Stop reading this and go to the store. Buy all the Twinkies, Ho-Ho's, Ding Dongs, Fruit Pies and chocolate cup cakes with the swirly line of "frosting" on top that you can afford. Take out a loan if you must. Hostess Brands, Inc., a national snacking institution for more than 80 years, is closing its doors for good.
In the midst of bankruptcy following the realization that the company owed more than it was worth earlier this year, maintaining steady production was paramount to the continued existence of the company that's been stuffing our faces with sweet, sweet preservatives for the better part of a century.
Unfortunately the debt that motivated the bankruptcy filing, just shy of a billion dollars, was largely due to archaic benefit and pension programs. Those needed revision, but any attempt to lower benefits was met by resistance from members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union. The issue came to a head earlier this week when, after rejecting a September contract offer that lowered benefits, the Union went on strike.
Loss of production was the last thing Hostess needed. The company warned employees that it would be forced to shut down and liquidate assets if production hadn't resumed by Thursday. It did not, so now the company is closing its doors for good, laying off 18,500 workers and selling off its brands. 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores will be closed.
"We deeply regret the necessity of today's decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike," said Gregory F. Rayburn, chief executive officer via a statement on the company's official wind-down website. "Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders."
I've no doubt that the Hostess brands will continue in some form. Twinkies, Sno-Balls, Ho-Hos, Wonder Bread—these are too important to simply fade away.
My heart goes out to the bakers, drivers and retail employees that have lost their jobs. You were the best part of a snacking legacy that will live long after the last remainders are sold.