For me, the issue of the Hostess Brands snack food line apparently going under – I can’t believe that someone won’t buy this venerable line – isn’t the loss of Ding Dongs. It’s that, apparently, the company had “manipulated” its executives’ pay–sending its former chief executive’s salary, in particular, skyrocketing- in the months leading up to its Chapter 11 filing, in an effort to dodge the Bankruptcy Code’s compensation requirements.
Yet the stories I hear on the nightly news talk about the failure of the company to come to an agreement with the unions. Implicit in that is if it weren’t for the greedy unions, we’d still have our Twinkies. Maybe, just maybe, it was the unions who were offered a bad deal, and are now getting a bad rap.
I have a peculiar history with Hostess. During the Vietnam war, the product line was owned by ITT, and ITT built stuff that helped the war machine. So I boycotted Hostess from about 1970 until the war was over in 1975. Truth is, I never much liked Wonder Bread all that much, and after I started eating whole-grain breads, Wonder Bread was inedible. I liked Twinkies, though. Finally, after a half dozen years, I tried a Twinkie again; I thought it was AWFUL, pure sugar. Had my taste buds changed, or did my previous political antipathy make it taste bad? But I still liked the fruit pies when I tried them again, though I preferred the ones by Drake, which had a fun commercial to boot.
Mark Evanier made some interesting points. “They came out with ‘100 calorie’ packs of their Twinkies and cupcakes… but the experiment caused me to swear off their products for good. The size of a Twinkie that got the calories down to that acceptable number was so small as to be unsatisfying and it made me more acutely aware of how many were in the full-sized version.” Other brands did the same thing, and I had the same reaction. As for Wonder Bread, “by the time they did offer a ‘whole grain white,’ it felt insincere on their part.” Absolutely!
I’m not planning on buying up some Hostess products. Despite the cliche, they WON’T last forever like styrofoam.