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Businesses News

The Glorious Return of the Twinkie 528

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-in-my-belly dept.
iggymanz writes "The geek food staple the Twinkie is coming back. The sturdy main component of the foundation to the geek four food groups of sugar, fat, caffeine and bacon — with rumored shelf life on the order of the time span to cool a white dwarf to room temperature — the Twinkie, along with Ding-Dongs, Ho-Ho's and Cupcakes, will be returning 15 July 2013 to the shelves under new management of Apollo Global Management and C. Dean Metropoulous & Co which paid over 400 mega dollars (U.S.) for the brands."
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The Glorious Return of the Twinkie

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  • Shelf life (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bodero (136806) on Monday June 24, 2013 @11:52AM (#44093619)

    with rumored shelf life on the order of the time span to cool a white dwarf to room temperature

    From the AP [tbo.com]:

    During bankruptcy proceedings, Hostess had said that its overall sales had been declining, although the company didn't give a breakout on the performance of individual brands. But Seban is confident Twinkies will have staying power beyond its re-launch.


    As for the literal shelf-life, Seban is quick to refute the snack cake's fabled indestructibility.


    "Forty-five days - that's it," he said. "They don't last forever."

  • by sjbe (173966) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:32PM (#44094097)

    No-one eats them. Why do you think the company went bankrupt?

    They sold 36 million of them [wikipedia.org] in 2011. That's a lot of twinkies if "no-one" is eating them. I just can't figure out who.

    Why do you think the company went bankrupt?

    They went bankrupt because their (union) labor costs, pension costs and debt load. Incompetent management probably played a role somewhere in there too. They had significant revenue but their costs were out of line with the amount of revenue.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:35PM (#44094147) Homepage

    The reason that Hostess went under is that management refused to play nice with their unionized workforce, and they decided that they'd rather have no company than a union shop. Now that the union is busted, they've restarted production with a non-unionized workforce, "generously" allowing those workers to return to their old jobs at about 1/3 what they were paid before.

    And if you're wondering which side to blame: Before the strike that ended Hostess, there were a couple rounds of the union taking pay and benefit cuts followed by management giving themselves bonuses for convincing the union to accept the cuts. That's why the union didn't buy the "but if you don't take the cuts, the company will go under" argument.

  • by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:38PM (#44094179)
    This is another case of corporate S.O.P: declare bankruptcy for one reason; to void any and all obligations to current - and especially - retired employees.

    So as you gorge on your new Twinkiees, try to ignore that no doubt they were made by newly or re-hired workers from the now-permanent underclass: longer hours, lower wages, little or no benefits, and laughable health insurance.

    Not that much of this will matter to the increasingly Randian crowd on Slashdot.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:50PM (#44094351) Homepage Journal

    The union took cuts twice, and each time management gave themselves huge bonuses (million +), . SO after that, why would the union cut yet again?

    The union stepped up and did their part, and management screwed them, and refused to make an actual management changes.

  • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:51PM (#44094369) Journal

    It seems wrong that a brand discontinued by its owner should sell for $400 million.
    Perhaps I just don't understand the consumer business.
    Maybe that's why I'm a hardware designer...

    It's not really the consumer business, it's the corporate chop-shop/knacker business.

    "Hostess Brands" has reasonably strong product lines and revenue; but it was having trouble with those pesky 'employees' who wanted 'the wages and benefits specified in their contracts', like some kind of parasitic commies or something. Some of them even had the temerity to suggest that demanding that they take major cuts when the 'Chief restructuring officer' and other higher ups had received 80% raises was a show of rather bad faith.

    By chopping up the company for parts, the various brands, which are valuable, can be divorced from any "legacy pension and medical benefit obligations and restrictive work rules"(as the company describes them, in the self-pitying tones of one who has conveniently forgotten agreeing to them...) and turned into sweet, sweet cash, any facilities worth keeping can be sold off, and operations and creditors who actually matter can continue as normal. (Thanks to a little strategic-under-funding of the pension plan, American taxpayers [pbgc.gov] will get to do their part to ensure that real creditors come out unscathed.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:56PM (#44094449)

    The reason they are known to have a long shelf life is because they use banana cream instead of dairy cream, giving them a comparatively longer shelf life.

