Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: xeni@boingboing.net.

103 Responses to “Twinkies maker Hostess goes belly up”

  1. RedShirt77 says:

    I am sure Tastykake will buy up the rights to the products.

    http://youtu.be/rW2psN1EHSU

  2. xzzy says:

    Twinkies ain’t going anywhere. The brand will be bought up by some other company and soggy cake filled with mystery goo will continue to fester on the shelves of convenience stores.

    I think the real story is about the 18,000 unionized workers losing their jobs, and how their jobs will be replaced by non-unionized workers who are given no benefits whatsoever.

    • K. Williams says:

      I have little sympathy for them.  If they wanted to keep their jobs they should’ve played ball with the company.  Instead they played chicken, and Hostess wound up winning.

      • Lexicat says:

         You have a strange notion of “winning.”

      • Tarliman says:

        Are you willing to reduce your pay to a starvation wage and lose medical insurance for your children to keep your job? Your reply shows a failure to grasp the situation. Hostess also lost, in case you missed the part about bankruptcy and ceasing operations. Hostess should have trimmed their executives’ salaries and bonus structures. There’s plenty of fat there in most corporations. Not every CEO is Lee Iacocca.

        • Brainspore says:

          Are you willing to reduce your pay to a starvation wage and lose medical insurance for your children to keep your job?

          What do you mean, “starvation wage?” Those lucky bastards were allowed to have all the sugary cake-like product they could eat!

          • SomeGuyNamedMark says:

             Plus a free annual angioplasty!

          • niktemadur says:

            Nope, that angioplasty fringe benefit obligation is what made the poor CEO decide between keeping the company afloat or selling his $30 million yacht.  It seems he went for Romney and the yacht.

        • TacoChuck says:

          To keep your job? You mean keep the 1 percenters in yachts and mansions.

          They intended to close this place down after they extracted every ounce of cash they could regardless of if the workers capitulated or not.

          And do not forget the unions already capitulated once when the corporate scum filed bankruptcy to screw the creditors and suppliers the first time. This is time number two of that game.

      • ChicagoD says:

        No. Whether they played ball or not the company had more fundamental issues. It was going to pay its executives a few more times on the workers’ backs, that’s all.

        • Navin_Johnson says:

           Yep. 300% pay raise for the CEO while preparing to file bankruptcy…  plus numerous other insane raises for top executives.

          • Navin_Johnson says:

             Love the way the market rewards failure and incompetence.

          • SumAnon says:

            Yup.
            That’s from a WSJ article, for any doubters. Evidently their creditors were pissed that they gave their CEO an almost 2M boost while the company was still in debt.

            http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304072004577323993512506050.html

          • whiznat says:

            I couldn’t read the article because it is behind a paywall. However, I did find this statistic in the article from SocialistWorker posted below. It said those raises were in 2002, ten years ago. A number that old doesn’t really support the case to blame management. 

            I will say that if I were given a choice between 92% of my wages and 0%, I would take 92%. On the other hand, perhaps the problem is the union leadership. The only way they get to stay in power is if they get a better deal. So they are out regardless if the workers get 92% or 0%. They only win if they get >92%. So as far as I can see, they are the only ones who benefit by refusing to deal.

          • wysinwyg says:

            A number that old doesn’t really support the case to blame management.

            It gives some indication of the motivation, here.  It suggests that Hostess executives have been in the process of gutting the company and making themselves as much money as possible in the process.

            I will say that if I were given a choice between 92% of my wages and 0%, I would take 92%.

            How many times?  Do it twice and you’re at 84%.  Three times and you’re at 78%.  Five times and you’re down to about 65%.  This is what people mean when they insist unions need to “compromise”.

          • SumAnon says:

            I think you replied to the wrong person, but good points!

          • wysinwyg says:

            Disqus configuration here prevents replies after 5 nested comments.  I just replied to the last comment with a reply button.

          • Navin_Johnson says:

            @boingboing-a499e4f422ca5221dc841c2b82014598:disqus

            It was last year: July 2011

            Last July, the court documents said, the compensation committee of Hostess’s board approved an increase in then-chief executive Brian Driscoll’s salary from to $2.55 million from around $750,000. The company had hired restructuring lawyers in March 2011, the creditors said, and filed for bankruptcy protection on Jan. 11.

