November 19, 2012 By Jack Jodell
The Hostess Company closed its doors for good on Friday, meaning that popular American products like Hostess Twinkies, Hostess CupCakes, Hostess Ho Hos, Hostess Ding Dongs, and even Wonder Bread will soon dusappear completely from the nation’s supermarket, gas station, and convenience store shelves. I fondly remember free-standing racks of this snack cake line from my early childhood. I believe for many years, the Twinkies and CupCakes were sold side by side, 2 pieces per cellophane-wrapped package, for a mere 12 cents. Though never particularly nutritious, both Wonder Bread and those vanilla creme-filled Hostess sanack cakes adorned countless millions of American school lunch boxes over a great many decades. Now, barring an unlikely resurrection by one or more other baking companies, they will soon vanish completely, to be relegated to our misty, nostalgic memory banks.
Hostess blamed a strike by its bakers union for its troubles, but the real reason was the company’s failure to keep up with the latest product marketing trends. For example, the company was very slow to introduce a healthier, more nutritious line of products, and when it did, was extremely limited and conservative in its marketing efforts. I remember as a child the Wonder Bread slogan of “Helps Build Strong Bodies 12 Ways!” being repeated endlessly in national TV ads and print media, but in recent years, advertising and promotions for the entire product line all but dried up. Undoubtedly, the current strike had its impact on the company, but once again, its workers were made the scapegoat, as last year, despite having declared bankruptcy in 2009, the companiy’s board of directors approved pay increases of a whopping 80% for themselves! Now 18,000 of its workers will permanently lose their jobs, and American consumers will sadly lose the opportunity to buy a number of much-beloved products. Perhaps had these parties been a bit more keen to put some of these monies into a solid strategic marketing program, this collapse could have been avoided altogether!
These products, many of which had their origins as early as the 1920s, will simply cease to exist in the United States. Many will still be available in Canada, and perhaps even Mexico, under differing licensing arrangements. Let us hope that some enterprising American baking company will take a stab at resurrecting some of these American icons, or that Hostess / Wonder delivery truck will vanish from the roads of this country forever!