Hostess Is Shutting Down, But Don't Let the Right Fool You -- The Twinkie Will Live On
Hostess Brands announced this morning that it's over. America's premier snack-cake maker will seek permission from a bankruptcy judge to sell off its assets and lay off its 18,500 employees. This comes after a bitter dispute with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, whose members rejected pay and benefit cuts, then went on strike when the company imposed them anyway.
This particular scenario -- a labor dispute bringing down the maker of the Twinkie -- was just begging for some union bashing, and the right-wing media has delivered. Take this headline from Breitbart, that "Unions May Kill Off the Twinkie," or the article from Red State, which features a union boot poised to squash a couple of Twinkies, with the mustachioed Twinkie the Kid telling us "Yes, It's True. Parasitic Unions Kill Their Hosts (or, in this case, Hostess). Adios, Amigos."
There's no suggestion that, hey, maybe Hostess has done a terrible job of adapting its business to a world in which the Twinkie, larded with fat and sugar, filled with preservatives (and a mysterious substance called "creme"), and devoid of nutritional value, has come to epitomize for many all that is wrong with American food. This is a straightforward case of unions killing off an iconic snack food, the rough equivalent, in an overfed America, of slaughtering puppies for sport.
It's certainly true that BCTGM rejected Hostess' last, best offer, which called for an 8-percent pay cut, 17-percent cut in contributions to employee health plans, smaller pension contributions, and their strike might be the most proximate cause for a Hostess liquidation and the termination of the company's 18,500 employees.
That said, let's put things in perspective: The Twinkie's not going anywhere. The brand, recognizable to every cognizant American, is too valuable; there are any number of private equity firms who love nothing more than a good brand sold on the cheap at a bankruptcy auction.
CNN Money examined what might happen to Hostess back in January. It compares the situation with that of Polaroid, a brand that was auctioned off for $88 million despite its seeming obsolescence, and concludes that "(s)hould Hostess Brands choose to liquidate rather than reorganize, the brand names -- Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread -- will very likely live on."
In other words, no need to stockpile Twinkies -- unless, that is, you plan on riding out the next four years in a fallout shelter. In that case, stockpile away. And you won't need to worry about Obama's second term turning into a permanent Islamo-fascist dictatorship. Those Twinkies will last forever.