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The Bankruptcy of Hostess Twinkies

Updated on November 27, 2012

Growing up in Brooklyn, NY, I was one of four children that became first born Americans to immigrant parents from Sweden. My mother was always health conscious and didn't approve of treats, candy or gum, and quickly removed it from our pockets and proceeded to replace it with an apple, orange or banana. Somehow, it just wasn't the same, and sweets and cakes in our home were few and far between.

Of course, my father would agree with her strong ideals in the physical health of the children-- until he'd take us for a walk to the local drug store. Standing at the cash register,my father would hand each of us a golden yellow cake wrapped in cellophane, and it "crinkled" with excitement in our hands. Promptly, he'd bend over his tiny brood, raise a finger, and then recite the forbidden Swedish phrase in our house,"Don t berätta för din mamma," (Don't tell your mother). Of course we'd strongly agree with our father's request, since we knew the "wrath of mom" may be upon all of us if she knew we had eaten the scrumptious sponge cake filled with heavenly vanilla cream. On the short walk home, we'd dispose of the evidence, and crumple the wrappers stamped with "Twinkie" in bold red and blue letters-- and toss them into a nearby garbage can with haste. After examining each others faces for the traces of tell-tale Twinkie crumbs, we'd enter the front door and keep our secret pact with our father.


The Secret Pact was Finally Broken

In 2002, my mother experienced a stroke and was ill for several months. Although she never really regained her faculties fully, she had brief periods of lucidity, and sometimes she'd talk to me about my life growing up as her child. One day, I decided to break the rule, and I told her about the secret Twinkie pact between her children and her husband."I knew it," she said with a raised hand in declaration, "I knew he gave you kids candy behind my back!" Shaking her head, she suddenly laughed out loud and sat on the edge of the bed, "I would love a Twinkie, right now, do you have any here?" After retrieving a box of the forbidden Twinkies, we ate and laughed in a euphoric state of sugar and cream. Since my mother died later that year, I often think of the Twinkie party we had, and how it has become one of my favorite memories.

Bankruptcy and Labor Disputes

It seems so strange to see the end of the Twinkie. The American Icon of sponge cake is now bankrupt, and has dismissed 18,500 employees that once cooked, packaged, and transported them to the stores that were once worthy of a mother's betrayal. Since labor relations and the union cannot reach an agreement with salaries and workers compensation, the Hostess Company decided to close its doors. Its hard to believe a company can fail that cranks out 500 million products a year to meet the steady and ever increasing demands of its public and fans.

The Birth of the Twinkie

Born into a new world of its own in 1931, the Twinkie evolved in a factory that made strawberry shortcake fingers in the summer, when strawberries were plentiful and economical. The plant manager of the Hostess Company, James Dewar,wanted to find a use for the shortbread pans that were being stored for the long winter months. After tinkering around with various prototypes of cakes, he decided on a golden sponge cake filled with banana cream, and the Twinkie was born. During the depression, the 5 cent treat fed a lot of people, it didn't need refrigeration, and it was individually wrapped for portability.


World War ll and the Evolution of the Twinkie

Due to rations and food shortages during the second world war, Hostess was forced to change the banana filling to a fluffy vanilla center. Although promised to return the Twinkie to its former state after the war, the vanilla flavor became so popular that they didn't return to the banana filling until years later. In 2007, the Hostess Company offered the banana cream Twinkie as a promotional part of the "King Kong" movie. A spike in sales showed that people were once again ready for the banana flavored Twinkies, and Hostess began to offer both vanilla and banana cream fillings.

