Enjoying Them While They Last

As I noted on Twitter, I don’t actually expect that Twinkies will disappear if Hostess’ parent company actually goes through with its threat to liquidate — Twinkies and other assorted Hostess products have too valuable a brand name for that — but on the other hand, why not buy a couple of the sponge cakes just in case. I also picked up a couple packages of raspberry Zingers, which, truth to tell, are my favorite creme-filled snack cake, although I liked them better when they were from Dolly Madison. How times change.

71 thoughts on “Enjoying Them While They Last

  1. Hostees bought out Drake’s but kept the name and packaging on the shelves. Ring Dings are much better than Ding Dongs, I can taste the difference.

  2. If you don’t think too hard about what’s in them, Twinkies make a nice occasional treat. That’s probably true of most mass produced foods these days, but I like my convenience foods. I’m sure someone will buy up all Hostess’ most popular products.

  3. Farewell, “Twinkie defense,” 1930-2012, and good riddance. You were fake and unhealthy to begin with, and if we put you in a tomb, you’d last another 80 years essentially and frighteningly unchanged. Stay gone.

  4. Never fear my American friends. You can always come to Canada and pick up your Hostess products. George Weston owns the rights to the Hostess lines in Canada.

  5. On the website I moderate, our token Fox News True Believer™ blamed Hostess’ demise on Teh Ebil Unions™. Which is a change from blaming things on Teh Ebil President™ at least! I must say, though, that the photo of this … food … product makes them look singularly unappetizing.

  6. For me, it’s the pies. The evil, evil, pies. They hit every single medical condition I have or am at risk for — diabetes, heart disease, you name it. But they’re sooooo gooooood. I reserve them only as a treat for long (2+ hour) road trips, which I take very rarely. (PS: Just got Fuzzy Nation through iBooks. Am tearing through it at an insane pace.)

  7. @Elgion – Dolly Madison used to be a separate company, back in the days when they were sponsoring Peanuts cartoons. But, like Drake’s, they were acquired by Hostess. So Zingers no longer really compete with Twinkies and Ring Dings no longer compete with Ding-Dongs. Somehow Little Debbie remained above the fray, though.

  8. I keep hearing that Hostess failed because it didn’t keep up with the times. I’m not sure how that meshes with the rising obesity level in the U.S. Maybe they didn’t have enough transfat.

    I would miss the lemon fruit pies if the Hostess brand were to disappear. They would only turn up every few months (unlike the ubiquitous apple pies) and so I would eat maybe three a year. Any more and I’d probably have grown sick of them.

    Anyway, roll on the Bimbo snack cakes and their terrifying bear mascot.

  9. If there are no more Twinkies™, how will I explain the slang word ‘twink(ie)’, meaning a particular type of young gay man? (As Armistead Maupin points out, it’s a gay man’s way of being a male chauvinist pig.) The idea, as far as I can tell, was that they’re tasty but not suitable for a steady diet…in other words, good for one-night stands but not relationships. It’s one of those words with a really insulting origin used blithely by people who would never have thoughts that offensive. Now it’s just an age and body type.

  10. I mourn the loss of jobs, of course, and the passing of yet another American icon. But…

    Decades ago, when I was in college, someone in the dorm fastened a Twinkie to their room’s door frame and left it there over the summer. When we all came back in September, not only was the Twinkie still soft and moist, nothing had so much as nibbled at it. Not a single insect, mouse, or even cockroach had gone anywhere near the thing.

    You’ve heard of the Uncanny Valley effect, right? The gap between actual living things and their nearest robotic imitators?

    That’s how I feel about Twinkies et al: The Uncanny Valley of food.

  11. Little known ‘fact’

    The factory where Twinkies were made shut down in the mid Sixties. Ever since then, they have just been shipping out pf that one massive warehouse. The real reason Hostes is shutting down is the Twinkie warehouse is FINALLY EMPTY!!

  12. The CEO is naturally blaming unions. Because the workers should have just STFU and taken the 25% cut in pay and bennies so he and the vulture capitalists could keep feeding off them a little longer.

  13. Why not buy a bunch for disaster preparedness?

    One of my co-workers kept a twinkie in her desk for more than 15 years. The packaging became brittle and flaked apart and the twinkie was fine.

