Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Goodbye Twinkies, Goodbye

Twinkies are dead at 82 -the world will stand still. Maybe the Mayans were right after all. The world may be ending in December.

The Washington Post wrote an Obituary for our little cream-filled friend. It started:

"Twinkies, the unpretentious, freakishly versatile and seemingly indestructible snack pastry dubbed “the cream puff of the proletariat,” died Friday of complications from economic reality."
Hostess Brands, based in Texas, announced it would shut down production because of a labor dispute.

Twinkies became a lunchtime staple for generations of school children (especially the baby boomers because they took the sting off the bologna sandwich and the dutiful apple).

Also killed in the disaster were Wonder Bread, Ding Dong's (I'm going really to miss those), Hostess Cup Cakes, Ho Ho's, and Zingers.

Twinkies even became a notorious footnote in the country’s judicial system. Who can forget the famous “Twinkie Defense”? An attorney for San Francisco Supervisor Dan White argued in 1979 that his client should not be convicted of first-degree murder because of diminished mental capacity from eating so much junk food that it exacerbated his depression. The “Twinkie Defense” did not help White, who was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the killings of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.

The Twinkie,  born in 1930, is credited to James A. Dewar, a Illinois baker for what was then the Continental Baking Company. The firm produced a cream-filled strawberry shortcake. When strawberry season was over, Dewar saw no reason the machines needed to sit idle. He formulated a banana cream cake which, amid World War II rationing, became and remained vanilla cream.

The name? It was inspired by a billboard Dewar saw for Twinkle Toe Shoes. “I shortened it to make it a little zippier for the kids,” Dewar said in a 1980 interview.

The golden confection developed into a finger-shaped sugar sponge that was injected with a gooey filling capable of addicting children and adults alike.

Twinkies had survived the Depression, three major wars, the crumbling of the Berlin Wall, bankruptcy filings by the parent company and all the jokes about their post-apocalyptic staying power. But ultimately, Twinkies were vulnerable to labor problems at Hostess, which is now privately owned by two hedge funds.

The company argued that crippling wage and benefit disputes were its ruin and left it hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. The striking "Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union" blamed lackluster technological investment by Hostess and a focus on profits for the hedge funds. Either way, 18,500 people are out of a job, and an iconic product will cease production unless another firm scoops up the brand. Who knows? Maybe the Chinese step up, start producing them using cheaper labor and bring them back at a cheaper price... well, it could happen....

Whatever happens, these little cream filled buddies have disappeared from the store shelves for now (there was a run on Twinkies as soon as people heard the terrible news). They will be missed by young and old alike. Goodbye, old friend, goodbye.

ve Long  and Prosper...

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