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No more Twinkies, no more Wonder Bread

How will we ever survive when Hostess goes out of business?

They’re blaming it on unions, which is another reason to be glad they’re going under. I notice that they aren’t placing the blame on producing bland, textureless, sugary foods for decades.

I remember growing up on that cheap, tasteless, gooey white bread — but I remember even more vividly that first bite of real whole grain bread with a crisp crackly crust and real flavor. Maybe if they’d tried making a quality product instead of mass-produced glop, they’d still have a business.

Comments

  1. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Don’t worry the twinkies will survive long after we are all dead and gone.

    People will still have them as an excuse for assassinations well into the next century.

  2. anuran says

    It would be a small loss if they did. But here’s what will actually happen:

    There will be a blip. The “brands you know and love” will come back in a re-organized company which has shifted all its production to Mexico or non-union plants.

  3. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Americans are so fucking stupid. People in the same economic situations as those Ebil Union Workers post shit like this, the very first comment at the LA Times article:

    Don’t follow corporate-union squabbles often, however in this case the union took away a life long product that has gotten myself through many morning in life.
    I’m not interested in a re-marketed product in this case, and personally, with one vote will seek out this union and it’s affiliates and form a life long protest of purchasing products produced by their labor.
    Sorry guys, in this case, you screwed with my miniature powdered doughnuts. Shame on you. Hope you find a lump of coal in your stocking this year.
    So how many did you spit in on your last day of work?

  4. ChasCPeterson says

    Maybe if they’d tried making a quality product instead of mass-produced glop, they’d still have a business.

    Elitist. Lots and lots of people really and sincerely like their products.
    After the Sandy-fueled run on local grocery stores, there was plenty of delicious stone-ground whole-wheat bread left on the shelves, but not a single loaf of the gooey white stuff. Just an observation.

  5. says

    No one seems to be blaming the Hostess execs for fucking up the union negotiations and running the company into the ground. The blame is all one side of the table for some reason.

  6. Beatrice says

    So how many did you spit in on your last day of work?

    If assholes like this one eat them, I hope workers spit into each and every one.

  7. Matt Penfold says

    It seems the company went bust earlier in the year, and was bought by “Wall Street investors”. Probably a case of the investors demanding too big a return too soon.

  8. dianne says

    I’m just surprised that they didn’t cite Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign as a reason for their going out of business.

  9. says

    Don’t worry the twinkies will survive long after we are all dead and gone.

    Indeed. Civilizations will rise and fall. Twinkies will endure. Or, perhaps, somewhat mushed versions thereof, compressed into a thin, sweet paste, in the places where once stood the cities…

    … Millions of years in the future, archaeologists will refer to our by-then largely opaquely strange and mysterious civilization as ‘the people of the terrifyingly sweet artificial carbohydrate and AOL disk stratum’.

  10. Nepenthe says

    @Rodney Nelson

    If they stop making Cheetos, we might have an extremely distractible revolt on our hands.

  11. says

    … now and then largely intact ones, too, will be found, I expect… In peculiar circumstances, perhaps bomb shelters of missile silos that have survived, against all odds…

    It will happen from time to time… A researcher will break through a long-forgotten concrete wall, and find within, in the musty, ancient air, where all else has crumbled to dust, a single, mysterious obelisk of sweet dough, with an oleaginous white substance within…

    (/… surrounded, each time, mysteriously, by a small cluster of dead, diabetic ants.)

  12. unbound says

    Yes…all of those union workers making millions upon millions each year, they must be to blame.

    But the poor corporations whose top level executives were making not much more than minimum wage, they are the real victims…

  13. Tony–Queer Duck Overlord of The Bronze– says

    From PZ’s link:

    The union said in a statement that Hostess made unreasonable demands, including wage and benefit cuts of around 30% for workers, while top executives of the company received large pay increases.

    Gee, maybe if they hadn’t given the top executives so much extra money, they wouldn’t be struggling financially. Heck, if they simply hadn’t cut the wages and benefits to the workers, they might still be in business.

    Folks, this be Twinkle down economics at work.

  14. says

    I was just reading some articles about this a couple of minutes ago! I saw a typical report from a corporate media source, read the anti-union comments, and went searching for the other side. Had to go through several pages of Google results before I found anything other than the standard line.

    I did find this and this, which present a rather different picture.

    Lots and lots of people really and sincerely like their products.

    Well, it does appear their sales – and those of other junk-snack makers – have fallen over the past several years. Lots of people do like their products; this is entirely understandable – they’re sugar and fat. But Twinkies and Wonder Bread are evil. The best scenario as I see it would be if the workers used their skills to start their own cooperative, self-managed bakery making (vegan) whole-grain tasty breads. It could do well… Chances of this happening? Maybe .3%. It seems their hope is that it’ll be bought by a competitor who’ll have to negotiate a first contract.