  14. I don’t actually expect that Twinkies will disappear if Hostess’ parent company actually goes through with its threat to liquidate

    Isn’t that what intestines have been doing to Twinkies for decades? I tried a Twinkie once – the food, not the one-night-stand – after I watched Die Hard for the third or fourth time (I suppose, technically, product placement worked on me once). I wanted to see what all the fuss was over. I’ve gotta say, if I’m gonna eat complete junk food, I prefer something with actual taste to it. Twinkies were bland and not even remotely worth their negative-food-value calories.

  15. Matthew Ernese: mmmmmm Tastykake. If only. (They’re not exactly shipped to the Pacific Northwet(SIC). I liked their coffeecakes, very very much.

    Every couple/three years, I give in and eat the Hostess chocolate cupcakes with that it-sure-as-hell-isn’t-real-cream filling. That, or the coconut covered snowballs.

    John’s right, though, the Dolley Madison cakes tasted better than Hostess.

  16. I am so glad that Moonpies are safe. And the lemon pies haven’t tasted right in years, way before I had a heart bypass and had to stop the junk food.

  17. I once offered to take a Briton to a grocery store to buy the Twinkies her sister had requested as a souvenir of her trip to California. “Oh, no” said she. “We’ll buy them just before we go home. I don’t want them to get stale.” I fell over laughing.

  18. I know its all in good fun, but twinkies don’t actually last longer than other foods they rot and grow mold. the “will last for 100 years” meme is a myth its always been a myth. Just like the “we only use 10% of our brains” myth.

  19. “Ass!” -Mallory Archer

    you just made by blood sugar spike with that picture. You realize that some of us out here (Type 2 diabetic here) try to avoid stuff like this and then you toss temptation in our faces? :-P

    on the other hand.. no… twinkies will survive into the next geologic era.

  20. @ notsont

    Actually, you do (hopefully) only use about 10% to 20% of your brain’s neurons at a given time. Using more is known as a brain seizure. You’re brain is an information processing circuit. Lighting up every pathway on a circuit board tends to short it out. As with many mental myths, the idea that smarter people use more neurons at once is rooted in the misconception that if some is good, more is better, whereas in fact the differences lie in how efficiently information is accessed. Dumping out a filebox all at once isn’t very efficient.

    So ‘Twinkies never turn’ is even less true, strictly speaking.

  21. My sibs and I are marching to the beat of a different carb. We are lamenting the loss of “Wonder Bread”. Not for its taste, but for its ability to be turned into a dinner table weapon by morphing into bread pills to shoot across the table when the parental units were not looking. Why yes, we were raisede by dachshunds

  22. @Xopher, “twink” is so far divorced from “Twinkie” nowadays that the demise of the snack cake won’t matter. I believe it’s now associated with “twinkle’, with the connotation of the skinny, pretty young’uns being all glittery.

  23. Me, I’ll miss the orange cupcakes. I’d eat a package every 8-10 years whether I needed it or not.
    As far as the “chocolate” snacks – always preferred Drakes because they had more of the chocolate glaze. Ring Dings, especially.

  24. @Xopher – Huh. I associate “Twinkie” as a slur used in the Asian American community for young people perceived as having assimilated too much. Yellow on the outside, white on the inside, is the implication.

  25. @ Elaine We are lamenting the loss of “Wonder Bread”.
    My mom wouldn’t let Wonder Bread in the house. Which is interesting, because I don’t know if it was particularly better or worse than any other packaged commercial “bread” product.

  26. Loved Hostess pudding pies when I was younger, especially the TMNT version that had green ooze filling and collector cards. Can’t stand them now.

  27. I don’t know the rules on posting links, so I won’t do so. There is a good article from the August 13, 2012 issue of Fortune by David A. Kaplan entitled “Hostess is bankrupt…Again” that is available online. It goes through the history of the company’s ownership/management changes and the various postures adopted by the various unions involved at different points of the financial meltdown. There are some interesting tidbits on both sides of the negotiation equation.

  28. Lurkertype, I was talking about the origin of the word, rather than its current associations.

    Tapetum, that’s fascinating. I wonder if that causes confusion among 18-23-year-old gay Asian boys or their admirers? I guess “banana” wasn’t derisive enough, huh?

    efgoldman, it definitely was. It was packaged air. Most packaged white bread is pretty terrible, but you could literally fold Wonder Bread in quarters and slip it under the door. And it was “fortified” with 12 nutrients…which still left it nutrient-light compared to real bread.