            The court papers also cited the report of a Hostess compensation consultant saying that after a bankruptcy filing the company should tie payments to company performance and wrap them into an incentive plan.

            Hostess “disregarded” the suggestion, the creditors said, and also failed to disclose the modifications. The creditors learned of the changes during a February deposition of the human resources executive.

            At that point, the creditors said, they sought more information about the compensation questions but Hostess “refused to cooperate.”

            I guess this is the same link but I was able to find a cached version

            Creditors Say Hostess Pay Is Questionable”

            Ok, Teamsters have a copy of the same WSJ article:

            http://www.teamster.org/content/dow-jones-uncovers-alleged-looting-hostess-amid-talk-%E2%80%98shared-sacrifice%E2%80%99-execs

          • SumAnon says:

            Taken from a screen cap of the WSJ article.

        • Substance McGravitas says:

           Quite right.

          Even as it played the numbers game, Hostess had to face chaos in the corner office at the worst possible time. Driscoll, the CEO, departed suddenly and without explanation in March. It may have been that the Teamsters no longer felt it could trust him. In early February, Hostess had asked the bankruptcy judge to approve a sweet new employment deal for Driscoll. Its terms guaranteed him a base annual salary of $1.5 million, plus cash incentives and “long-term incentive” compensation of up to $2 million. If Hostess liquidated or Driscoll were fired without cause, he’d still get severance pay of $1.95 million as long as he honored a noncompete agreement.

      • Jed Stevens says:

        Earlier this year, while they were in negotiations with the unions, Hostess filed for permission to reject a lot of labor contracts to avoid bankruptcy… and the federal judge actually denied them permission, saying that the workers had identified legit issues with how the company is run. From everything I’ve heard, the execs had recently gotten bonuses that outweighed the pay cuts they were trying to stick the workers with, but I can’t find confirmation of that bit. The settlement was oversaw by Judge Robert Drain, if you want to Google around for it.

      • Funk Daddy says:

        The company never negotiated with the intent to stay in business or operate its bakeries. For the workers the negotiation was about operating bakeries, for the company execs it was about limiting liability in an upcoming liquidation of assets and profiting via brand licensing sans workforce.

      • Michael Langford says:

        No, they shouldn’t have kept their job and lost their medical benefits on these terms. Look at the remarks of judges in the case. Hostess is trying to pull a fast one here and protect their ass. Not really negotiate a real contract.

      • Christopher says:

        Are you interested in discussing this intelligently, or are you just going to repeat what the Tea Party told you to say?

      • hanslucas says:

        Those workers knew what they were doing. Here’s a short article about their situation and the fight they were waging against a very greedy company. 

        http://socialistworker.org/2012/11/15/hostess-workers-draw-a-line

      • RedShirt77 says:

         Yeah, If you can’t pay a living wage, you should be put out of business.  Its not like this was some start-up just trying to get out of the gate.

      • TacoChuck says:

         This is just typical vulture capitalism.

        Hedge funds bought the company, loaded it with debt to repay the 1 percenters and are now selling off the corpse and union busting all in one smooth move.

        Please read and learn instead of playing into the hands of those that would pit workers against workers.

        http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2012/07/26/hostess-twinkies-bankrupt/

        http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/16/1162235/-Private-equity-owned-Hostess-blames-striking-workers-as-it-liquidates

      • Cowicide says:

        If they wanted to keep their jobs they should’ve played ball with the company.

        You might want to expand your monolithic info diet beyond the mainstream, corporatist media that wants Americans (who can’t critically think their way out of a wet paper bag) to believe this was purely the fault of dreaded unions.

        Hostess was wrecked by corporatists like Mitt Romney who came in during the 90′s and it went downhill from there.

      • blueelm says:

        Yes. That poor company. Won’t somebody think of them! It’s not like it isn’t the job of other people in the company to manage and budget, or to set the climate of the workplace. Oh no! NO! GOD NO THAT SOUNDS LIKE WOOOOORK! Only poor slobs on a shop floor do work! 

