Thank you, Hostess, for the memories

Thank you, Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), for killing Hostess Brands, Inc., an iconic (since 1930) American company. Sure, some would call the products junk food. But to others they were beloved snacks enjoyed by several generations.

Last night my son went out and very deliberately bought a bag of Hostess products, particularly cupcakes, and some Pepsi. He took them home, sat his 10-year-old son down, and explained that the Pepsi and cupcakes were something he remembered enjoying with his dad and that now, while he still could, he was sharing it with his son. (Yes, we do silly, sentimental things like that in our family.)

What sort of fools destroy their own company, their own jobs? Especially in this economy. Isn’t a reduced wage still better than no wage? Of course, I don’t understand why Hostess didn’t just fire the striking workers and hire some new ones; there probably would have been dozens of applicants for each of those vacated jobs.

18,000 jobs and an American icon down the drain. Thanks for nothing, BCTGM.

Unions. Illogical and destructive. Of themselves and others. No wonder I’ve never liked them.



Categories: Money

37 replies

  1. I don’t understand the logic that underscores this decision either. Seems like there is something more going on here. That being said, I haven’t bought a Hostess product in years– maybe decades. Which might explain why the company is going out of business.

  2. Well said PT. I haven’t bought a Hostess product myself in years, but it is a shame to see them go like that.

  3. I don’t share your POV re: unions in general and I have no information about this specific union or this situation. I guess that my experience has been different than yours. I would never support turning the clock back to the times when workers were powerless pawns of management and child labor was the order of the day.

    • To me unions are an anachronism. They were formed originally to fight for greater safety in the workplace and against child labor. We have laws now to deal with those issues. Their only purpose today is to protect jobs and raise salaries, usually through strikes or the threat of strikes, which are nothing more than a form of extortion/blackmail. Ours is a free society. If someone doesn’t like the conditions, pay rate, management, or benefits at their place of employment, they are free to seek employment elsewhere. The most qualified people will be hired; people who don’t perform satisfactorily will be fired. I see nothing wrong with that system.

      It’s nothing personal. I know most of my readers tend to be liberals and will probably disagree with me on this. But I just don’t see the logic in the things unions do.

  4. And how ironic that the Teamsters tried to pressure the BCTGM to accept the deal. If even the Teamsters can see the writing on the wall, you have to wonder about the source of the BCTGM’s intransigence. Years – decades – ago my family was involved in a strike where union leaders tried without success to impose their will on the rank and file and failed. Here, it seems they succeeded.

    Ah, well. No Twinkie fan myself, but I do have a fondness for those chocolate, cream-filled cupcakes. I went out and bought a few today. The good news is they’ll last for a while.

  5. There is usually more than meets the eye to things like this. This is from a NYT article:

    “The unions are laying the blame on the company, saying Hostess Brands has suffered from financial and operational management. According to the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union, top executives at the firm have received significant pay bumps, while at the same time asking for concessions from workers.

    “What’s happening with Hostess Brands is a microcosm of what’s wrong with America, as Bain-style Wall Street vultures make themselves rich by making America poor,” A.F.L.-C.I.O. President Richard Trumka said in a statement, referring to the Bain Capital, the private equity firm run by the recent presidential candidate Mitt Romney. “Crony capitalism and consistently poor management drove Hostess into the ground, but its workers are paying the price.”

    Hostess’s advisers will soon begin to shut down the company’s 33 bakeries and 565 distribution centers. The vast majority of its 18,500 employees will be laid off, according to the company.

    As part of the process, Hostess is also looking to sell off its well-known portfolio of treats. The company has asked the court for permission to move forward with the sale . . . “

    There are implications in the article that recent trends away from dietary sugar have played a role in the two bankruptcies, so it’s hard to pin blame. The union is partly right, I suspect.

    Finally, it is well known in business management that it’s common for companies to have a life cycle just like people, and it’s normal for senescence to set in. I think Hostess’s time finally came.

    By “selling off its portfolio” they are referring to the intellectual property, a.k.a. the branding and recipes, so I predict that nobody is going to have to undergo twinkie withdrawal for very long. 😀

  6. I have fond memories with my father and “Ding Dongs.” Occasionally a “Ho-Ho’s.” Although the memories are wonderful to have, I was feeling a bit melancholy a few weeks ago and bought a box of Ding Dong’s and they’re just not made the same anymore – which most products have probably changed over the years. Although as a kid, I wasn’t picky on chocolate-anything.