    They have used vanilla cream instead of banana cream since around WWII when there was a banana shortage.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 24, 2013 @01:12PM (#44094625)

    Nice rewrite of what actually happened. One of the two major reason that Hostess escaped bankruptcy in 2009 was that the union allowed thousands in job cuts and agreed to benefit cuts to the tune of $110 million. So to act like the unions did nothing is utter nonsense. They only threatened striking after the incompetent management told them that they had to make even deeper concessions

  • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Monday June 24, 2013 @01:33PM (#44094897) Homepage

    Not quite.

    The Teamsters union always had a variety of rules, e.g. "the guy who unloads the truck has to drive in a separate car from the guy who drives the truck" and other stuff like that. Hostess, realizing the costs that this imposed on them, didn't really invest in the brand very much over the next several decades, because they realized that they couldn't turn the investment into a big profit and they're not in the business of giving away money if they can help it - instead, they returned such money as there was to shareholders. (And to themselves as management. The shareholders and bankruptcy courts are free to look into that, certainly.) Hostess slowly declined into marginal profitability, then unprofitability, and limped around in bankruptcy for 11 years, until at a critical juncture the baker's union went on strike because they felt that they could do better for their members in any takeover than if Hostess were otherwise restructured with a Teamsters contract.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 24, 2013 @01:38PM (#44094935)

    The unions accepted job and benefit cuts totalling $110 million. They did more than their fair share.

  • by steveha (103154) on Monday June 24, 2013 @02:03PM (#44095175) Homepage

    The union stepped up and did their part, and management screwed them, and refused to make an actual management changes.

    Actually, no.

    I followed this story. The way it actually worked:

    Hostess went into bankruptcy in 2004. It found investors who bailed it out and it kept going.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hostess_Brands#Bankruptcy_.282004.29 [wikipedia.org]

    Hostess went into bankruptcy again. It found additional investors who bailed it out and it kept going.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hostess_Brands#Bankruptcy_and_liquidation_.282012.29 [wikipedia.org]

    Hostess was running out of money. Management set up a deal that would cut costs by paying workers less. This was not what the workers wanted, but according to management, it was essential to save the jobs.

    One thing that riled up the workers: management got paid a lot. In an effort to make the workers happier, the top four guys at Hostess had their salaries lowered to $1 per year for 2012.

    http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2012/07/26/hostess-twinkies-bankrupt/ [cnn.com]

    But the major costs at Hostess had to do with worker salaries, particularly with respect to delivery of Hostess products. Union rules required Hostess snack foods and Wonder bread foods to be delivered on different trucks, which had to be loaded by different people. A "Hostess" worker couldn't load a "Wonder" truck, a "Wonder" driver couldn't drive a "Hostess" truck, and the company couldn't contract out delivery. So, if a small town in a distant location wanted to buy Hostess cakes and Wonder bread, two trucks would have to drive out there, not one. Also, there is some complicated stuff I don't really understand about Hostess paying pensions to a whole bunch of workers, many of whom had never worked for Hostess.

    http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials-on-the-right/111912-633985-unions-dont-always-benefit-workers.htm?p=full [investors.com]

    http://ohioansforworkplacefreedom.com/how-unions-killed-twinkies-and-wonderbread/ [ohioansfor...reedom.com]

    Now, pay attention, because here's the key part: the Teamsters Union had been fighting with Hostess management, and they had seen the accounting numbers, and they believed that (at least on this issue) management was not lying. If Hostess didn't cut labor costs, it was doomed.

    I am not an expert on unions, but my impression is that the Teamsters Union is not exactly a shill for management.

