Final Word

By Jeff Girod

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Posted November 21, 2012 in News
There’s a hole in my heart—like someone sucked out all the cream filling.

After 82 years, Hostess is going out of business. One of the largest wholesale bakers of breads and snack cakes, Hostess filed for bankruptcy on Friday. More importantly, all production immediately stopped at its 33 plants.

Let the sugar-induced panic begin!

A spot-check of six Riverside supermarkets turned up not a single Twinkie, according to The Press-Enterprise. And the Hostess Bakery Thrift Store in Riverside is already sporting a sign on the front door reading, “Sorry, We’re Closed.”

As of Sunday night, there were more than 21,000 listings for Twinkies on eBay. One buyer was offering 10 Twinkies for $500. (There were no bids.) Others were taking things less seriously. One listing advertised a box of Twinkies for the rock bottom, buy-it-now price of $10,000 with the description, “50% to Benefit Homeless Dachshunds.”

By themselves, Twinkies have brought in $68 million in revenue for Hostess this year alone, according to The Associated Press. So it’s likely that the brand will be sold off and happily manufactured by another company.

That’s all well and good for Twinkie lovers. But Hostess used to make several snack treats. What about Snow Balls, Chocodiles, Suzy Qs, Zingers, Ho Hos, not to mention its entire line of chocolate and orange cupcakes, coffee cakes, streusel cakes, fruit pies, raspberry-filled donuts and even Banana Twinkies?

Can anyone assure us that each and every brand will survive? Because each one is like a cream-filled, frosting covered gooey little baby and nobody says, “Good news! We saved one-fifteenth of your family. Isn’t that wonderful?”

I’m not sure I’ve ever tasted a Banana Twinkie, but they’re part of my childhood. They’re part of millions of childhoods across multiple generations. And it was comforting to all of us just imagining them there, gathering dust on some distant grocery shelf—with a 2036 expiration date—waiting for whatever next impulse buy that may strike at 2 in the morning or 4 in the afternoon.

This is not just about the death of a snack food company. This is about another crack in our American psyche.

You want to raise gasoline to $5 a gallon? Sure, we can take it, I guess. You want to lay off more than one-tenth of our work force and kick several more out of our homes? It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. Tough, hard working people always find ways to survive.

But don’t take away Hostess. Not them. Not now. It’s a low blow. It’s like a punch to our flabby, frosting-lovin‘’ gut.

Hostess is different. Who can’t instantly recall the Twinkie guy with the cowboy hat and the lasso? Hell, I don’t even know the names and faces of half of my cousins’ kids. Hostess is in our DNA. (It’s why half of us are on cholesterol and blood pressure medication.)

In January, Hostess also filed for bankruptcy protection. At the time it blamed expensive employee pension plans, health and welfare costs and a need to modernize production. How much would it take to make Hostess profitable again? $50 million? $200 million? The Los Angeles Dodgers spend more than that on its outfielders.

Whatever it takes, just save Hostess. That’s it. That’s all we’re asking.

How much tax money has our government wasted on bailouts in recent years? For what? A bunch of inept and greedy bank and car companies that a) I despise b) I have no sympathy for or c) I didn’t know existed until they almost didn’t?

This isn’t about profits and margin calls, or even bombs and tanks and ammo. This is about something even more important: Comfort food for a nation in desperate need of comfort.

And even if most of the major Hostess brands survive, we will have failed if someday I’m unpeeling a Ding Dong wrapped in a Nabisco label

Not that my future-self won’t eat that Ding Dong. Holy crap, I’d eat that Ding Dong if it were lead-based and produced by four-fingered 5-year-olds working in a Chinese sweatshop.

I can taste that Ding Dong right now. (Actually, that’s probably the last Ding Dong I ate. They tend to stay with you awhile.)

Contact Jeff Girod at finalword@ieweekly.com.


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