When the gods dance...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Who Killed Hostess Brands and Twinkies?

I’m sure you have, by now, heard the news. Hostess Brands, the company that gave us such remembered childhood treats as Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Devil Dogs and other baked foodstuffs that have fallen into disfavor in our more gourmand age, announced today that it would be closing for business, effective immediately.

Box of Twinkies

Box of Twinkies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More than a few observers say they know who to blame for the demise of the iconic company: the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International union, which represents thousands of striking Hostess Brand workers who have refused to accept a new contract that would do everything from slash their salaries to their retirement benefits.

Time for a reality check.

Hostess has been sold at least three times since the 1980s, racking up debt and shedding profitable assets along the way with each successive merger. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2004, and again in 2011. Little thought was given to the line of products, which, frankly, began to seem a bit dated in the age of the gourmet cupcake. (100 calorie Twinkie Bites? When was the last time you entered Magnolia Bakery and asked about the calorie count?)

As if all this were not enough, Hostess Brands’ management gave themselves several raises, all the while complaining that the workers who actually produced the products that made the firm what money it did earn were grossly overpaid relative to the company’s increasingly dismal financial position.

So now an estimated 18,500 workers will join the nation’s unemployment rolls. But while Hostess Brands might soon become a forgotten name from the past, it’s unlikely such a fate awaits such signature products as Twinkies. Company executives have already asked for bankruptcy court permission to begin the process of selling off their famed product lines to other companies.

Finally, a personal note: A few years ago, my husband picked our children up from a playdate at a home where, he said, it seemed like more food was banned than allowed, there was no television, and it was all too politically correct in the way all too many middle class childhoods are today. My husband’s response? Before bringing the boys home, he stopped in at a local grocery and introduced our ecstatic children to fine products of Hostess Brands. “Yodels,” he told me, “never tasted so good.”

Addendum: Since this has come up in the comments, I need to remind everyone that Hostess Brands acquired Drake’s Cakes in one the many of the misbegotten mergers it was involved in.

COMMENT:  It's the union, that job killer, that took away our Twinkies. Not quite. See the article. 

As for Twinkies in the "gourmand age...", give me a break. Bacon this and that. The resurrection of the pot pie. Perhaps after years of paying major money at restaurants for a plate with 3oz of hand crafted things artfully presented and guaranteed not to increase your health insurance rates, many sensible Americans are discovering or rediscovering hearty American cuisine. Roast beef and gravy with mashed potatoes. Southern fried chicken. Corn dogs. Mincemeat pie. This Thanksgiving I'll be making a turkey dinner with my fruit-meat stuffing (cooked in the bird-wild risk-taking, eh?), giblet gravy, home made cranberry sauce, pies and all. Sanjay Gupta be damned!!

The Washington Post claims Twinkies are dubbed “the cream puff of the proletariat.” Blue collar pastry. No wonder there are divisions in the USA. WP goes on: "Twinkies became a lunchtime staple for post-World War II generations of schoolchildren — something to take the sting off the bologna sandwich and the dutiful apple." Worker kids lunch?:) I've been wanting to make a fried bologna sandwich but I can't find a slab of bologna roll at the market. It only comes presliced. 

No comments:

Post a Comment