Not to Worry, Twinkies WILL Survive the Closure of the Hostess Company

Will the closure of the Hostess (R) Company mean the end of America’s favorite snack cake? Image courtesy of Big Shot Toyworks. Copyright 2012.

Growing up as a kid whose family were always counting their pennies, I can honestly say that I never tasted what most consumers today would call a “real” dessert until I reached my twenties. My family simply couldn’t afford to buy goodies like chocolate brownies, chocolate cake, etc. Since my whole neighborhood was like that, it simply was the “norm” and neither me nor any of my friends and neighbors gave it a second thought.

However, there was one “oasis” of dessert delicacies that the whole neighborhood – adults as well as us kids – counted on for our dessert “fix:” the Hostess Day Old Bakery Outlet. There we could afford to feast on goodies such as Ding-Dongs, Zingers, Devil’s Food Cupcakes, Fruit Pies and my absolute favorite: Twinkies. I swear that I must have eaten so many of those creamy little sponge cakes growing up that if you’d stacked end to end what I’d  eaten from the ages 8- 18 I’m sure it would have circled the globe twice…and then some, lol.

Therefore, you can get some idea of my alarm at Friday’s news of Hostess (R)Brands – the maker of my favorite childhood snack – asking a federal bankruptcy court for permission to close its operations, blaming a strike by bakers who are protesting a new contract imposed on them.

The Hostess (R) company had given a  Thursday, 2 p.m. PST deadline for its bakers to return to work.  Otherwise they would face a shutdown of the company. The unions at Hostess could not be reached yesterday by The Los Angeles Beat for comment on their decision.

The closing will result in Hostess’ nearly 18,500 workers losing their jobs as the company shuts 33 bakeries and 565 distribution centers nationwide…including those 570 outlet stores that were a staple of my neighborhood. The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union represents around 5,000 Hostess employees.

Baking pans filled with fresh, steaming, “mini-loaves” of Twinkies straight from the Hostess ovens. Last year, Hostess produced 500 million Twinkies for domestic and overseas consumption. Photo courtesy of The Hostess  (R) Brands Company and Bloomberg News. Copyright 2012.

Prior to its announced shutdown, Hostess had annual sales of about $2.5 billion, and had been making approximately 500 million Twinkies annually. That’s a lot of creamy sponge cakes, folks.

Said Hostess CEO Gregory Rayburn: “We deeply regret the necessity of today’s decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike. The industry has overcapacity. We’re overcapacity. Our rivals are overcapacity.” Asked if the shutdown decision could be reversed if the Bakers’ union agreed to immediately return to work, he responded, “Too late.”

Hostess (R) Brands President and CEO Gregory Rayburn. Photo courtesy of Bloomberg Business Week. Copyright 2012.

However, before all of us Twinkie aficionados break out the black armbands and fall into a state of nationwide mourning, Hostess stated yesterday, in a letter sent to its network of stores carrying its product: “There will be great interest in our brands” although as of this writing it could not give a specific time frame for when the sales would take place and its products would be available again.

While awaiting approval from the bankruptcy court before the company can begin  liquidating its assets, Hostess stated to the press yesterday that production at all of its bakeries ceased effective as of November 16. Stores will no longer receive products from Hostess Brands (R) after the final round of deliveries of products that were made Thursday night. However, products that are already in stores can be sold, and its beloved community outlet stores will remain open for about a week to sell their remaining stock of Hostess products.

Twinkies: stock up NOW before they’re gone. Photo courtesy of Getty Images. Copyright 2012.

In January 2012, Hostess filed for bankruptcy; its second trip to bankruptcy court since 2004. Previously, it had emerged from restructuring in 2009 after a four and a half year process.

The good news within this looming gloom is that in the company’s move to sell off its assets to the highest bidder, it could well breathe new life into some of its most popular products (America’s favorite snack cake being at the forefront) which would then be grabbed up at auction and attached to products from other companies.

