No More Twinkies? Hostess Shutting Down

Company to close its doors, citing worker strike.

Will there be a run on Twinkies and Ding Dongs today?

Some of America's guiltiest pleasures  could soon disappear from the grocery store shelves, after their parent company, Hostess Brands, announced it plans to go out of business, citing a labor union worker strike on top of a first bankruptcy earlier this year.

Wonder Bread Hostess has bakeries and retail outlets all over the country, including several in Virginia. The closest one to Northern Virginia is in Fredericksburg. The company employs close to 19,000 people and cites high labor costs as well as rising costs for flour and sugar, key ingredients for its baked goods.

"Many people have worked incredibly long and hard to keep this from happening, but now Hostess Brands has no other alternative than to begin the process of winding down and preparing for the sale of our iconic brands," CEO Gregory F. Rayburn said in a letter to employees that was released to the media.

The iconic Twinkie is marketed by Hostess as a "golden sponge cake with creamy filling."

The Twinkie got its start in the 1930s when James A. Dewar, a baker at the Continental Baking Company, dreamed it up as a replacement to a strawberry-filled shortcake the bakery was making, according to Food History. After strawberry season, they went with a banana-flavored creme and after a banana shortage during World War II, they went with the now-famous vanilla creme.

The name for the treat reportedly came to Dewar when he saw an ad for the Twinkle Toe Shoe Company and shortened the name to Twinkie. The Twinkie reportedly has 150 calories in one cake.

The company also makes the popular Ding Dong, Chocolate Cup Cake (with a creme filling and icing), Sno Balls and other sugary products. 

It's likely Hostess could sell its top brands to another company, according to business reports.

But if the iconic snack should be no more... Tell us: 

Will you miss the Twinkie? The Ding Dong? What are your Twinkie memories? Are the snacks worth saving? Do you plan to stock up?

See also:

Bill Sweet November 16, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Looks like the Union stuck it to themselves, putting 19,000 people out of work. Lets hear it for the power of the "STRIKE"
Isaac Cohen November 16, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Let's not get too simplistic! Hostess had management problems, AND I cannot imagine how a snack food with NO nutritional value lasted as long as it did. I haven't eaten one since Archie Bunker was on TV. Twinkies etc have been overwhelmed by other more tasty, yet nutritionally empty and heavily advertised, "snacks"
Jean Westcott November 16, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Mary Ann I was at Wegman's this morning and they were completely sold out. Already selling for more than 3x SRP online!
Bill Sweet November 16, 2012 at 07:21 PM
..... and they could still be in business....many of the other unions agreed to the contract changes, management was taking the same cuts....Bakers Union chose to strike and brought down the house. 19,000 lost jobs. True on the competition. Dumbest move I have ever seen. Or maybe I should just say greed got it's day in court.
Mary Ann Barton (Editor) November 16, 2012 at 08:54 PM
I'm wondering if the company will sell the "recipes" for the most popular items, the packaging, names, etc. to another baking company. Will be interesting to see what happens. Bad day for the people who are losing their jobs.
joe November 16, 2012 at 09:59 PM
The Union has won, workers and a great old company loses! We are becoming a country of blind, non comprising, power gratifying dopes!
Rachel Carter November 16, 2012 at 10:12 PM
The New York Times posted a recipe for twinkies today. I found it on Twitter. Does anyone know if the new requirements from health care reform figured into this decision? I will not miss these snacks. I never liked them. Prefer homemade...
Mary Ann Barton (Editor) November 16, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Will anyone own up to eating a Twinkie? I confess I have but not recently.
Mary Stachyra Lopez November 16, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Eating a Twinkie? Heck, I went out looking for them today. :) Unfortunately, all my local Giant had in stock were the chocolate creme kind, but that didn't look too appetizing. I did manage to nab the second-to-last box of Ho Hos, though, and a box of Cupcakes to stash away!
Sharon Compton November 17, 2012 at 12:13 PM
I haven't eaten a Twinkie for a couple of years, but I do love the Snowballs. I think it's sad that Hostess is going out of business.
Amanda M. Socci, Freelance Writer November 17, 2012 at 12:52 PM
I don't care for most of the Hostess foods, except for ho hos and ding dongs. I'm truly very sorry for the bankruptcy proceedings and financial messes Hostess is going through. Hopefully, 2013 will see the resurgence of Hostess snack foods in another company who buys it. Perhaps McKee Foods of Little Debbie fame would be interested in purchasing Hostess brands...
Karen Moore November 17, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Isaac, you're spot on. Let's not get too simplistic. Until you've been in the room with the negotiations, none of us know who wouldn't budge an inch. In my past life I've been on the receiving end of being told I got a 20 % pay decrease over a period of several years and then had to watch as the "golden parachutes" were being handed out to the CEO's who just couldn't turn the company around because of their poor decisions. There are benefits and disadvantages to being a union employee, but at least some of the unions try to help their employees keep a living wage. Notice I said "a living wage". Probably none of those Hostess employees have off shore bank accounts. They just want to provide for their families like everyone else.
James November 17, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Neither the Zombie Apocalypse nor a nuclear holocaust could destroy a Twinkie, but this Obama economy and union thugs could! More unemployed people dependent upon the government and the war on capitalism continues! Good job liberals!
T Ailshire November 17, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Never liked Twinkies, but the Ding Dongs .... that's another story. Mostly, i'll wonder - without Wonder Bread, how will our grandchildren build strong bodies twelve ways?
Dan November 17, 2012 at 02:47 PM
This sounds too much like a Bain Capital deal. Something smells at Hostess!
Bill Sweet November 17, 2012 at 02:49 PM
To Karen Moore: Let’s not over think this. There are no “Golden Parachutes” here that I’m aware of. The owners are out just like the employees. What was the name of the company you are referring to? The economics were just not there. Over capacity in the industry, more competition, higher commodity costs, the need for consolidation, just to name a few. Let’s see if a buyer steps up. There is value in the brands names and products. I’d say “yes” to Rachel Carter’s question: “Does anyone know if the new requirements from health care reform figured into this decision?” But how much, we don’t know.
Wildermann November 17, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Hostess actually made a very good fruit cake that was always available around the holidays. The other products endured as I grew up but in the more food health/nutrition conscious society of today they were doomed by not changing or reinventing product lines that had became known as the epitome of preservative laden foods with little or no nutritional value. All the union bashers on this thread might want to attack the teachers union for having succeeded in health education programs that taught students critical thinking skills to help analyze the nutritional values of the food products they consumed. The impact of an informed and critically thinking public on the market place is not a war on capitalism but rather a force for competition to create better consumer goods that don't contribute to the health epidemic related to the consumption of unhealthy foods. When it comes to the anti-union orthodoxy of what remains of the party of Lincoln — who famously declared that labor is always superior to capital — there is no forgiveness for past sins. Today anti-labor extremists are opposed to free trade unions to extremes not seen since Southern segregationists sought to bar unions because of their fear that white workers and people of color were being organized into labor organizations that would threaten Jim Crow. The economic fundamentalism of the new Republican Party is every bit as absolute as its religious fundamentalism. And every bit as unsettling.
Mary Ann Barton (Editor) November 17, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I don't think they had a problem selling Twinkies — even people knowledgable about nutrition will go out and buy something and eat it when they know they shouldn't; I think some are arguing that there's a wage imbalance in this country between inflated salaries for management and workers who can't get by. The worker bees will presumably be out of jobs in this situation. What about management who signed off on letting the union deal fall through? Are they worried about their jobs? Couldn't they have "re-cut" the company budget/salary pie so to speak? Pun somewhat intended.
Wildermann November 17, 2012 at 04:01 PM