  29. Bleah. I used to eat Twinkies at times when I was a kid, but I wasn’t crazy about them even then. Same for the Hostess cupcakes. Guess I’ve been a snob forever!

  30. chocolate cupcakes were a an awesome decadence ten or twenty years ago. either they changed since then, or maybe I did. They dont do it for me lately. never liked twinkies.

    i do find it interesting that the ‘twinkies last forever’ myth is so prevalent. Its been mentioned in Tav shows and movies. Last ones I saw were Family Guy and Zombieland. Its white cake and cream filling. why would it last forever?

    I could sort of understand if people didnt like twinkies that they would get a bad rap. but it seems they’re popular, yet people keep spreading the myth.

  31. When I was young I stole a pack of twinkies from another kids lunch box and got caught. When I got home my mother whipped me with the rubber hose. Every evening for the next two weeks my parents forced me to watch them and my sister eat twinkies for dessert after dinner. I never ate twinkies again.

  32. “There’s a box of Twinkies in that grocery store. Not just any box of Twinkies, the last box of Twinkies that anyone will enjoy in the whole universe. Believe it or not, Twinkies have an expiration date. Some day very soon, Life’s little Twinkie gauge is gonna go… empty.”

  33. Ok, ok, I’ll bite the twinkie.

    Has anyone mentioned that the company management told the union leaders that they would be forced to close the plants if they went on strike?

    I understand the company was looking for large concessions on the pension packages of the employees. Wouldn’t that have been better than shuttering the company?

    I’m not intimately familiar with the details of this situation. I’m just bringing up what I have heard. Is it true?

  34. My favorite Hostess snack cake was Susie Qs. When I searched them out, I got the following message: “Hostess Brands is Closed. We are sorry to announce that Hostess Brands, Inc. has been forced by a Bakers Union strike to shut down all operations and sell all company assets.”

    You know what? Knowing what I now know about how all this came to pass, all the executive raises and the union busting tactics, I say f**k you, Hostess. Go into that dark night and suck that hydrogenated white foamy goodness for eternity. I can live without Susie Q. But, damn, I am sorry all those bakers lost their jobs.

  35. onecos, you cut the wrong thing out of your life. Twinkies are healthier than your sicko parents.

    (No, I don’t really assume you still have your parents in your life. I just hope you’ve escaped from them.)

    Billy, companies are always demanding unreasonable union concessions and threatening to close plants if they don’t get them. They blackmail towns with the same threat. No reasonable person thinks the union is at fault here. allison has it right.

    allison, thanks for explaining so clearly.

  36. Hostess would have gone out of business in this, their latest, bankruptcy anyway. Doing it this way just enables the executives and vulture capitalists to get their last bit of money out, and cast the blame on someone else instead of their own business incompetence.

    Xopher, I know what you meant, but I don’t think the young men being referred to nowadays know that the term referred to the snack cake back in the day. Maupin might as well be prehistory. It’s not like those boys would consume all those carbs anyway!

  37. Xopher, I don’t know. I couldn’t agree more with hating on executives who vote themselves raises in spite of the company failing, but how much did that factor into the overall failure of the company?

    I have read this:
    “Hostess is saddled with 372 collective bargaining agreements, 80 different health and pension benefit plans and workers’ compensation costs that last year hit $52 million–which works out to over $2700 for each of its 19,000 employees.”

    Despite this unsustainable situation, Smith notes that union was so intransigent it refused to even give up paid holidays on workers birthdays, an odd benefit that almost no companies provide. Also, the union work rules at Hostess were near farcical:

    Ridiculous union work rules that are consciously engineered to increase inefficiency and create superfluous jobs are making Hostess uncompetitive with other industry players. If cakes and bread arrive together and are headed to the same place, they must nevertheless be split onto separate trucks; drivers are forbidden to load products onto their trucks.

  38. Todd, Holy freakin crap.

    To anyone who else who wants to comment on this subject, please read the cnn link in Todd’s comment.

    I had no idea.

  39. @Billy,

    Yeah, blows a few preconceived notions out of the water, doesn’t it? And some of the union rules at Hostess pale in comparison to some other places. Some of the rules at Eastern Airlines back in the day would make your head spin.

    Dav

  40. @merrylily,

    Sure, its a pretty common occurrence in the business world, you pay the executives you want to retain. If they leave, a company that’s failing is hurt even more. Those raises though, were not the reason Hostess is going out of business.