The “silver lining” in this storm cloud is the certainty that someone will buy up America’s favorite, indestructible snack. Rest assured that Twinkies are going to be around for a long time to come…and not just because their proven resistance to nuclear bombardment has made them the #1 dietary choice for a zombie apocalypse, lol.

True, Hostess Brands (R) has begun its process of liquidation. Sure, all of the bakers lost their jobs yesterday (since they weren’t willing to sign a deal with Hostess executives). Sadly, so did the delivery truck drivers (they were willing). And those last, precious batches of Hostess Brand snack cakes were sent out last Thursday, as those hard-working Hostess ovens were finally fired down.

But that doesn’t mean that Twinkies are gone forever, despite the sugar “scare tactics” of various news agencies and websites who shall remain unnamed. Twinkies are far too resilient for that stuff and nonsense. The fact remains that the Twinkies brand still has genuine, lasting value, and will be acquired eventually by a company that respects and recognizes that the sheer joy of indulging in empty calories will always reach out across ethnic, gender and age boundaries.

For the first time since World War II, Hostess (R) Twinkies featuring Banana Creme filling – the original filling flavor of the iconic snack cake – was a regular fixture in retail stores nationwide in 2007. Photo courtesy of The Interstate Bakeries Corporation. Copyright 2012.

All the hoopla over “healthy” lifestyles will never change that lasting, traditional value at the very heart of America itself. If the next generation’s Twinkies don’t happen to display the iconic “Hostess” brand stamped on them, no worries. In this age of uncertainties,  it’s a good bet that Twinkies will survive; in all probability snatched up by a rival bakery which hasn’t experienced the unfortunate recent dilemmas that plagued Hostess. HERE is my list of probable candidates to rescue America’s favorite snack cake…and possibly take it to even greater heights in the years ahead:

Invus: These guys performed a miracle when they acquired a “dead in the water” company called Keebler, turning it around and elevating it into a successful company that finally went public, before being acquired by Kellogg’s

Sun Capital Partners: Sun Capital is currently raising $3 billion for its new fund, so ready capital would not be an issue in acquiring Hostess. It’s also the country’s most active “turnaround” firm, as well as sporting a small packaged foods practice.

To reiterate, don’t lose any sleep over the fate of Twinkies. “America’s favorite snack food” as Hostess rightly dubbed them years ago, still sustains sufficient demand for the tasty sponge cakes that a whooping  five hundred million of them were cranked out of the Hostess ovens last year alone. That’s a lot of people who still agree with me: if you want to enjoy a treat that remains true to America’s real & true values then it’s hard to beat a fluffy, cream-filled, take – with –  you – anywhere snack like Twinkies… and it’s a fact they contain far less calories than do almost any other manufactured snack treat too! Somebody will buy the rights to them, trust me on this.


Shirley Pena

About Shirley Pena

A native of Southern California, Shirley Peña began her career as a music journalist almost twenty years ago, writing for her websites "Stars In My Eyes: the Girlhowdy Website" and "La Raza Rock!" and progressed to creating various fan sites on Yahoo, including the first for New Zealand singer/songwriter Tim Finn. From there, she became a free agent, arranging online interviews for Yahoo fan clubs with various music artists (Andy White, John Crawford, Debora Iyall, John Easdale, etc.). She also lent her support in creating and moderating a number of Yahoo fan clubs for various music artists from the 1990s-today. As a music journalist, Shirley Peña has contributed to a number of magazines (both hard copy and online), among them: Goldmine, American Songwriter, Classic Drummer Magazine and UK-based Keyboard Player (where she was a principal journalist). A self-confessed "fanatic" of 1960s "British Invasion" bands, Classic Rock and nostalgic "Old Hollywood ", she also keeps her finger on the pulse of current trends in music, with a keen eye for up and coming artists of special merit. Shirley Peña loves Los Angeles, and is thrilled to join the writing staff of The Los Angeles Beat!
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