"Rising employee healthcare and pension costs were among various issues that forced the company to file for their first bankruptcy protection in 2004." Maybe if the country had passed national health care legislation during the Clinton Administration the rising employee healthcare costs may have been averted. "The major reason for the company’s inability to sustain its revenue was a shift in consumer’s preference towards low-carb, diet, and premium breads. At that time, Interstate’s product portfolio had not shifted to include these products. Therefore, it was unable to maintain its sales, losing the market to its competitors. Apart from these difficulties, the company also faced some operational issues, including excess industry capacity and rising raw materials costs." Read about it at http://www.privco.com/private-company/hostess-brands-inc#Narrative While as a child, I occasionally found a Hostess product included in my school lunch bag, such products did not go into the school lunch bags of my own children. Better and healthier choices were available and the obvious health conscious consumerism brainwashing I received from my unionized teachers was the linchpin in the demise of a company unwilling to pay attention to market forces and consumer trends.
Mary Ann Barton (Editor) November 17, 2012 at 04:25 PM
I'm curious about CEO compensation. The CEO who used to run Hostess before the current one came in, in the spring, was making $2.5 million a year. CEO pay is apparently up twice the rate of inflation, according to a recent report by ABC News.
Bill Sweet November 17, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Martin Tillett: Thanks for the counter points. I don’t think that this is really the forum for our debate. The Union corruption and dark history is well known. The real issues are the “Union work rules” that slow progress. The driver can deliver the box to the front door but is not allowed to bring it inside. Teachers join the Teacher’s Union when told to because if she were ever sued the Union would defend her. Now pays union dues and really for what? Then there are the “seniority “rules. Unions blocking Boeing from opening a plant in the South. (Right to Work State). The worst transgression is the present administration trumping the rule of law in the Auto industry bankruptcy process. Trashing the bond holders and shoring up the UAW Cadillac style retirement benefits. ($10 billion dollars ?). America is in a global world. We need drastic changes to compete. America’s success is based on innovation, taking risks, education, well trained and educated labor from the shop floor through management. I’m done. Thank you for your reply.
Wildermann November 17, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Corruption and dark history is not exclusive to unions. The corruption and dark history of the Gilded Age industrialists led to the call for labor reforms. There are many legitimate criticisms of how unions have changed but they are and remain vital to the future of the middle class in our society. Are you suggesting that Cadillac style retirement benefits should be exclusive to the executive classes? The current model for disenfranchising workers of hard fought for gains on health care and pensions via unions ought to be asking for sacrifices from the executive class as well. I wholeheartedly agree that "drastic changes to compete" are needed. These changes should be a shared sacrifice and not exclusive to the workers alone. Taking away bargaining rights places workers at the mercy of the executive class. We need a hybrid form of unions that safeguards the safety and future of labor that works with management for the purpose of finding mutually beneficial common interests. Executives and management have always earned more than labor however the ratio of earnings over the past 40 years are such that compensation and benefits are completely skewed in the interest of one group over the other. Hostess was taken down the road leading to bankruptcy by their management/executive class long before the workers unionized. Poor people trying to hang onto fair wages and a few benefits are not the reason for the failure of Hostess. The electorate said as much last week.
Scooby's Doo November 18, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Hostess products were sickening sweet with an unpleasant oily, chemically flavored aftertaste. Wonder Bread is an abomination. So many better choices. Sorry that people are losing their jobs, but as for the company, good riddance.
Mary Ann Barton (Editor) November 18, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Maybe someone can buy the bakeries and change the ingredients to something healthier. Twinkies are all over eBay today; if you plug in "Twinkie" you'll get more than 3,000 results. One price tag was $3,000.
T Ailshire November 18, 2012 at 10:38 PM
How many other companies do you wish would shutter just because you don't approve of the product?
Joe Bagadonuts November 19, 2012 at 12:21 PM
"Hostess came under fire this spring after it was revealed that nearly a dozen executives received pay hikes of up to 80 percent last year even as the company was struggling." "The Hostess CEO who demanded some of the deepest cuts from workers engineered a 300 percent increase in his compensation package." The workers were not asking for increases. They had previously conceded away their pensions and taken large cuts in salary. The company is saddled with a $1B debt and has been in / out of two bankruptcies over the past decade. They're currently being run by Ripplewood Holdings, a vulture capitalist who has run the company into the ground, while at the same time lining their pockets. They are a profoundly messed up company and they don't deserve to stay in business. The workers are not the cause. Management is controlling the PR spin, and from reading this comments section it looks like low-knowledge media consumers are buying off on the spin that the union strike was *the single cause* of Hostess's failure. It looks to me like the strike was the final straw. Hint: don't just make stuff up, use Google and operate from at least a minimal base of knowledge.
Mary Ann Barton (Editor) November 19, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Here's the article that Joe is talking about: http://www.thenation.com/blog/171331/vulture-capitalism-ate-your-twinkies#
Joe Bagadonuts November 19, 2012 at 08:09 PM
@Mary Ann Barton - this one is more in depth: http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2012/07/26/hostess-twinkies-bankrupt/ Summary: "But in truth there are no black hats or white knights in this tale. It's about shades of gray, where obstinacy, miscalculation, and lousy luck connived to create corporate catastrophe. Almost none of the parties involved would speak on the record. Still, it's clear from court documents and background interviews with a range of sources that practically nobody involved can shoot straight: The Teamsters remain stuck in a time warp, unwilling to sufficiently adapt in a competitive marketplace. The PE firm failed to turn Hostess around after taking it over. The hedgies can't see beyond their internal rates of return. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera."
Joe Bagadonuts November 19, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Legal weed in CO and WA *and* Hostess going out of business? Think of the lost munchie marketshare. Talk about lousy corporate timing.
Stella McEnearny December 10, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Late to the party as always :::sigh::: but for the culinarily adventurous, here's a homemade knock-off version: http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/make-homemade-twinkies-recipe.htm I have a feeling that filling would meet with the Crisco Kid's approval :)


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