  15. Tony–Queer Duck Overlord of The Bronze– says

    In other news, the power and influence of Rebecca Watson was on display today as her attack on the Hostess (maker of the beloved American staple the Twinkie) has resulted in that company going out of business.

  16. says

    I’m one of those elitist whole wheat lovers, so I’m with you there, PZ. ;) Of course, those of you who prefer white bread are okay. Everyone has different tastes.

    Nowadays, I’ve pretty much defaulted to assuming that a business’s downfall is the result of executive mismanagement unless given evidence for another reason.

  17. ChasCPeterson says

    But Twinkies and Wonder Bread are evil.

    I agree with your opinion.
    (As a kid, though, I really enjoyed their “fruit” “pies”.)

  18. Moggie says

    Tony:

    In other news, the power and influence of Rebecca Watson was on display today as her attack on the Hostess (maker of the beloved American staple the Twinkie) has resulted in that company going out of business.

    Indeed. If this Twinkie represented the normal amount of power of the average blogger, Rebecca Watson would be a Twinkie thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds.

  19. says

    A few things to keep in mind:

    Hostess went into bankruptcy in 2004, primarily because an increasingly health conscious public was not buying their goods. When it came out in 2009, they had been taken private (no longer a publicly traded company) with half of the company’s stock held by the private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings, which had a reputation of buying and stripping companies that were struggling. As a part of the close of that bankruptcy, the unions agreed to decrease their pay and benefits by 8%, with the promise that the company would continue to pay into the pension fund and would raise pay according to a schedule.

    It was at this time that the brand went to crap. Partially, it was an effort to decrease the amount of junk in the junk food; partially, it was an effort to decrease costs. Mostly, though, it was a deliberate effort to sabotage the brand. Like Judge Doom and the Red Car, Ripplewood bought Hostess to sell it. They failed to follow through on their promises to the workers, they subtly discouraged consumers from buying their products, and the company went back into bankruptcy this January. When a promised 3% increase in pay failed to materialize (even if it had, wages would have still been below 2009 levels) the unions had enough and 96% of the membership voted for a strike.

    That was exactly the excuse that Ripplewood needed. Within 24 hours of making the threat, they filed a request for liquidation with the judge in charge of the current bankruptcy. If granted, the pension fund and other liquid assets will be used to pay off outstanding debts, factories, trucks and other property will be sold off, brands and product lines will be auctioned off to the highest bidder, and Ripplewood will walk off with a couple hundred million in profit by the time everything settles out.

    Do not blame the unions for fighting to get what they were promised. Blame the equity company that had this all planned out years ago.

  20. chadwickjones says

    For fucks sake, the popular products will be bought and sold to the highest bidder… Don’t worry– you will still have plenty of chances to quicken the onset of type 2 diabetes.

  21. Alverant says

    So unions are responsible for executives raiding the pension fund and decling sales and running the company into the ground with bad decisions. Good thing there are alternatives to Hostess. This is just another excuse to bash unions even though they had nothing to do with the decision. They’re just scapegoating unions because it’s easier to do than accepting responsibility for their own actions?

  22. Tony ∞ºQueer Duck Hivemind Minionº∞ says

    Gregory in Seattle:

    Like Judge Doom

    [meta/OT]

    I love Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

  23. Ben P says

    I saw a typical report from a corporate media source, read the anti-union comments, and went searching for the other side.

    In this particular case both sides are wrong. Every story I’ve seen has had comments from conservatives blaming unions and liberals blaming the evil CEO or hedge fund owners of Hostess.

    As is often the case, the truth is quite a bit more complicated.

    I think the plain fact here is that the Union played hardball and lost. But they might have lost anyway, and just.

    Hostess has been struggling for a decade. They’ve been seeing shrinking sales, shrinking market share, and risings costs for years on end. They declared bankruptcy in 2004, came out of it in 2007 with private owners, and then declared bankruptcy again in January of 2012.

    There are a lot of factors contributing to this. The industry as a whole has shrunk some as people have become more health concious, competition from artisan makers hurts a bit, but I don’t think that was a major factor. Hostess is an industrial baker, their competition was other industrial bakers, not the guy making artisan bread down the street.

    Stating it differently, the problem for them wasn’t that people would rather buy quality artisan white bread rather than wonderbread, it’s that no one has any interest in buying “Wonderbread” when they can buy “great value white bread” (wal-mart) or whatever. It’s all the same tasteless mass baked bread.

    They also had cost problems. People dont’ want to pay more for bread, but wheat and fuel are major costs and are both more expensive. They can’t move those costs, so if they want to keep costs down they have to cut labor expenses.

    This time around in bankruptcy, the company had put on the table a 10% pay cut to all workers with the possibility of regaining 3% over 5 years, along with reduced contribution to health insurance, and reduced contributions to an employee pension fund (which only applies to past workers, they don’t offer anything like that today). In exchange for that, the workers got a 25% equity stake which would, if the company profited well, make up the same level of the prior contributions to the pension fund.

