Lifestyles

O'BRIEN: Here's to hoping we haven't tasted our last Twinkie

Posted: Nov. 16, 2012 8:04 pm Updated: Dec. 28, 2012 10:15 pm

Forget the fiscal cliff for a moment. We may have already gone over the Twinkies cliff. On Friday morning, news broke that Hostess Brands Inc., which makes the delicious snack cakes, was going to shut down its plants.

This is awful news on many fronts. First off, 18,500 plant workers were left without jobs as the company looks to liquidate. Hostess, which filed for bankruptcy in January, has requested court permission to close the business and sell off its assets. Closer to home, the Hostess outlet store in Quincy will close Monday, leaving those employees looking for work.

The news led to a run on Hostess products at area stores. I stopped by the County Market near 24th and Broadway about 9:30 a.m. The shelves there were cleaned out of Twinkies. Part of the reason might be the fact they were on sale. Two boxes for $4 looked like a great deal, especially when you consider what some entrepreneurs did later in the day. By early afternoon, eBay was filled with offers of unopened boxes of Twinkies for unbelievable prices.

A 10-box lot of Twinkies was up for sale for $1.5 million. One box of Twinkies was available for $250,000. Individual single-wrapped Twinkies were priced between $5,000 and $8,000. There was even a box of "rare lemon flavor" Twinkies up for bid at $5,000.

People who bought up other Hostess products also tried to cash in. Boxes of Ding Dongs were available for $50. A 10-box lot of Ho Hos was on sale for $150, a great bargain compared with that 10-box lot of Twinkies. Raspberry Zingers, the favorite of newsroom snack cake connoisseur Steve Eighinger, were going for $100 a box.

There was a run on Twinkies in Quincy, too. The Hy-Vee on Harrison was out of original Twinkies by noon Friday, and the Broadway Hy-Vee also was empty of the original Twinkies on Friday afternoon. There were chocolate-flavored Twinkies available, but that's just not the same.

Figuring there would be a run on Hostess products, I grabbed a box of Ding Dongs and Ho Hos for the newsroom during my County Market run. After seeing how much money they could be worth, I almost pulled them off the newsroom snack shelf. But how could I deny Stevie Dirt what could potentially be his last Ding Dong? The fact he won't be able to partake in a deep-fried Twinkie at Quincy Raceways next summer is punishment enough.

Losing Hostess products is like losing a part of my childhood. The first time I can remember seeing Twinkies or any of the other Hostess cakes was when I was a grade-schooler. I used to get stuck going to Eagle grocery store with my mom. But I figured out there were baseball cards on the underside of boxes of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos. There were three cards on each box. I can remember rifling through the boxes to make sure that when I begged for a box of Ding Dongs, I would have different cards to cut out for my collection. The first autograph in my collection came on a 1977 Hostess baseball card. I got Rick Reuschel to sign it during an appearance he made at a Galesburg shoe store.

Is this really the end for Twinkies and its fellow Hostess snack cake brethren? I doubt it. Someone will buy the company or the brands for next to nothing and save the day.

If that doesn't happen, I've still got one Twinkie left in the top drawer of my desk for safekeeping. And if those eBay peddlers get the prices they're asking, maybe I can add it to my retirement portfolio.

 

-- dobrien@whig.com/221-3370

 

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