Timeline of the Hostess Twinkie

Twinkie Timeline
The Evolution of the Twinkie
Changes in Hostess
1931:James Dewar invents the Twinkie
Tired of storing pans used in the summer months, James Dewar invents the sponge cake with banana cream filling
The factory becomes the maker of Twinkies year round
1941: Hostess changes to the Twinkie
A rationing of bananas forces Hostess to use a vanilla cream center
The vanilla filling is so popular that Hostess never went back to the banana cream
2007: Hostess brings back the banana cream Twinkie as a "King Kong" movie promotion
The banana cream Twinkie is a hit
Hostess offers Twinkies with banana and vanilla cream
2012: Hostess files bankruptcy
After mismanagement and unsuccessful union negotiations, Hostess announces bankruptcy
Over 18.000 union workers lose their jobs, and several companies attempt but fail to buy the Hostess division

End of an Era: Goodbye Twinkies

The Mother of Invention

James Dewar, the inventor of the Twinkie, died in 1985 at the age of 88. According to the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest, Mr. Twinkie, as he was known, ate a minimum of three of his inventions a day until his death. Its a strange twist of fate that my mother would practice such good health and die at 64 years of age, and Mr. Twinkie would indulge daily in the forbidden sweet cakes and live to the age of 88. One could argue that my mom might have died even younger if she'd not taken such good care of herself, or that it was just her destiny of time that could not be negotiated by any means. My father, an honorary "Mr. Twinkie," continues to eat the worst foods and lives on unscathed. Still, I remember those days at the drugstore, like some sacred secret between a father and daughter, somehow a trust that created our bond for a lifetime shared between us. I reluctantly say goodbye to the Twinkie, and there are rumors that other companies will buy and take over the Hostess Company division, but I will always have my memories. As William Butler Yeats wrote of growing older and taking "down that book to slowly read," perhaps I'll take down that box of Twinkies, and "slowly eat."


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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, eHealer,

      I loved this hub. And I love, not past tense, Twinkies. They are as American as catsup. I voted up and away on this hub. You are very good. I mean that.

      I cordially invite you to look over a hub or two of mine, then I would love for you to follow me.


      Kenneth/ from northwest Alabama

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hey Action, I am so glad you liked it, it's from the heart.

    • actionbronson profile image

      actionbronson 5 years ago

      It's a shame that there were so many jobs lost during these times. This one was written very nicely. Great read

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hello Jen, so nice to see you. Thank you so much for your kind words and yes, are world is always evolving. Thanks for reading my hub and I will see you soon at yours!

    • Jen Card profile image

      Jen Card 5 years ago

      What a wonderful hub and great read! Thank you for sharing the very touching memory of you and your Mother, that was just so wonderful. The Twinkie icon has closed its it is a change of the times, health and wealth both factors of the transformations we all are witness to in our evolving world.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Rajan, thanks for taking the journey with me. I am so glad you liked it. Thanks for sharing! See you soon my friend,


    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Deborah it was nice walking with you back in time. Moms certainly would like us children to eat healthy, won't they? Great read and it is sad that Hostess has downed its shutters.

      Voted up, interesting and sharing.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      I tasted the banana filled twinkie and am not a fan, I like the vanilla. Thanks for visiting my hubs and yes, the loss of all those jobs is just sickening, especially right now.

    • tipstoretireearly profile image

      tipstoretireearly 5 years ago from New York

      The banana-filled Twinkies must have been fabulous! Interesting history of this iconic American treat. And very sad that labor and management couldn't work together to save it (and its 18,500 jobs).

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Jelly, I would love that recipe! You know I can't cook, it's just not in my DNA, but I could learn that recipe! Thanks Jelly!

    • jellygator profile image

      jellygator 5 years ago from USA

      I think the company will be purchased, but if it doesn't, send me a message if you want the recipe for 'em, eHealer! I'll have to dig it up, but I've got it here somewhere.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hi Eddy, thank you for voting me up and making me interesting. Always nice to see you!

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      I know Chris, everyone is stocking up on Twinkies now and not a one in site! I hope someone buys the company and continues making them the old fashioned way, with an oven! I don't care for Zingers, Snowballs and pies aren't my cup of tea. I love sharing my experiences with you. Thank you for your kind comments.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hey Glimmer, that is very interesting. You know, it could have been related. The missionaries in Africa stopped giving the children sugar products because it made them very sick, they were not used to processing the ingredients. Maybe you had a similar issue, who knows for sure. Thanks for stopping buy!