    The union called that outrageous and called a strike. I.e. they were playing hardball. The company’s response was “if the factories aren’t running, we don’t have the money to keep going for more than a couple days.” Without even looking at the bankruptcy petition to see what they reported as far as cash on hand, I have no reason to doubt that. This wasn’t a temper tantrum by the CEO, it’s a cold hard truth. If a company has no money on hand, and no money coming in, it can’t keep operating.

    That said, there is a perhaps valid attack on Hostess’ new private owners after the 2004 bankruptcy. They have done some of the same things people attacked Bain for doing. leveraging the company to get back their buyout investment, bringing in a highly paid CEO to try to turn the company around, etc. These are “by the book” moves, but certainly open to criticism, because it’s shareholder interest, not stakeholder interest. Stating that differently, a company will be run very differently by a guy that wants to see the company survive as long as it can, even if its barely breaking even, and people that see the company as nothing more than an investment.

  24. raven says

    How Hostess Failed: Hedge Funds vs Unions
    By John Carney | CNBC – 42 minutes ago

    When Hostess Brands announced that it would close up its operations, the forces most responsible for that decision were two hedge funds that control hundreds of millions of Hostess debt and which have finally decided they won’t squeeze any more filling into the Twinkie.

    The funds, Silver Point and Monarch, are what are known as distressed debt investors. They buy the debt of troubled companies–usually at steep discounts. Some consider them white knights who are willing to take make risky investments in companies on the verge of failure. Others say they are “vulture funds.”

    Only Silver Point and Monarch could have kept Hostess out of liquidation and kept the Twinkie bakery ovens firing. But they were, ultimately, unable to reach a deal with the unions that represents the workers who make and deliver products like Twinkies, Wonderbread and Ding Dongs. Without large union concessions–what some would say, total union capitulation–the hedge funds decided Hostess would have to die.

    This is not the first time Hostess Brands has entered bankruptcy. Weighed down by an balance sheet heavy with debt and pension obligations, costly labor rules, and declining sales, the company sought bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 in 2004.

    The article concludes And, of course, we’ll be in for a long bout of recriminations as everyone involved points fingers at everyone else. The truth of the matter may just be that Hostess was a failed enterprise that just could not be saved.

    From CNBC, it seems Hostess has been in trouble for years and already went BK. A big part of its failure is declining sales as many people don’t eat nutritionless, calorie dense food any more.

    Bain-like hedge funds are involved as well somehow.

    Probably Twinkies and Ding Dongs will be back after the second BK as someone tries to squeeze more money out of the brands minus pension obligations, debt, and unions.

  25. UnknownEric says

    I’ll miss Ho-Hos and those terrible, yet delicious Orange Cupcakes. They were the perfect mix of chemicals and diabetes.

  26. Ben P says

    Probably Twinkies and Ding Dongs will be back after the second BK as someone tries to squeeze more money out of the brands minus pension obligations, debt, and unions.

    True, but not quite right.

    What will happen is that when Hostess starts the liquidation process, all of its trademarks will go up for auction. Maybe they’ll be sold in bulk, maybe piecemeal.

    Even today, the legal right to sell “Twinkies” as opposed to virtually identical “creme filled vanilla snack cakes” is worth a fair bit of money.

    One of its competitors will just snap up the trademark and then begin selling “twinkies” themselves.

  27. Thomathy, Holy Trinity of Conflation: Atheist-Secularist-Darwinist says

    If they stop making Cheetos, we might have an extremely distractible revolt on our hands.

    Cheetos aren’t Hostess. They are Frito-Lay. And Frito-Lay is part of PepsiCo.

    You really don’t have to worry about your disgusting, squishy, fake-cheese puffed cornmeal things.

    (I enjoy the crunchy version, myself.)

    Anyhow, goodbye and good riddance Hostess. It’s funny, I haven’t even seen Twinkies or any other Hostess snacks on store shelves for a long while now. Maybe their presence North of the Border has been dwindling for some time already?

  28. says

    It’s ironic: management, of course, blames the union, but everything mentioned in the articles about it mentions other forces, like decreased market share, less market for sweets in general, being bought by a private equity firm, etc. The hell with facts!

    And of course, the right-wing kooky kommentors swoop in for the kill.

  29. says

    What’s happening is just good old fashioned venture capitalism. The hedge funds that majority own Hostess have borrowed and pocketed as much money as they could. They don’t necessarily want or need the company to fail after that, but if it should happen to fail, they will get all that debt wiped away in bankruptcy and they will sell the brand and the facilities to the next set of leeches that want to suck the brand name dry of any value it has.

  30. Tony ∞ºQueer Duck Hivemind Minionº∞ says

    Thomathy:

    You really don’t have to worry about your disgusting, squishy, fake-cheese puffed cornmeal things.

    I really don’t like those nasty things (Cheese Puffs…::shudder::).
    I’m with you. The crunchy Cheetos are taaaaaaasty.

