Friday, November 16, 2012

Goodbye for Now, Twinkies

I'm reading a lot of people lamenting that Hostess has gone out of business and that this is the death of a beloved American brand. People seem to be really hurt to be losing Twinkies and Wonder Bread, and since this is the kind of pop culture errata I used to deal extensively in, I've been exploring what my own feelings are as well.

And honestly, I don't think Twinkies have been very good for about the last 20 years.

People are sad at the loss of Hostess, but honestly, I'm not. Sure, I ate Hostess brand snacks when I was growing up. I used to absolutely love Twinkies. I ate Hostess Fruit Pies a lot in high school because they were literally the cheapest item you could get in the cafeteria, so if I was able to scrape up a lousy fifty cents, that would be a day I could eat lunch. And at one point in my life, I would only make my peanut butter sandwiches with Wonder Bread.

My earliest Hostess memories are of my Dad, actually. I always remember times when just me and my Dad were driving somewhere. Often, he'd stop at a gas station or a convenience store and buy a bottle of Pepsi and either a Hostess Cupcake or a pack of Ho Ho's. I always wanted to eat like my Dad, and I developed the same fondness for soda, bologna sandwiches, potato chips and snack cakes. So when I think of Hostess, I think of times in the car, watching my old man drive and listening to rock music, getting to sip the Pepsi and getting one of the two cupcakes in the pack. It was a great time.

But at some point, either my tastes changed or Twinkies did. They just became inedible to me. Oh, I've tried. Every couple of years I'd get nostalgic and try once again to eat a Twinkie, and it just... no. Didn't work. Not happening. They were no longer the sweet, pillowy treats I remembered from being a kid. They just weren't. And neither, for that matter, was Wonder Bread the same. They were just... bland. In fact, giving up Wonder Bread is what finally led me to multigrain breads.

I don't think this is really the end of these brands. Hostess is going to sell off its assets, and Twinkies will end up at Dolly Madison or Little Debbie or, I dunno, Keebler or Nestle or something. It's too iconic to disappear. I think most of those brands will end up at new homes, or maybe all of them will be acquired by one company. I wouldn't fret over that, but honestly, I don't think anyone really is. I think it's more the feeling that something that we loved in our childhoods isn't going to be the same anymore. It's just another thing to remind us of getting older.

But for me, Twinkies have been firmly in the past for some time. I don't lament them because I don't like them anymore. Maybe whomever makes them now will make them better. That would be nice. It would be lovely to enjoy a Twinkie or a Cupcake or a Ho-Ho again. And if not, oh well. I had them when they were good.

What's really unfortunate is the impact it'll have on jobs. I read that something like 18,000 jobs are going to be lost, and that's really a shame. I wish those people luck staying on their feet in this economy. I wish that for all of us.

Goodbye for now, Twinkies. See you when you get back. Maybe.

UPDATE 3:33 PM: Hostess is now blaming a union for its bankruptcy, despite freezing worker pay and raising their CEO's salary 300%. So there's the reason everyone should stop feeling bad about Twinkies going out of business. Fuck that guy, and fuck that company.


Roger Owen Green said...

actually, my abandonment of Twinkies started WAY earlier. Hostess as owned by ITT during the Vietnam war, and ITT was a military contractor, so I boycotted Hostess. After the war, probably six years later, I tried a Twinkie and found it inedible. But I still liked the fruit pies. vso I

MC said...

I recently read that the private equity firm was squeezing all the assets from the company out as dividends and that is why the company had the debts that it did (and that earlier union concessions worth 100 million dollars were similarly funneled out of the company as dividends rather than as a reinvestment in the company).

So no matter what the union did, the company was screwed.

Carl said...

When I first heard hostess was going out of business, I thought I should get my hands on some of the snacks before they were gone for good. That thought lasted about a minute and a half. I don't recall the last time I had any hostess brand other than wonder bread, and there are other brands of white bread.

I agree with you about the nostalgia-- they're good memories, but I doubt I'd like suzie-q's like I did as a kid.

Plus, I also think we haven't seen the last of some of those items.