        I have no sympathy for people who can’t run their companies. How’s that?

      • Mark Morey says:

        Sorry about the election, pal.

      • Martijn says:

        If your boss said: “I’m going to give myself a 70% raise, and you all need to accept 8% less pay”, would you play ball to save your job?

        From what I heard, that’s pretty much what happened.

  3. bzishi says:

    This finally explains why it was so hard to find a Twinkie in the Zombieland movie.

  4. sisyphus321 says:

    This news just makes Woody Harrelson’s role in Zombieland seem so much more poignant. 

  5. capnmarrrrk says:

    What are obese hillbillies going to deep-fat fry now? Oh wait, everything.

    • plyx says:

       Nice stereotypical bigotry. I’ll bet you’re a emaciated urbanite that steam-cooks everything.

      • capnmarrrrk says:

        I’ve had deep fried Twinkie’s once. They were delicious. But I will admit to making a cheap shot at Hillbillies and the deep fat-fried food state fairs. There is a connection between, obesity, diabetes, and eating habits in the South where said Hillbillies live. http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/health/2012/11/16/diabetes-rates-skyrocket-in-south-reveals-cdc-study/ I’m sorry if you were offended.

        • Cowicide says:

          I’m sorry if you were offended.

          Some people are just uncomfortable with facts they don’t like.  I liked your comment.

        • blueelm says:

          It’s ok. I’m pretty sure hillbillies don’t eat that way. It’s hard to get down out of the holler to go to the state fair. You’re thinking of rednecks and people from Dallas.

      • niktemadur says:

        My mind is still stuck with an outdated stereotype where emaciated urbanites go for nouvelle cuisine and fruit-flavored Chardonnays.

    • SomeGuyNamedMark says:

      Even my 14 yr old niece from Mississippi when asked who would eat a deep fried twinkie said without a moment’s pause, “fat people” (fill in her very cute southern accent).

  6. dnebdal says:

    I seem to remember that twinkies actually have a fairly short shelf-life, on the order of a couple of weeks at most?
    (And I’ve never seen one; not even the box. Wrong continent etc.)

  7. rocketpjs says:

    They will reappear, without the unionized workers but with some or all of the same owners/managers in another company that will make most of the same products.

    Looks more like a union breaking move to me. 

    • ChicagoD says:

      Ha ha ha ha. Yeah. That’s totally the rotation of Twinkies at the average off-brand convenience store. Ha ha ha ha ha.

  8. archanoid says:

    Here’s an interesting article from Fortune Magazine about the company’s woes since the first bankruptcy in 2004…

    http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2012/07/26/hostess-twinkies-bankrupt/?iid=EL

  9. Lexicat says:

    The list of Hostess’ product names reminds me of the Hot Head Paisan Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist cartoon in which a display shelf lists off:

    Twinkies!
    Snowballs!
    Ho-Hos!
    Ding-Dongs!
    Vaginas!

  10. knoxblox says:

    Well, until somebody buys the label, I’m stocking up on Ding Dongs.

    • Cowicide says:

      I’m stocking up on Ding Dongs.

      Too late.  Most of the top executive ding dongs have already scurried out the back door with any money they could grab.

  11. Cicada Mania says:

    My guess is that Groupo Bimbo will buy the brand. They already own brands like Entenmann’s and they manufacture Wonderbread in Mexico.

  12. mack says:

    Dammitall, now I can’t enjoy my beloved Orange Cupcakes any longer – not because they won’t be available, but because they’ll only be available from union-busting opportunists.

    Politics or delicacies? Decisions, decisions …

  13. That_Anonymous_Coward says:

    They sell sugary crap in ‘Merika… and couldn’t be profitable?
    How does that work?

  14. chgoliz says:

    One of the snootiest cupcake boutiques in downtown Chicago offers a signature cupcake with their name on it; when asked to describe it, they’ll tell you it’s basically a Hostess cupcake, except with with perishable ingredients.

    • Matt L says:

      Cupcake boutique? Pheh. Liz Lemon taught me that when it comes to cupcakes, don’t overthink it. Sara Lee. Frozen. Unbelievable!