    It wasn't Teamsters Union workers who went on strike: it was workers of a smaller union called the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM). The Teamsters Union publicly told BCTGM not to strike. Check out this page from the Teamsters Union web site:

    http://www.teamster.org/content/teamsters-bakery-workers-should-hold-secret-ballot-vote-hostess [teamster.org]

    The story gets even crazier. Management publicly told BCTGM that if the strike wasn't over by a specific date, they would shut down Hostess. BCTGM continued to strike. Management shut down the company. Then... a judge ordered both sides into an extra round of negotiations, and I thought to myself, "Here is where BCTGM can back down yet save face. They were unwavering in the face of a threat, they can proudly tell their members that they didn't back down until they were forced to, but they can still save all the jobs." But it was not to be. BCTGM continued to strike and Hostess shut down.

  • by jdev (227251) on Monday June 24, 2013 @03:08PM (#44095783)
    Unions had already agreed to $100 million in concessions during the previous bankruptcy. The bakers union was being asked for something like an additional 25% in cuts over 5 years, while there were reports of raises and bonuses for management. On top of all that, management had stopped contributing to the pension fund and there is still a lawsuit over that. Agreeing to the cuts would have taken wages well under the market average could have depressed wages for the entire bakers industry. So let's not try to play this as a one-sided "unions are dumb" argument. There were good reasons for the unions to reject the concessions management proposed.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday June 24, 2013 @03:14PM (#44095837) Homepage Journal

    Wrong.

    Private equity backers had loaded the company with debt, That was the problem. The trivial saving that might have happened if they combined the two entities(breads and cakes) has just become an knee reaction from anti-union groups.
    lets not that division went up into management. Upper Management tried play the unions off each other to take the light off the private equity shenanigans.

  • by lgw (121541) on Monday June 24, 2013 @03:19PM (#44095885) Journal

    The kilometer was 1/10000 of 90 degrees of latitude. Which of course was for less natural for navigation than the nautical mile, which was 1 minute of latitude. The metric system is just a relic of the days when calculations were done on paper, and needs to be abandoned in favor of the One True System of measure: the Furlong-Firkin-Fortnight system!

  • Re:Mega Dollars? (Score:4, Informative)

    by infolation (840436) on Monday June 24, 2013 @04:41PM (#44096467)
    Well, let's say this Twinkie represents the normal sized dollar in the New York area. Based on this article's example, 400 mega dollars would be a Twinkie... thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday June 24, 2013 @04:55PM (#44096543) Journal

    It would be nice if internet feudalists didn't offer totally blind support for every robber baron.

    I mean, are you denying that the union accepted several wage consessions before striking? Are you denying that management then gave themselves raises? Are these not facts [mediamatters.org]?

    The article's depiction of the company's fall omits crucial context and leaves readers with the impression that the act of discarding union workers is what allowed the "trimmed-down" company to re-emerge. The AP did not tell readers that, just three years prior to Mr. Rayburn's negotiations with labor, union workers made "substantial concessions" to aid the company's financial health, or that Hostess stopped contributing to workers' pensions and cut wages and benefits "by 27 to 32 percent."

    Nor did the AP story mention the dramatic pay raises Hostess provided its executives during its financial struggles. For example, Brian Driscoll -- Hostess CEO in March 2011 -- received a salary increase from $750,000 to $2.25 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    Tell me, in what way is my support blind? It appears to be supported by facts.

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Monday June 24, 2013 @07:48PM (#44097321)
    I've got MOD points but I can't let this slide. The management was very, very competent. It's just they were after something other than a successful company. To wit: The Pension Fund. The hard part about stealing a pension fund is doing it legally. It requires enormous skill, business and legal knowledge to do it.

    What Hostess' management did wasn't just mismanagement, it was a complete lack of management. The bought the company, paid themselves just well enough to stay within the bounds of legality, and then ignored the company entirely. They put no effort into expanding, into controlling and managing the supply chain, or into anything else. Then they sat back, waiting for the company to die and used the pension to pay back the creditors they'd racked up debt with.

    The last part that makes it all nice and legal is when a judge ruled that the creditors get paid before employees do. If you paid your own cash money into your pension while working at Hostess you literally got robbed. As an added bonus they killed a major Union without any bad press.

    But nobody talks about that. All they talk about is playing an imaginary game of chicken. FYI: You can't win a game that the other side isn't really playing.

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