Now That’s The Stuff…Bankruptcy

18 Nov

Courtesy of Wafflewhiffer Flickr

The recent news about Hostess filing for bankruptcy has halted Twinkie manufacturing and Wonder Bread delivery trucks. It has allowed discounted prices at grocers. It has also made me think about what this means for snack foods and 90s kids everywhere.

Just watch this clip, and tell me you’re not feeling a little sorry when the Twinkie gets crushed. Regardless of the health-food pushes, the internet rumors about preservatives, the Twinkie is still what grew up (and rounder) with.

What does Hostess mean to us? It was the treat after lunch, a shrink-wrapped, cream-filled sweet that taught us how to barter with friends. A few years later, we cracked jokes about living forever by eating preservative-loaded snacks. Even if they’re pulled from production, we’ll be able to enjoy Hostess snacks for a few more decades, or so we’d believe. In a health-obsessed food world, we’ve come to avoid them outright, which may play a big role in a bankruptcy filing that started in January.

Unions have been on strike for the baking and confectionery division, and mounting debt has squeezed the cream of the company dry. Unable to provide more benefits for the workers, pay cuts started discontent with the unions. Meanwhile, the executive end boosted its compensation, until Hostess arrived at a business model less sustainable than the snacks it makes.

Bich Minh Nguyen calls Twinkies a “symbol of American indulgence” in a New York Times op-ed. Besides the sugar and calories, maybe the system behind production is just as indulgent.

This bankruptcy is symbolic of far more things. As our school lunch programs are changing, what’s ending up on the bartering table aren’t Ding-Dongs or Sno-Balls. We’re seeing fruits and vegetables (pizza included). We’re seeing whole grains instead of unbleached white flour. On the business side, we’re not seeing less disparity between executive and employee. There’s shifts across all aspects of American life, and Hostess Snacks just don’t fit anymore. We’ve changed, and the junk food icons we have are now in a different light. They’re certainly not nutritious or indicative of where our culture is now, but now they represent a bit of nostalgia.

So where do you go from here to find a three-holed, vanilla-cream filled treat? Perhaps just in your memories.


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