  31. NitricAcid says

    I spent most of my life knowing about Twinkies and other Hostess Snak Things through the ads they had in comic books. I think I had one once as a child, and was impressed because I would finally find out what the fuss was about. Ick.

    I wouldn’t have been able to tell you if they were even available in Canada over the last twenty years, except that a friend and I simply had to try out a recipe for deep-fried Twinkies a couple of years ago. The deep-frying did not improve them.

    I won’t miss them.

  32. Randomfactor says

    There will still be Twinkies.

    They’ll just be made in China, the way the Good Lord Willard Romney intended.

  33. madtom1999 says

    As a jonny englander Let me get this straight:
    A company makes one of the cheapest mass produced products on the market and blames going out of business because the people that make it have the audacity to expect to get paid enough to be able to by said product through being members of an organisation that fights for the rights of its member’s only and isn’t the republican party?

  34. says

    @Twinkies lasting forever:

    Doesn’t work that way. At room temperature, the shelf-life of a Twinkie is about 4 weeks. Then it starts to get a bit more inedible and a bit more disgusting.

  35. AlanMac says

    Well, as long as can still get my Vachon “Jos Louis” ” Lune Moon” and “Au Caramel” Who cares.

  36. Beatrice says

    In time the only remnants of civilization will be the Twinkies and the cockroaches.

    And then Twinkies will eat the cockroaches?

  37. wilsim says

    I like how they filed for chapter 11 protection in January this year, threatened the union with bankruptcy when they refused to concede to pay and benefit cuts – all while the CEO and other administrators gave themselves nice, fat raises. CEO got a 300% raise, and (IIRC) 8 other administrators received raises between 35%-85%. Heh. Hostess is also owned by PRIVATE EQUITY – their modus operandi is to liquidate assets, selling to the highest bidder. Hostess has had 6(!) different CEOs since 2002. But the shutdown – that is definately because the union wouldn’t agree to austerity measures… ugh.

  38. silomowbray says

    Can’t say I’ll miss any Hostess “food” products. Somebody else will fill the vacuum though. It’ll just be a blip in the vicious, self-harming food cycle in North America.

  39. dianne says

    But Twinkies and Wonder Bread are evil.

    I was about to object that Twinkies and Wonder Bread aren’t evil because they’re just too ridiculously trivial to be evil. Then the term “banality of evil” floated through my mind.

    Ok, I’ll go with evil. And disgusting. I tried a twinkie. Once. Not a mistake I’d care to repeat any time short of starvation.

    Hostess, the company, appears to be at least equally evil anyway. And stupid. Blaming unions for their incompetence and greed. If nothing else, shouldn’t the top execs take the blame for negotiating with the unions so poorly that the company went bankrupt?

  40. steve oberski says

    ChasCPeterson

    After the Sandy-fueled run on local grocery stores, there was plenty of delicious stone-ground whole-wheat bread left on the shelves, but not a single loaf of the gooey white stuff. Just an observation.

    Humans have evolved to crave sugar, for most of our history this happened in an environment where there was a paucity of refined sugar.

    Just like we have started to learn to suppress other attributes such as misogeny and xenophobia that possibly gave us an evolutionary advantage in our pre-history, so it goes with our cravings for refined sugar.

    We now know that the consumption of foods containing a lot of refined sugars and starches is implicated with childhood obesity and concommitant type 2 diabetes.

    Just an observation.

  41. steve oberski says

    Well Chas, lots of people like tobacco, alcohol, cocaine and sex and would willingly smoke, drink, snort and fuck themselves to death given the time and resources.

    Before or after a hurricane.

  42. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Well Chas, lots of people like tobacco, alcohol, cocaine and sex and would willingly smoke, drink, snort and fuck themselves to death given the time and resources.

    I quit smoking years ago.

  43. says

    I suppose no one has followed that Hostess, which used to price its products based upon supply and demand, and have distribution centers in almost every county in the country only makes their products in a few kitchens now.

    Their products have been under an incessant series of terrible sales decisions and many shops have replaced them with worse, store-brand options. Hostess products are not dying because they’re of lower quality than their competition. Walmart, Safeway, have been selling their cakes at below cost for a couple years almost straight now. 7-11 replaced them on their store shelves. This isn’t how you make money! But I bet they’re caught in unreasonable sales contracts.

    Hostess is asking for a 40% reduction in worker compensation. No amount of CEO trimming will make that back… But I’d still wonder if the CEOs have been forgoing their pay packages during these bankruptcy years. Doubt it!

  44. Ogvorbis: ջարդված says

    If I recall correctly, the sugar craving is closely related to the alcohol craving. The ripest fruits, the ones with the most sugar, are usually the one just beginning to ferment so those who could process and tolerate the alcohol got more sugars. Which would explain the existence of the alcoholic ‘Twinkies’ made by Boone’s Farm.

