Twinkies maker Hostess goes belly up

Hostess Brands Inc, the bankrupt baker of Twinkies, Wonder Bread, Ho-Hos, and Raspberry Zingers, "has sought a U.S. court's permission to go out of business after failing to get wage and benefit cuts from thousands of its striking bakery workers." (Reuters). Brain Braiker tweets: "The finite number of Twinkies that remain have an infinite shelf-life. Wrap your mind around THAT."


    1. Will they also start sponsoring Peanuts holiday specials?  Dolly Madison was a Hostess brand, too.

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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!

          1. 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.

        2. 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.

      2. 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.

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

          1. 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.

          2. 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”.

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

          4. @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:


        2.  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.

      3. 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.

      4. 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.

      5. 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.

      6.  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.

      7.  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.

      8. 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.

      9. 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?

      10. 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.

      1. 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. I’m sorry if you were offended.

        1. I’m sorry if you were offended.

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

        2. 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.

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 My mind is still stuck with an outdated stereotype where emaciated urbanites go for nouvelle cuisine and fruit-flavored Chardonnays.

    1. 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).

  2. 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.)

    1. They have a “sell-by” date of 25 days after production, but since they lack dairy, they’d remain edible, even if hard and brittle, for quite some time afterwards.  (People have eaten decades-old Twinkies, but I suspect the shortening was more than a little rancid by that point.)

    2. IIRC – they don’t have a shelf-life, it’s more like a half-life. Twinkies deserve waaay more respect ;)

    3. true story: in college, we left an unwrapped twinkie on top of our fridge to see how long it would remain soft. turned out to be MONTHS.

  3. 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. 

      1.  Michelle Obama’s childhood obesity initiative could well benefit by the disappearance of Twinkies.

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

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


    1. 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.

      1. I know a guy who refers to pretty yet vapid TV news reporters as news-Twinkies. You can see where this is leading.

    1. Groupo Bimbo

      That should be Grupo Bimbo.
      For a silly giggle, translate Pan Bimbo to English:  Bimbo Bread.

  5. 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 …

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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. 

    1. 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.

    1. “Fruit” pies. I’m more partial to the “custard” versions myself, but hey, variety is the spice of life.

  11. 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
    Monarch Alternative Capital:
    535 Madison Avenue

    New York, NY 10022

    T. 212.554.1700
    F. 212.554.1701

  12. 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)

    1.  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.

  13. 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.

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

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