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Like the snacks themselves, reports of Twinkies’ demise are hard to stomach

Updated: December 20, 2012 6:05AM



Diane Sawyer posted a photo of a pack of Twinkies on her shoulder.

Rob Lowe said if Hostess was going out of business, he was going to go into mourning and wear a black arm band.

At a press conference, the corpulent Chris Christie said, “I’m not answering questions on Twinkies! No, no, no, no, no. It’s bad enough you got me to say the word Twinkie behind this microphone!”

On eBay, entrepreneurs were trying to sell unopened boxes of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Zingers for $40, $50, even $100 apiece. Good luck with that.

Twinkies were trending on Twitter (say that three times fast), with comments ranging from, “We bail out the automakers but not the TWINKIES!” (Damon Lindelof, co-creator of “Lost”), to “First Mitt, now, the Twinkie. Farewell, spongy, bland, artificial remnants of another era” (Comedy Central writer Guy Nicolucci), to “Hostess files for liquidation just as states begin to legalize marijuana. Such tragic irony” (attributed to one “Sarcastic Jefferson.”)

We’ve been hearing about the possible demise of Hostess for months, but as the expiration date approached for the maker of all those iconic snack foods, the media flew into a collective frenzy, as if our very childhood memories were under siege.

From the Los Angeles Times to CBS Pittsburgh to Yahoo News to NBC Chicago to Ottumwa, Iowa, news headlines told us Hostess products were “flying off the shelves,” with consumers rushing out to purchase one last box of Ho Hos or Suzy Q’s or Twinkies.

(An ABC radio report noted at one store, only one Hostess product remained: Zingers. Ah, the poor Zinger. It’s always been the neglected little brother of snack cakes.)

A question for any grown adult who bought a box of Twinkies or Ding Dongs: Did you actually eat one? And if you did, did ya finish it?

Because I sampled a Twinkie and a couple of other Hostess snack cakes the other day in the name of research, and I was reminded of just how synthetically terrible they truly are.

Is the Twinkie really dead?

All this nostalgia over the demise of Hostess ignores the possibility someone will buy the brand name and the formula and start making Twinkies et al. again.

This is not to minimize what happened last Friday, when Hostess Brands announced its plants are closing and some 18,000 workers are losing their jobs.

“[We’ve] been forced by a Bakers Union strike to shut down all operations and sell all company assets,” said CEO Gregory F. Rayburn. “We deeply regret the necessity of today’s decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended national strike.”

This after previous bankruptcies, the shutdowns of other plants and the company warning if employees did not return to work by the end of last Thursday, that would be the death knell. So it wasn’t as if Friday’s shutdown came as a surprise to anyone paying attention.

But is this really the death of the snack cakes that have been a part of American lore for decades, from sponsorship of TV shows in the 1950s to the corny commercials of the ’60s and ’70s through countless mentions in rap lyrics and references in movies such as “Zombieland”? Is the Twinkie truly about to become a thing of the past?

I doubt it. The owner of Pabst Brewing Co., which has made something of a hipster comeback in recent years, says he’s interested. The manufacturer of Tastykakes snacks could make a bid. The Mexican company Gropo Bimbo, the world’s largest bread maker, which once tried to acquire Hostess, may again make a play. Kellogg, which recently bought Pringles, could be a buyer.

Even with all our talk about eating healthy and all the evidence telling us not to ingest foods filled with chemicals and cringe-inducing ingredients (Twinkies contain the synthetic dyes Red 40 and Yellow 5, cellulose gum, high fructose corn syrup and, oh yeah, beef fat), we still eat all that crap. Take a look at what they’re selling at movie theaters, gas stations and convenience stores. Yikes. That’s why it’s hard to believe someone won’t figure out a way to churn out Ding Dongs and Suzy Q’s and make a profit.

We mourn the demise of these treats because it reminds us of a certain time in our lives when we open the lunch box and find a snack cake next to the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We also mourn the demise of the Twinkie because a lot of us are still eating ’em well beyond our after-school snack days.

I believe the Twinkie will rise again. I just don’t think you can kill the Twinkie.



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