  45. cicely says

    If they stop making Cheetos, we might have an extremely distractible revolt on our hands.

    *snortle!*
    -

    (… surrounded, each time, mysteriously, by a small cluster of dead, diabetic ants.)

    Undoubtedly a religious observance of some sort, though why ants would be the prescribed sacrifice may become a hotly-argued topic for scholarly dispute.
    -

    Like Judge Doom


    -
    Moggie: That’s a big Twinkie!
    -

    In time the only remnants of civilization will be the Twinkies and the cockroaches.

    And MRSA.
    -

  46. fastlane says

    As we all know, from the best documentary of all time(TM), Zombieland, there will be a run, and a shortage of, Twinkies in the coming apocalypse, so stock up now.

    For me, my guilty pleasure are Ding Dongs, but I’ll buy one…oh, once every couple years or so. I bought a case once, with, I think, 12 Ding Dongs in it, and it took at least 2 years to eat them. The only upside is that the last one was almost as good as the first one, even after a 2 year shelf life. :)

    For my whole grain bread, I’ve just discovered Dave’s Killer Bread. The 21 grain bread is phenomenally good. Please no one ruin this new discovery by telling me something rotten about this company, when it seems like it’s actually moderately socially conscious, and did I mention yummy?

    http://www.daveskillerbread.com/killer-bread/21-whole-grains.html

  47. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    fastlane Dave’s Killer Bread uses puppies in their dough. Puppies stolen from orphans.

  48. says

    It should be noted that Hostess Brands (the formal name of the corporation) was more than just snack cakes and Wonder Bread. Many of the national and regional brands of bread were owned by Hostess, including Holsom, Nature’s Pride, Toscana, Mrs. Cubbison’s and Parisian.

  49. Ogvorbis: ջարդված says

    Puppies are not grain. Wouldn’t that make it 20 grain (and part of a canid) bread?

  50. chigau (棒や石) says

    I bet the “Sandy-fueled run on local grocery stores” emptied the shelves of alcohol and tobacco along with the white bread.

  51. madscientist says

    I was elated when I saw the news; that’ll be a little less crap on the shelves. On the other hand I’m enraged by how poorly the people who do the actual work are treated. Was it Huey Long who said “If anyone tells you they got rich through hard work, ask them who’s work.”

  52. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Puppies are not grain. Wouldn’t that make it 20 grain (and part of a canid) bread?

    Secret ingredient. You think they’re going to tell you the secret ingredient?

    Water and salt are not grains either.

  53. Ogvorbis: ջարդված says

    Water and salt are not grains either.

    But you can have a grain of salt, right? And water hardness is measured in grains, right?

    However, I can’t think of any way that yeast would be grain related.

  54. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Touche. However wouldn’t that make it a 23 grain and yeast bread?

    Puppies, last i checked do not come in grain form.

    yet.

    /evil laugh

  55. Ogvorbis: ջարդված says

    Puppies, last i checked do not come in grain form.

    Maybe they pickle them in grain alcohol first?

    (We should probably stop before we get silly.)

  56. TonyJ says

    Maybe I’m just an elitist, but I think peoples’ tastes are becoming more sophisticated (at least the people I know). Nobody I know buys that Wonderbread crap anymore, and when they want a pastry, they buy it from an actual bakery.

  57. Ogvorbis: ջարդված says

    WTF will mormons do during sacrament meeting without wonderbread?

    They still have the cheese whiz and the jello. And as the great Meatloaf has told us, Two out of Three Ain’t Bad.

  58. Alverant says

    #54
    It doesn’t really matter if trimming executive pay helps or not. It’s the idea of shared sacrifice that counts. By not taking a pay cut they’re saying, “You don’t count but we do.”

  59. Tony ∞ºQueer Duck Hivemind Minionº∞ says

    chigau:

    I bet the “Sandy-fueled run on local grocery stores” emptied the shelves of alcohol and tobacco along with the white bread.

    Ok, I want those ingredients on an episode of Chopped. Along with a Twinkie.

  60. superiot89 says

    Just to name a few: Wonder, Natures Pride, Home Pride, Merita bread, dolly madison, and drakes, are all brands owned by Hostess Brands. So YES.. they make all kinds of breads including white, whole wheat, whole grain, rye, you name it!! It’s just simply packaged and branded differently. In fact..t Most of your supermarket bread is wonder bread including many of the generic “store” brands.
    Source: A family of now “former” Hostess emloyees

  61. twincats says

    Hostess products haven’t been what they used to be for a long time, AFAICT. My husband says the recipes changed when they got rid of the trans fats, but I think they changed long before that. Or maybe I just grew up? So, yeah, I haven’t bought a twinkie or ding dong in decades.

    For my whole grain bread, I’ve just discovered Dave’s Killer Bread. The 21 grain bread is phenomenally good.

