Last of the Twinkies: Hostess files for bankruptcy (Updated)
posted at 10:51 am on January 11, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
UPDATE (1/11/12, 1:57 ET): The good news for those who read the article that follows and lamented the disappearance forever of Hostess Twinkies is that my report of the snack cake’s demise was greatly exaggerated. A spokesman for Sitrick and Company, which represents Hostess Brands, Inc., has informed me that
[d]uring the Chapter 11 proceeding, the Company will continue operating its bakeries, outlet stores and distribution centers and delivering its products to its customers across the country. The Company does not anticipate any disruptions in the manufacturing and delivery of any of its bread or cake products. The Company’s brands, including Wonder®, Merita® and Butternut® breads; Drake’s®, Twinkies® and Hostess® cakes, will still be available and on store shelves everywhere.
My apologies to all parties for my error.
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They are an American icon, much like the Oldsmobile. And, like the Oldsmobile, which was phased out in 2004, the Hostess Twinkie is about to become extinct.
Hostess Brands, Inc., the maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread, has announced that it will permanently hang up its oven mitts as early as this week. The baker, which has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time, joins the ranks of 60 other companies that have followed suit in the last four years, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Since its initial filing in 2004, Hostess has struggled to stay in the black, but its ingredients and labor costs have risen while its sales have declined. The Journal reports that Hostess Brands sold 36 million packages of Twinkies last year, a 2% drop from the previous year. The falloff is attributed to the migration of consumers away from “empty-calorie” snacks and toward more healthful eating.
The Twinkie traces its origins to Schiller Park, Illinois, where it was invented in 1930 by James Alexander Dewar. A baker for the Continental Baking Company, Dewar dreamed up the cream-filled sponge cake snack after noticing that machines used to make strawberry shortcake sat idle when strawberries were out of season.
Originally Twinkies were filled with banana-flavored cream. The company switched over to vanilla during World War II, when bananas were rationed.
Twinkies remained a favorite school lunchbox and afterschool snack through the turn of twenty-first century. In recent years, the food police got on the snack cake’s case over its listed ingredients, which includes high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oil, beef fat, and an assortment of artificial dyes and flavors.
Twinkies made headlines in 1979, in the trial of Dan White for the murders of San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk and mayor George Moscone. White’s defense—that he was depressed after changing his diet from health food to Twinkies and similar sugary foods—became known as the the “Twinkie defense.”
The Twinkie was in the news again in 2010 when a nutrition professor at Kansas State University lost 27 pounds while on a diet of Twinkies and little else.
Meanwhile, the demise of Hostess Brands is good news and bad news if your name is Obama. If your first name is Michelle, the disappearance of the snack food is another notch on your weapon in the war to change the way Americans eat. If your name is Barack, the closing of the Irving, Texas, plant and the attendant loss of 19,000 jobs can’t be good when you are running for reelection.
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- Federal nutrition bill would curb school bake sales
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- Is more government intervention the answer to the problem of childhood obesity?
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