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Is the Death of the Twinkie Near...Again?

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 10:06am
Kari Imberg, Associate Editor, Food Manufacturing

Nearly thirteen months after Twinkies made their celebrated comeback to store shelves, one of the four bakeries that make the cream-filled treat is closing its doors.

Hostess Brands announced the closure of its Schiller Park bakery, where the iconic Twinkie, and other popular sweets, have been produced for 84 years.

The bakery — located just outside of Chicago — is set to close in October, putting nearly 400 employees out of work and taking a piece of American baking history with it.

The company shut down all of its plants after it filed for bankruptcy in 2012, but the Chicago bakery was of the few that reopened in 2013.

After a hiatus of nearly 8 months, the snack cake — along with other beloved favorites including Ding Dongs and Ho Hos — were put back on the shelves of stores across the U.S.

But as all good things come to an end, so too did the Twinkie.

Hostess Brands CEO Bill Toler said the company is closing the plant due to the accelerated competition.

"While the old Hostess company was in bankruptcy, many competitors took over the shelves and are tenaciously defending their business. Thus, we must be highly efficient and technologically advanced to compete."

With so many options out there today, consumers seem to be turning to healthier options — and quite frankly, the Twinkie isn’t among them.

In just two Twinkies, there are 270 calories — a touch more than your average bottle of soda.

Donald Woods, president of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 1 said he was stunned by the news.

"They were working like 12 hours, six days a week, and they were looking for this plant to be a part of their future."

Woods added that the workers voted in May to rejoin the union and had been told the company planned to keep the plant open long term.

With rivals ready to claim ground lost by Twinkies, I can’t help but wonder if this is the start to a new trend. The first push in a domino effect, if you will.

During the hiatus, competitors introduced knock-offs that appear to be hurting Twinkie sales.

Some of the cake’s competitors include Golden Sponge Cake, Little Debbie Cloud Cakes, WalMart’s Golden Crème Cakes and Nice! sponge cakes at Walgreens.

Compared with the Twinkie’s per-cake price of about 68 cents, they are between 5 to 50 percent cheaper.

 Some customers have even pointed out that the snack has gotten smaller from Hostess’s pre-bankruptcy days. A box of Twinkies is now 13.5 oz. — down from the 15 oz. boxes of guilty pleasure from before.

With so many obstacles working against Twinkie’s re-birth, can the sponge-caked goodness really compete?

From healthier options with more natural ingredients, to bigger and cheaper alternatives, the time may be near to say our final farewells to the 1930 snack that started it all.

As for the other Hostess plants? The facilities in Columbus, Ga., Emporia, Ka. and Indianapolis remain open.

What do you think? Are Twinkies doomed to meet their fate? Let me know by commenting below or reaching out to me at Kari.Imberg@advantagemedia.com

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