    My favorite Dave’s variety is the yellow-packaged Good Seed. Let the jokes begin :D

  62. Ogvorbis: ջարդված says

    My favorite Dave’s variety is the yellow-packaged Good Seed. Let the jokes begin

    Sorry. I fail to see any openings for humour in Good Seed Bread. Sounds like a good name for a bread made with seeds.

  63. Jerry says

    twincats and Ogvorbis,
    I heard the Bad Seed Bread was discontinued. Who would have known that ragweed, foxglove, dandelion, goldenrod and stink cabbage would prove unpopular?

  64. says

    I missed this

    After the Sandy-fueled run on local grocery stores, there was plenty of delicious stone-ground whole-wheat bread left on the shelves, but not a single loaf of the gooey white stuff. Just an observation.

    thats probably because the white bread lasts longer because it is loaded with preservatives.

  65. Nepenthe says

    Cheetos aren’t Hostess. They are Frito-Lay. And Frito-Lay is part of PepsiCo.

    You really don’t have to worry about your disgusting, squishy, fake-cheese puffed cornmeal things.

    I know. That’s why I’m not loading up the doughnut and chocolate bar cannon in anticipation.

  66. cm's changeable moniker says

    There was a relatively balanced article in Fortune back in July that laid out the situation. Unfortunately for the people involved, it seems to have come to the worst possible outcome.

    Ben P @#26 probably had it right.

    Some comments here need some rebuttals though:

    Mostly, though, it was a deliberate effort to sabotage the brand. [...] they subtly discouraged consumers from buying their products [...] That was exactly the excuse that [they] needed. Within 24 hours of making the threat, they filed a request for liquidation [...] the pension fund and other liquid assets will be used to pay off outstanding debts, factories, trucks and other property will be sold off, brands and product lines will be auctioned off to the highest bidder, and [they] will walk off with a couple hundred million in profit[...] Blame the equity company that had this all planned out years ago.

    Tin foil hat? There was no pension fund to loot. The PE guys lost money on the deal. They™ wanted the business to succeed, but it didn’t.

    Gee, maybe if they hadn’t given the top executives so much extra money, they wouldn’t be struggling financially.

    CEO salary was $1.5m. 19,000 employees at, what, $30k/year? is just short of $600m (versus revenues of $2.5 billion). It wasn’t the C-suite’s pay that brought them down.

    What’s happening is just good old fashioned venture capitalism. The hedge funds that majority own Hostess have borrowed and pocketed as much money as they could.

    Aaaargh! No! The other way around: hedge funds lent as much money as they could afford, which they’ve now lost. And they didn’t own the company, the PE firm (mostly) did.

    They [hedge funds] don’t necessarily want or need the company to fail after that, but if it should happen to fail, they will get all that debt wiped away in bankruptcy

    You mean they’ll see their losses realised? Yes, that’s totally what they want. /sarc (You’re confusing hedgies with PE guys. These groups are competitors.)

    tl/dr:

    Ripplewood burned $170m of rich people’s money hoping they could cut some deals with the unions to save the company. The hedgies stumped up $600m of rich people’s money to come along for the ride. After two years of losing money selling unprofitable, unpopular products, the endeavor was toast.

    After filing Chapter 11, and 8 months’ negotiation, the Teamsters were ready to cut a deal, but the Bakers held out, and eventually, the hedgies said “screw this shit, we’ve lost $400m already” and filed for bankruptcy.

    Omnishambles. :-(

  67. John Morales says

    cm:

    CEO salary was $1.5m. 19,000 employees at, what, $30k/year?

    Clearly, it’s quite reasonable for a CEO to earn 50 times the income of an employee.

    <snark>

  68. sharoncrawford says

    The Hostess brand AND Wonder bread are owned by different entities in Canada. We in the Great White North will still have access to Hostess Twinkies, etc.

    I’m prepared to start a small business smuggling Ho-Hos into the US.

  69. carlie says

    I’d like to know what Hostess has been doing to its recipes/ingredients over the last decade or so. I used to love their apple pies, but I just had one a year or so ago and it was terrible. It wasn’t a matter of just having rose-colored memories of it; it was stale, too crumbly, too little filling, too little glaze, all the signs of the processing being skimped on at every step of the way. Their sales decline isn’t just that people decided they didn’t like the processed sugary crap; even by the standards of lovers of processed sugary crap, they’ve gone downhill. Why pay twice as much for Hostess as Little Debbie when it tastes worse?

  70. Tony ∞ºQueer Duck Hivemind Minionº∞ says

    sharoncrawford:

    We in the Great White North will still have access to Hostess Twinkies, etc.

    I can’t decide if this is a good thing or not :)

  71. says

    Re: Alverant 16 November 2012 at 3:13 pm>
    You’re perfectly right. I just meant to put in perspective how deeply they’ve run a company into the ground.

  72. left0ver1under says

    Everything I’ve read on this story says the same thing: the CEOs cut off all pensions, demanded – and got – concessions from employees. And what did they do in return?

