While others scramble to buy the last Twinkies on earth, I mourn the loss of the penultimate lunchtime wing man. Wonder Bread doesn't compete for attention. When I eat bologna and cheese, that's all I taste. The bread's there to keep the mustard off my hands. Wonder Bread is a delivery system for food. There's no flavor, no seeds and nuts and tree bark. I don't need to sacrifice taste to mask cold cuts as health food. I don't want to think about my bowel health while I'm eating my sandwich.
As it turns out, Hostess Brands is screwing not just its gluttonous customers, but its workforce as well. In September, having worked at reduced wages for over a decade in part due to a prior bankruptcy, employees rejected a contract that would further cut wages by 8 percent and benefits by 27 to 32 percent. A bankruptcy judge then ruled that Hostess could break the union contract and impose the cuts anyway. This also released the company from paying future pension benefits. The cuts were enforced in October.
The strike began November 9. With the union effectively broken by the judge's ruling, Hostess stated that unless workers returned by November 15, all 18,500 workers would be fired. Its collective bargaining power stripped and with hardly any time for a vote, the union did not return to work. Not only did they lose their jobs but Hostess will no longer be obligated to pay them $100 million in back pension benefits, money siphoned from the fund to keep the company afloat until it could sell its assets for the benefit of the private equity and hedge fund firms that control it. So, in a way, they financed their own demise.
So here we all are in a world without Twinkies, Wonder Bread, CupCakes, Devil Dogs, Ding Dongs, Donettes, Funny Bones, Ho Hos, Ring Dings, Sno Balls and Yodels. Well, almost. The final batches have Best By dates from now through December. eBay is replete with offerings from $1 to $10,000 for a single packet of Twinkies. (I'm pretty sure the latter is a joke listing but who knows? If Damien Hirst gets hold of one, the sky's the limit.) I've never been a big Twinkie fan. Once in a while, I get a hankering for one and eating it cures me right away.
My weakness is Hostess Cherry Pie. I've loved them since I was a kid. The filling is just perfect, never a disappointment like so many diner pie slices. They're hard to come by so I never get tired of them. Finding one in a gas station convenience store or a grocery store in the middle of nowhere always makes me a bit giddy. A little unreasonable happiness is a good thing, in my opinion, even if makes the cashier think I'm nuts. So while eBay turned into Twinkie central yesterday, I quietly acquired three cherry pies. I'm eating my last slice of Wonder toast while they wing their way to me from somewhere in Petaluma, CA.
|Come to me, my darling!|
I'm pretty sure Twinkies will be back eventually. Some company will snap up the formula after seeing how much fuss is being made over them. Only when it puts them into production will it realize people no longer care. I can only hope that someday I'll see BP Cherry Pie on a store shelf someday (oil slick not included). Most of all, I worry about the lawyers. What will become of the Twinkie defense?
Twinkies Maker Will Close After Strike
Judge Rips Up Union Contracts for Twinkie Makers
Hostess, maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread, to shut down, blames striking workers