    Also, the salary raises many people are alluding to took place earlier in the year, under a different CEO. The article I linked to has some further details on this.

    Dav

  41. Assuming all those 19,000 employees work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, that works out to $1.30/hour for pensions and workers’ compensation. 18% of the minimum wage, added onto the other per-employee costs, doesn’t sound “unsustainable” to me. (Granted, the average employee may work less than that, but exactly why am I supposed to look at this number and immediately think “that’s too high” instead of “that’s not too high”?)

  42. Believe it or not upon hearing this news AND being told that it effects other brands of affordable bread ( I guess they own those companies too-go figure) it brought to mind a couple of things. 1) Some idiot posting a message about Obama ruining the country and how we would be paying $5,00 for gas and $6 for a loaf of bread. 2) Going galt which has been covered in this post quite well. I’m sure no one who is a faithful reader will be surprised by how many people posted comments here and there about how this is just the first sign of the evils of reelecting Obama. How the Republicans were so right about the evils of Unions and now Obama can come swooping in with a huge bailout package-because that’s what he does gives and gives. Even though there is NO PROOF that it has ever worked not even in the auto industry. Seriously I read this more than once) To say the least I had myself a few laughs last night. I do feel sorry for the people who lost their jobs and also for the people who relied on wonder and their other companies that produced bread and rolls-not the junk food. Yeah I know it’s not the healthiest bread but at least they were able to feed their children some bread. Speaking from experience what’s available on the market once those brands are gone are just to pricey such as Sara Lee or Arnolds
    I also think there needs to be an investigation, because how in the hell did this company manage to go bankrupt in the first place, I don’t buy the bullshit regarding the Unions and bakers demanding such outrageous terms either.

  43. An investigation, Evette? By whom? On what basis? As far as I have been able to tell, Hostess, et. al., is not a government agency, nor has it received any government subsidies (I may be wrong, but surely someone would have commented on a “twinkie bailout”). Thus, I cannot see a justification for Congressional hearnings or an investigation on that basis. I have seen no reports of Pinkertons machine-gunning picketers, and the management (or missmanagement) has been operating under the guidance and within the parameters of a bankruptcy court. I have seen no allegations of laws being broken by either the unions or the management, so no cause for a criminal investigation. As to figuring out “how the hell did this company manage to go bankrupt in the first place,” I think a click on the link Todd provides above would be a good place to start understanding the circumstances.

  44. This and every other union negotiation I’ve ever read about tells me one thing: always take less money NOW instead of promises of more later. The pension fund is the first thing the executive raids when things go bad, so any promises of pensions should always be assumed lies.

  45. Blaming unions? Par for the course. I’m waiting to see when the right starts blaming Michelle Obama’s healthier lunches for kids program on the bankruptcy of Hostess.

  46. Hostess has fallen upon by the vultures a few years ago. They borrowed a ton of money to buy their stake then began sucking money out for themselves. Hostess might still be in trouble if this had not happened but a combination of management that was only interested in lining their pockets and disinterested in moving the company forward has made the company fail.

    Anyone who has seen Mel Brooks “The Producers” knows how this business style works; only the success of the company would foil these busterts plans – failure is their goal. “Failure’ is the key that allows them to pull the last dime out & never pay the loans back.

    In the interest of full disclosure I worked for a company for nearly 20 years & the vultures attacked. They sold of valuable bits of the company include the one I worked for. That sale was followed by a series of vulture attacks. We took 20% pay cuts and large increases in benefit costs. Eventually one raided the pension fund. Instead of a monthly check I now have an account, that I can’t touch until I am 65 & that the vultures pay the lowest rate of interbank interest on. My 20 years of service was worth $18,000 – the vultures got (literally) a billion plus and now use the pension fund as a low cost loan fund to destroy other companies.

  47. Wow, John. Now I don’t feel so bad. Back in Hawaii it was always so acceptable to eat things like rice topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg and covered with a ladle-full of gravy. Or spam in a variety of ‘recipes’. That also applied to things like Twinkies. I love Twinkies. Then I moved to Seattle ages ago and was quickly brought to task for my ignorant ways. Years and years of peer pressure followed. The Horror.

    But no more. I’m going out after work today, and getting me a box of Twinkies. Seattle be damned.