      After typing that, I had a moment of panic where I realized it’s possible that Hostess might own Sara Lee. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Phew.

  15. t3kna2007 says:

    And just when we were making good progress on the cannabinoid front, we take a serious hit to the munchies.  What a world.

  16. This was the greatest hour in the history of twinkies:
    http://www.twinkiesproject.com/

  17. SomeGuyNamedMark says:

    I am shocked (shocked I tells ya!) that a company owned by a group of investors with a strong background in baking and the food industry, such as the hedge funds Silver Point Capital and Monarch Alternative Capital, would end up driving the company into the ground.

  18. oschene says:

    If the number of Twinkies is finite and shrinking, could we use them like Bitcoins?

  19. regeya says:

    I live in the Land of Lincoln, in an area that used to be heavily dependent upon coal, and it’s amazing how much herp and derp about unions and Obama are on the local TV station’s news item about Hostess.

    I worked at a fairly conservative newspaper that was right next to a Hostess distributor.  I remember them being closed in 2007, and I don’t remember any of their workers looking all that well-to-do.  Well, that, and we shared a parking lot, and I remember there was a semi driver that would, no matter where I would park my Insight, would come within a foot of my car.  Every time.  I never did get a chance to ask him why he had a gripe with me saving money on gas.

  20. acerplatanoides says:

    Someone call Twinkie the Kid!

  21. If I understand correctly, they’ll still be available in Canada, where they’re made by Saputo (formerly Vachon Cakes), who make such made-in-Canada snack cakes as Mae West and Jos. Louis. So  come north. 

    • ashypete says:

      I believe that is correct but I don’t think we have as near the Hostess snack penetration as we do with the Vachon cakes. But I’ll admit bias as my house was a staunch Vachon stronghold.We call them Grandpa’s medicine (along with Map-o-spread and those peanut butter Pirate cookies) and my son only sees them when we go to my parent’s place.

  22. franko says:

    i won’t miss most of their products, but i shed tears for their fruit pies. :’ (

  23. amuseamuse says:

    Here’s the contact information for the three vulture companies that killed Hostess and ruined the lives of 18000 employees for short-term gain, in case anyone is interested.

    Ripplewood Holdings:
    Address: 1 Rockefeller Plaza, 32nd. Fl.New York, NY 10020
    Phone: 212-582-6700
    Fax: 212-582-4110

    Silver Point Capital:Two Greenwich Plaza
    Greenwich, CT 06830
    Tel: 203-542-4230
    Email: info@silverpointcapital.com
    Monarch Alternative Capital:
    535 Madison Avenue

    New York, NY 10022

    T. 212.554.1700
    F. 212.554.1701
    E. info@monarchlp.com

  24. Aaggh. I don’t want to link to it directly, because spam, but in my podcast (4 episodes in) I’ve been reviewing Hostess cakes. What can I do now? If only there were other snacks to review.
    (I never said it was original btw)

    • ashypete says:

       As was mentioned above, they still make them in Canada. I’m sure there will be people who would be happy to ship them to you.

  25. BunnyShank says:

    so glad I caved into that craving for a twinkie last year

  26. ntsteflonnts says:

    Unfortunately the writing was on the wall in 2004 when they filed bankruptcy the first time.  

    “a matrix of 372 collective-bargaining agreements, a dozen separate unions, 5,500 delivery routes, and no fewer than 40 multi-employer pension plans that are despised by management.”

    With a corporate structure like that, the only real way to overhaul the company would be to blow it up.  Hostess got what it asked for when it agreed to the deals that set up this patch-work.

    My sympathy to the employees who could only watch the whole thing melt around them, and who are now left holding the bag.  Too sad.

  27. BarBarSeven says:

    This will liberate Drake’s cakes! Back to independent Yodels, Ring Dings & Coffee Cakes! 

  28. That_Anonymous_Coward says:

    And now… twinkies are trading for serious amounts on the bay of e…
    WTF is wrong with people.

  29. Al_Packer says:

    Time for Murkins to rediscover the lost art of baking.

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