News Column

Twinkies Are Back!

July 15, 2013
Twinkies snack cakes

After an 8-month hiatus, Twinkies snack cakes return to store shelves today, made under new ownership and with a slightly different recipe that extends their shelf life by about three weeks.

Also returning are Ding Dongs, CupCakes and the rest of the Hostess snack family, now owned by private equity firms Apollo Global Management and C. Dean Metropoulous & Co. The firms bought the brands for $410 million when Hostess abruptly shut down amid labor band financial troubles in November.

While the Schiller Park bakery once owned by Hostess is again making the cakes, the union is gone as are many of the jobs there.

The reduction there mirror the smaller scale of the whole Hostess company. When it is fully staffed in three months, it will have some 1,800 employees in the United States, Hostess President Rich \Seban said. Previously, the workforce was more than 10 times that. The number of bakeries for Hostess products has slimmed down to four from 11 since last year's shutdown.

To herald the comeback of Twinkies, the Kansas City, Mo., company's new owners are spending "several million dollars" on a marketing blitz using social media, Vine videos, billboards, building walls and a website called Prepare Your CakeFace. Street teams are handing out T-shirts and "I Saved the Twinkie" buttons. A food truck is visiting county fairs, music festivals and other locations.

Wal-Mart, in an attempt to get a jump on the expected rush, said it stocked certain stores with Twinkies on Friday, with all its other stores in the contiguous U.S. selling the treats Sunday -- a day early.

Hostess has an ambitious new business strategy in place for Twinkies: "to be sold wherever candy bars are sold," Seban said.

"We want to capitalize on the nostalgia of the brand, but we also want to make sure we're relevant to this generation and not just the generations of the past," Seban said.

Twinkie marketers are entertaining proposals to sell the treats at sports stadiums, with continental breakfasts at hotels, at movie theater concession stands and on cruise ships.

And, the company has plans in the works to update its snack cake line to include products that are more appealing to younger consumers, lighter on the calories and possibly gluten free. Don't rule out new treats flavored with peanut butter or packaged in bite-sized portions, said executives at Hostess

The new Twinkies' have some differences from the original tried and true formula that fans have come to know and love. The snack's shelf life has extended to 45 days, almost three weeks longer than the 26 days the former Twinkie was supposed to stay fresh.



Source: (c)2013 the Chicago Tribune Distributed by MCT Information Services


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