Thank you, Hostess, for the memories

37 thoughts on “Thank you, Hostess, for the memories”

  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. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. That they’ll last a while is also the bad news. What on earth do they do to those things to make their shelf life so long? No matter. I still like ’em.

  4. 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. 😀

    1. Yes, I read the same article. I didn’t really know the history of Hostess’s bankruptcies but I’d already assumed that if bankruptcy was involved, poor management decisions probably played a part. And of course, as you point out, the public’s changing eating habits probably contributed too. Lots of blame to go around. Not just the union strike.

      Regardless, it makes no sense to me to destroy your employer and your own job, not to mention the jobs of all the non-union employees at Hostess (5,000 union members out of 18,000 employees). Wouldn’t it make more sense to take the pay cut and keep some money coming in while you look for another job? What about all those non-union people who lost their jobs a week before Thanksgiving. What do the union members tell them? How do those union people sleep at night?

      1. On the surface of it, I agree. Better diminished wages and benefits than none. No doubt, distrust is at the heart of it, same as in national politics. Union leaders did point to recent “bumps” in executive compensation. What message does that send to the rank and file? Huh? Ultimately, openness and the free press are the only remedy.

      2. I’ve never worked anywhere that management didn’t “get theirs,” regardless of whether the underlings got anything. It’s why people work so hard to get to the top. Of course, any company that gets really foolish about it in the face of financial reality is going to have to pay the piper. (Unless they’re GM and get a government bailout.)

      3. That article mentions the workers may get their jobs back under a new owner. Or maybe not. Seems to me both Hostess and the union thought the other side would blink. And neither side did. Lose – lose.

      4. Well, they are ex execs now. But I guess they have enough to get by till they find new jobs. I feel sorry for the non-union employees who got caught in the middle of all this.

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

      3. 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. 😉

      4. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

  7. 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. 😉

    1. Still, had you been one of those union members, wouldn’t you have preferred to hang onto your job and income while you looked for another job? 20% less pay is still better than 100% of nothing.

  8. 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.

... and that's my two cents