    • The chocolate cupcakes I bought recently on a whim weren’t nearly as good as I remembered. Probably a combination of remembering good things as better than they really were, and subtle changes made to the product for a variety of reasons.

      • Yeah…. but I still ate the whole box of Ding Dongs. Not at the same time, though.

        • Yep, I ate all my cupcakes. I had to decide if they’d changed or not … 😉

          • Oh, I’m sure they have. With the way processing has changed, the cost of this and that. I would think that the only foot type that either hasn’t changed or changed minimally is holistic.

            I will say, though, that I was mildly surprised to see that the Ding Dongs were still wrapped in alum foil (well a version of). I would have thought they changed to some plastic sealed wrapper.

            I don’t remember them being so dry. And I used to nibble the chocolate off around the side first, then nibble away at the cake towards the center since the creamy center was my favorite part. (yeah, I’m one that saves my favorite thing for last). But when I bought that box, the chocolate coating was hard to nibble off and the cake was awful dry.

            • Sounds like you got some stale ones. Mine were nice and moist. I’d forgotten about nibbling the frosting off the sides first. I used to do that too!

              Heh, just remembered when I was growing up, there was a Hostess/Wonder Bread bakery about a mile away. When the wind was just right, the smell of fresh baking bread drove the whole neighborhood crazy.

            • I LOVE the smell of baking bread.

              That box may have been stale. I bought it at a local mom and pop grocery which does not get much traffic. It’s primarily Mexico products, ingredients, and some discount off-brand. So I doubt they have a huge turnover of Ding Dongs. I may just have to go buy another box at a busier store to give them a try. Plus to give them a fond farewell.

              lol.. glad someone else nibbled the chocolate edge. I’m not the only weirdo. 😉

            • Lots of luck finding them at a fair price. Looks like everyone is scalping them now.

            • Really? Well, this is Albuquerque….. Predominantly Mexican so I doubt the news has circulated nor do they care. Most stores have a few Mexican versions of Hostess… one is called “Bimbo.” I haven’t really tried any of it.

  7. I don’t know the specifics of the case. But I think this country needs unions now more than ever. Right now, employers seem to be under the impression that it is okay to work people into the ground for crappy pay and little to no benefits. The American labor force has been bearing the brunt of the economic downturn for several years as bosses take the attitude that if you won’t bow down and kiss their arses for 14 hours a day for the same salary you made 6 years ago, some other poor schmuck will. Or, if the person in the cube next to you leaves, they simply don’t replace him or her, and you get stuck doing two jobs for the salary of one. If you go on any work and employment forum, you’ll see the horror stories. Meanwhile, many of the companies where this goes on are raking in the profits, some at record rates. They figure they were able to wring their employees dry during the recession, might as well continue. If anyone makes a squeak, they outsource wherever possible. It’s ludicrous. M is a union man, and I’m glad of it. And, well, I’ll be joining a union myself come the new year.

    • I understand what you’re saying about employers. But as I’ve said before, employees are free to seek better conditions elsewhere. Eventually the employers who mistreat and underpay their employees will find themselves unable to hire competent personnel and they’ll either have to change their ways or go out of business.

      We all have unique work histories. Had mine been different, I might think unions are the best thing since sliced bread. Also, I’ve been out of the workforce for more than 10 years and never had to work in an economy/job market as bad as the current one.

  8. Ugh, Yeah. No. The more I read, the more I’m convinced Hostess was mismanaged. They had 7 CEOs in 10 years (all well-compensated, of course). Meanwhile, there were concessions in place from four years ago, yet they wanted more pay cuts, more cuts to benefits, and then they did away with pensions. A friend of mine summed it up this way, and I agree: It was predatory capitalism at its ugliest, with the added bonus they could blame the workers. Okay, I’ll stop yammering in your comments now. 😉

  9. LOL. I couldn’t remember what Hostess Suzy Qs are so I googled them. Found this website:

    Italian gourmet food? Seriously?

  10. PT, this event has not hit here – these are very American products, but I am reading all over the internet of people going out to stock up on them, and sitting in front of the telly eating them for a last ceremonial time. Awesome, the affection in which they are held.

"There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees." ~ Michel de Montaigne

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