    They paid themselves excessive salaries while failing to do what they promised, and failing to reinvest the pension and concessions into new equipment. And it turns out they always intended for the company to go out of business, so the concessions and pensions were nothing more than theft from the union.

    Don’t despair, fans of garbage like twinkies: the company may have gone bust, but the copyright owners will still be able to make and sell it through somebody else. No doubt that was the intent, making the product somewhere without unions, in a place where the workers can’t afford to buy twinkies.

    Cripes, the wages being paid to the union workers weren’t that high, only about $11 per hour, and the company STILL wanted to ship the jobs out of the country and use this to bash unions. There really is no depth to the depravity of CEOs.

  73. Lofty says

    @80 skeptifem

    thats probably because the white bread lasts longer because it is loaded with preservatives.

    Yup, a guy I knew hated the local specialist bakery bread (famous throughout our district) because it went stale before he got to the end of the loaf. A true but sad indictment on his upbringing.

  74. carlie says

    Yup, a guy I knew hated the local specialist bakery bread (famous throughout our district) because it went stale before he got to the end of the loaf. A true but sad indictment on his upbringing.

    How so? If it goes stale before he’s done, then part of it is wasted, and the taste might not be worth the money it actually costs him (twice as much per slice as for other people, if it’s stale by the time he gets half through). A huge chunk of everything about food and cooking has always been about trying to preserve it for use later so that it won’t go to waste.

  75. robro says

    OMG! What will Zippy do? No more Ding Dongs and taco sauce. Perish the thought! Alert the President. Call in the Fed! Hostess is a national treasure. It’s too big to fail. The world is surely coming to an end.

  76. Nepenthe says

    Lofty, had he never heard of French onion soup!? What a deprived person! And they even sell the mix in packets if you’re really lazy.

  77. says

    I’d send him some recipes for bread pudding or croutons.

    I also prefer staler bread for toast.

    He could also consider sharing the bread with someone to split the costs.

  78. Lofty says

    @91 carlie
    I have been living on the local bread for 25 years, even stale it tastes better than el cheapo white (especially toasted). Any bread I want kept fresh I put in the freezer, comes out quite well a month or two later.
    One week old grainy bread, toasted, slab of lightly smelly cheese on, … I feel like a snack, right now… :-)

  79. says

    they called it Wonder Bread because it was packed with whatever processed flour removed and cut the rickets problem down South,at least that’s the story i heard.

  80. unclefrogy says

    I once raised rabbits and would feed them things besides regular pellets, fruit and vegetables, sweetcorn stalks, leftover dried up bread some kinds of garden trimmings like live oak branches small ones and weeds. I even gave them a dug fir 2×4 block to chew on it all would disappear even the oak went fast a week or less.
    I gave them some ordinary white bread like wonder-bread I took it out after a month they would just roll it around.
    I stopped eating it myself from then on.

    I feel for the people who are out of work because of it but the management both the original and the ones since it was taken private failed to make it a success they did not keep up with the demands of the market. That is not in the control of the workers that is the responsibility of management.
    I have read some rather balanced reporting saying as much.
    the company owes over a billion to its creditors the largest $994 million to The Bakery & Confectionary Union & Industry International Pension Fund
    sounds like the union is taking a big loss and you wonder why the unions fight so hard for contracts and pensions. Management will most likely do better then the workers out of this as will the private equity investors.
    sad

    uncle frogy

  81. Crudely Wrott says

    Anecdotal testimony relevant to what Unclefroggy had to say about the rabbits he used to raise:

    My mother made killer bread! The slices were significantly larger than any standard piece of sandwich meat. That was way cool because you would have to fan out three or four slices so as to ensure meat in every bite. The crust was thick and crunchy and there was flavor! Not to mention the smell of the rising dough or the aroma of unwrapping my sandwich in the school cafeteria. Other kid’s noses would point upwards and turn my way. They were forever offering to trade their (white bread) sandwiches for mine.

    OK, enough fond reverie.

    Ma used to raise rats as a young girl. She said that during the warm seasons (this in southern Maine, Kittery, to be exact) she kept them in cages outdoors. The cages had openings on the bottoms so that the lil’ ratties could nibble on the grasses and weeds and whatnot. She also gleaned edibles from the brambles and fields and woods for them.

    She told us that they got fat and sleek as the summer wore on and by the time autumn rains and leaves began to fall they were happy little buggers and so were their babies.

    When winter was in the offing, she moved them inside. By parental dictate the only acceptable place indoors was the cellar. Since the bounty of summer was no longer available for browsing, Ma had to improvise, sustaining them on meager table scraps and bread. White bread. No bakers in her home then, sadly.

    The rats grew thin and listless. Small facial tumors were frequent. Death was too.

    Come the next spring, her brood was diminished enough that she would have to work extra chores for the money to obtain new stock. She told us that after three years she stopped trying to raise them because she couldn’t bear to see her pets go down into the cellar anymore.