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Yes, Mhatter, that is true. One of the foods on a list that will feed the survivors after a holucaust is the Twinkie!

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hi Spartucusjones, I imagine someone will buy it the license. There is talk in Mexico, China and even Germany. I wonder who will be the maker of twinkies in the new world!

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hey, Kathleen, a thousand years! We could keep them forever, what a great fact. I'm thinking they want to go into bankruptcy, it just doesn't seem possible that they may go out of business. It's a big and well known name. Thanks for your great comments!

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      How funny Rolly, I never thought of cooking my own! I'm not a good cook, but perhaps we need to post a "Twinkie Recipe" on the hubs! Great idea and thanks for your great comments.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Epigramman, you have given me the greatest compliment of my life. I truly value your opinion and you are the best in my book. I was compelled to to write this hub, my memories were getting the best of me, so I did what I always do, express my feelings in words, that's all. Thank you so much for supporting my work and giving me a huge vote of confidence. I look so forward to continuing to read your great work. Your friend and admirer, Deb

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 5 years ago

      ....this has to be the definitive Twinkie hub presentation of all time and will be posted as a link to the Hubpages FB group - love the way you write and I consider you such an esteemed colleague as a writer - you can write on any subject you wish and you always come off as an expert and so well read on each one. Your research is world class and you are one of the best writers here at the Hub. No question on that.

      Sending you warm wishes and good thoughts from lake erie time 2:10pm

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      A wonderful read and I vote up plus interesting.


    • ChrisMcDade8 profile image

      Christine McDade 5 years ago from Southwest Florida

      Funny hub, and interesting. I was traveling this past weekend when I heard about the company's woes. In disbelief, I shrugged off the possibility that the Twinkie would be no more. However, quick stops at the various gas stations to fuel up gave me a glimpse of the empty Twinkie shelf. There were a few Zingers, Snowballs, and pies, but no Twinkies. It made me want one! The sad part, however, will also be those folks who lose their jobs. Thanks for sharing some insight about this well known treat as well as your own experience enjoying them.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      Funny and interesting and I love the story with your mother. Never cared for Twinkies, but loved ho hos and like your mom, my mother never allowed these things in our house. When I was about 11, she surprised me with a ho ho one afternoon and I promptly had my appendix out that night. I've never eaten one since and she's never bought one since. Of course the correlation was never proved (LOL) but the damage was done. Voted up and shared.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Ironic, that this should happen to the one creation of man that was supposed to survive the "great nuclear Holocaust" (an old joke).

    • spartucusjones profile image

      CJ Baker 5 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Thanks for sharing the touching personal story! I am sure that someone will buy the rights of the Twinkie name. It is such an iconic product that I don't see it permanently dieing off.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I plan to stock up because they have a shelf-life of a thousand years. You know, if Hostess sold the rights to Twinkies and the chocolate cup cake with the squiggles, they could probably avoid bankruptcy!

      Thanks for sharing your memories. It's funny what you remember.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi eHealer... what a great story about your mom... we do miss them do we not.

      Twinkie's never made it big here in Canada like they did in the US. I travelled and worked throughout the South East and South in the 80's and they were on ever shelf in any store that sold anything.

      Everyone will need to learn to cook their own now...

      Hugs from Canada

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hello, Jackie, thanks for sharing your thoughts with me, yes, they never really leave us. I had no idea that twinkies may be sold for thousands, probably on eBay no doubt! I believe they will be bought by another company, people won't let the twinkie go away, I hope!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I heard today that people are selling Twinkies for thousands of dollars. Hard to believe but it wouldn't surprise me!

      Lovely story with your mom. I have lost mine too and there seem to be many food memories. They never really leave us.