Is it really over? The iconic American trio of Wonder Bread, Ding Dongs, and Twinkies, done in by a strike?
We deeply regret the necessity of today’s decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” Hostess CEO Gregory F. Rayburn said in announcing that the firm had filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to shutter its business. “Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.”
Those of you more familiar than I am with similar bankruptcy proceedings and their aftermath could say whether there’s a chance the products will carry on under different management and ownership.
As for me, I will mourn just a little bit. The only one of the three products I ever liked was Wonder Bread, the ubiquitous sandwich bookends of my youth. Everybody ate Wonder Bread in those days; I thought it was the only bread in the world. It had a consistency that was mostly air, and very very soft when fresh. My favorite Wonder Bread leisure time activity was to carefully tear off the crusts, leaving the huge and achingly tender center, and then ruthlessly crush that down into a little nub which I then pressed and shaped into a perfect cube that was hardly more than a quarter inch square. When it was just right, I’d pop it into my mouth and savor it.
I recently got into a discussion with my family about that process, and the young people wanted to see it for themselves. So we bought a loaf of Wonder Bread—the first I’d seen in many a decade—and I proceeded to demonstrate. Alas; it just wasn’t the same. Not quite as soft, and nowhere near as succulent as in memory. My guess is that the formula has changed in the intervening years: more preservatives, perhaps?
And now I hear, just a short time later, that the company has gone belly up, victim of a strike. Others will mourn the Twinkie and the Ding Dong, although the nutrition police are probably rejoicing at the demise of the entire troika. As for that 18,500-member workforce that will be laid off, they’ll be getting government benefits to tide them over for a while.
Hostess and the unions had been struggling for quite some time:
The privately held company filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, its second trip through bankruptcy court in less than a decade. The company cited increasing pension and medical costs for employees as one of the drivers behind its latest filing. Hostess had argued that workers must make concessions for it to exit bankruptcy and improve its financial position.
The truth is probably that time has passed Hostess by. Its products were once in every child’s lunchbox. Now, not so much—and do children even carry lunches anymore?