough answer for me at the time, although I never did really think through what it might mean to eat an untrustworthy bread. So, Pepperidge Farm  it remained.

I also asked about Twinkies at a later time, with little hope of a positive response. Her nose wrinkled. “I don’t even think they’re food,” was the flat response. So much for that.

Her suspicions would later be borne out by many who have put the snack logs under various types of physical stressors and recorded the results. Among the more notable findings – a Twinkie dropped from a 9-story window will bounce, and if left for four days on an outside window ledge in an area with a plentiful pigeon population, it will remain suspiciously untouched. Birds, apparently, don’t think they’re food either.

Those with fonder thoughts of the Twinkie may want to stock up knowing that they will remain viable longer than the natural human life span.

Entrepreneurs and speculators turned to eBay. A box of 10 Twinkies was being offered on the online auction site for a starting bid of $500. “What better way to say, ‘I love you’ than with the gift of an American icon that will be gone soon,” the seller said.

But before you part with your hard-earned lunch money to hoard indefinitely the preservative-ridden polysorbate 60-filled cakes, remember that the unions could still reach a deal with Hostess before liquidation happens.

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6 Responses to “Twinkie’s Last Stand?”
  1. I never did like anything made by Hostess and I don’t remember my mom buying much of it. But I am sorry for the workers, losing their jobs. Not so sorry for a company going under because of that horrid management model.

    Here in the Seattle area, a lot of kids go to Camp Fire’s Camp Sealth during the summer. They go on a boat (da boata) and the captain who works for Argosy made it known a long time ago that he loves Hostess Twinkies. Many of the campers show up on the first day with packages of Twinkies for Moose Lips (the captain). What he actually does with all those, I’ve no idea. But it’s all in good fun. Apparently he’ll have to find a new favorite treat. ;-)

  2. John says:

    They doubled or tripled top executive pay, and then blamed the bankruptcy on workers objecting to a pay cut.

  3. Zyxomma says:

    RIP, Hostess. That’s a lot of workers out of work. I saw some of them interviewed on local news today; they have no idea how they’re going to earn a living. I can’t say the same for management.

    I remember Twinkies being referred to as perfect food for the bomb shelter. That’s about the size of it.

  4. Alaska Pi says:

    So ” private equity backers loaded the company with debt” making it hard to do what you have to do to do business? What kind of saved- the- company horsepunky is that?
    I’m sorry that all these folks may lose their jobs, very sorry.
    Not sorry a business model which rewards the big cheeses, keeps asking for concessions from the everyday folks, and sells whatever it is these items are looks to be failing. Not at all.
    I had Wonder Bread once. Your mom was right , AKM.
    Bleah.
    I always wanted to try the “clean white” bread my classmates brought for lunch . My ma made lovely yummy bread of various sorts every Saturday and turned her nose up at bought-out bread.
    In 6th grade I finally talked a kid into swapping sandwiches so I could try the Wonder Bread.
    Yuck! Yuck! Yuck!
    I don’t know what I thought it might be like but your mom was right- touch it and it turns back into some kind of gooey dough. Yuck!

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