    An interesting exercise: purchase a loaf of Wonder Bread, or a comparable brand. Carefully remove the uncrusty crusts from each slice. Place the remaining naked slices in a bowl. Commence kneading as if it was uncooked dough. Gaze in wonder at how small a ball of bread you end up with. Why, there’s little more than a single mouthful left!

    Try that with a loaf of homemade multi-grain.

  82. McC2lhu doesn't want to know what you did there. says

    I didn’t like any of the other stuff, but I liked the Ding Dongs, as long as they were made in Canada. The ones from US production lines were horrific. They weren’t fit to be used as hockey pucks. Maybe this is the universe’s way of saying to snackers that they should expect better.

  83. esmith4102 says

    Oh No! Does Hostess closing down mean “Weight Watchers” will soon follow? I guess I can’t complain too much over that!

  84. esmith4102 says

    My sweet little wife used to l_o_v_e twinkies – all 105 pounds of her. No more twinkies? She would be sad!

  85. unclefrogy says

    to anyone in blog management: Why did the comments following my last comments show up in my e-mail in box when I woke up this morning? I never had that happen before here and I am not new.
    Did I do something wrong or has the blog software malfunctioning?

    uncle frogy

  86. chigau (棒や石) says

    unclefrogy
    Look at the check boxes under the Preview button.
    You may have accidentally clicked one.

  87. says

    Interestingly, people who eat ick food have told me that Hostess is objectively better. It is baked locally, fresher, and actually uses higher quality ingredients in the sense that they make higher quality strange white goo that cannot occur in nature.

    Hostess’ problem as I see it is that the people who want to pay for quality have moved on to artisan whole grain and the people who don’t care are buying the cheap, dry stuff at Wal-mart.

  88. says

    Interestingly, people who eat ick food have told me that Hostess is objectively better. It is baked locally, fresher, and actually uses higher quality ingredients in the sense that they make higher quality strange white goo that cannot occur in nature.

    If you mean, “objectively better” in the sense that they still taste better than most of the alternatives, despite having gotten a bit dryer, a bit less flavorful (yeah, even the filling just doesn’t seem quite like what it did before…), and prone to going stale slightly faster… Only things I even bought from them was the white powdered donuts, the vanilla zingers, and maybe, once in a while, some ding-dongs. And that last one.. seemed to be just a hair less moist than they used to be, unless I just didn’t remember well, given how long it had been since I bought one. Oh, and.. if Suzzy-Qs are theirs, then I used to buy those once in a while, but.. the last few times I did there just seemed to be something “off” about them too.

    I suspect, like most businesses, they cut back, as much as they thought they could manage, and dropped quality as a result, over the last six years or so, while giving their top execs raises, and are now wondering, “What went so horribly wrong?!?” Sigh…

  89. coreyhammer says

    Not gonna miss the sweets at all, but not having the Wonder Smart Wheat s a problem. It’s better than other low carb/low cal breads I’ve tried. I don’t particularly care for the flatbreads and regular whole grain/who wheat breads have to many calories.

  90. Ichthyic says

    @benp:

    That said, there is a perhaps valid attack on Hostess’ new private owners after the 2004 bankruptcy.

    PERHAPS??

    wow, live in denial much?

    this could just as easily have read as a sequel to “Wall Street”, it was so obviously a cut and slash attack.

  91. says

    Re: unclefrogy 17 November 2012 at 2:07 am

    Why would rabbits eat bread? It’s bread. I have one cat that eats bread and another that just rolls on it. I don’t see the connection.

  92. Old At Heart says

    @112, I dunno, I hear there’s an issue with bird photographers using bread for eagles and hawks as bait, so I guess you could be surprised. Rabbits are voracious little stomachs on legs.

    The geese up here though? They love the stale bread. So buy the good stuff, and when it goes bad because I can’t eat a whole loaf in 5 days, the rest goes to the geese, who are happy to take it, once its soaked in a bit of pond water. I make them fight the catfish over it. Pond is filled with them.

  93. unclefrogy says

    Crissa:
    Rabbits like bread and grain, rabbit pellets contain Milo, millet and other crushed grain along with alfalfa in what has been determined to be the optimum proportions for health and growth. they also ate onion skin with relish, whole grain breads of all kinds were a favorite. I started to put some 1″ green Live Oak branches in with them so they could gnaw on something for their teeth and was surprised when they rapidly ate the whole thing leaves, stems, bark and the wood not just chew it up but not “wonderbread” white bread (baked library paste)I guess that they did not think much of it’s nutritional value or taste.
    I was surprised.

  94. blf says

    Fantastic!

    When and where will the executives and shareholders be shot? Producing, distributing, and profiting-from that shite — excuse me, horrific slow-acting poison — for so long to so many (many children) has to be some form of genocide.

    (Adjust your snark settings as appropriate…)