  48. I consumed my fair share of Twinkies as a pre-teen (maybe more than my fair share). During high school, though, I learned to really cook, and became more familiar with foods with real taste. Some of these foods were just as bad for me as any Hostess product, but they were real food – chocolate truffles, a wide variety of cakes and pies… and my late husband’s preference for birthday cake – a cheesecake I used to make with three pounds of cream cheese and 10 eggs. Not to mention the things that were better for me – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, After learning to cook (and eat) this way, I tried a Twinkie again, and could not finish it.

    So, I regret the loss of jobs, but I will not miss the products..

  49. Twinkies were a standard vending machine product when I was in college, back in the days when we had to walk uphill both ways through the snow to get to the computer lab so we could spend the night using keypunches instead of sleeping. My wife could tolerate the things; I really couldn’t, and the need for food in the middle of the night that wasn’t as bad as Twinkies helped get me to start eating yogurt. This was back when Dannon came in waxed cardboard containers instead of plastic (not as durable, but ecologically much more friendly), and was less gelatiny so you could shake up the fruit-at-the-bottom type and drink it when there weren’t any spoons available. (The usual lack of spoons also interfered with making cup-of-ramen, the other standard indestructable vending machine food. Microwave ovens existed, but weren’t common yet, so vending machine burritos didn’t exist, and you made the ramen with hot water from the coffee machine.)

    Rumors in the press say that Bimbo Bread, the Mexican bakery chain, is likely to buy at least some part of Hostess, and that Twinkies will survive.

  50. Bimbo tried buying Hostess a couple of years back for around 600 million…looks like they’ll get it for a lot less…

    Dav

  51. I find it interesting how people are collectively loosing their minds about this. Yodels and Zingers are still available, even when Drakes and Dolly Madison became just empty shells. The twinkie brand name has such cachet that International Bakeries changed their name to Hostess to reflect it. Will Hostess survive this? Likely not. But they Twinkie food and brand will come through just fine.

  52. I do know that Weston’s makes Wonder Bread up this side of the border, so that’ll still be around for a while (or do they license the name from Hostess?). Probably their biggest competitor here is Dempster’s, which offers a much wider variety of breads. Having grown up in NYC, my absolute favorite bread is rye with caraway seeds, but that’s almost impossible to find in the stores here, and VERY expensive if you do stumble across it.

    As for Twinkies, which I haven’t tasted since I was a kid … someone here mentioned that Weston’s is the source of all Canadian “Hostess” products, which surprised me. Back when I saw the first news article about the Hostess situation, I thought it had said that our Twinkies come from some relatively little outfit in Quebec. Won’t miss ‘em regardless … my personal favorite “junk” pseudo-pastry these days is Jos. & Louis.

  53. Tuesday was “Ding Dong Day” when I was in Kindergarten. On Tuesdays, instead of our mother picking us up from school, my brother and I went home with the teacher, Mrs. Childers. (No, I didn’t make up the name.) She would give us Ding Dongs as a snack.

    At that time, in 1970, Ding Dongs were individually wrapped in aluminum foil. For decades now, they come in little plastic pouches. I mourned the loss of Ding Dongs a long time ago.

    One of my earliest memories is of eating Lemon Coolers when I was three. They were light shortbread cookies coated in lemon-flavored powered sugar. I re-discovered them in the late 1980s (made by Sunshine), but haven’t seen them for a while.

  54. Mehh.
    I’ve made better and worse.
    Mostly better.
    I haven’t (what never? well, hardly ever) made worse since I was fifteen.

  55. I recently read an article at The Christian Science Monitor that talked about
    sugar subsidy supporters versus union supporters.
    IIRC, the article asked whether the sugar subsidies/tariffs that the USA has
    were significantly problematic to that company and did not seem to answer.
    (Note to self: Headline that asks a Q. may remind me of some background
    info, but is not worth effort of a click.)
    I will not try find out whether the country (USA) that has the highest sugar
    prices actually does, and, if so, whether that matters in this particular insol-
    vency.

    Because, well, they use they same cake mix I can buy at any store to make
    their cupcakes.
    To make a better cupcake from the cake mix than they do, just follow the
    directions on the box.

  56. It’s only a matter of time until gangs of post-apocalyptic marauders are trying to kill Mel Gibson to get his Twinkies…What? I can dream!

  57. I think every Twinkie ever made but not yet eaten will probably last until the apocalypse – these things do not go bad or spoil. If you are the “end-of-the-world” type, be sure to pack plenty of them in your survival kit.

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