Twinkies — the iconic cream-filled sponge snack cake — were invented in Schiller Park, Illinois in 1930 by James Alexander Dewar, a baker for the Continental Baking Company. Dewar noticed that all those machines normally used to make strawberry shortcake were sitting idle for a long time when strawberries were out of season. Dewar dreamed up a snack cake filled with banana cream, which he dubbed the Twinkie (Dewar came up with the name when he saw a billboard in St. Louis for “Twinkle Toe Shoes”). During World War II, bananas were rationed and the company was forced to switch to vanilla cream. This change proved wildly popular, and the rest is history. That is, until last week when Hostess died. “Twinkie, twinkie little star. How I wonder what I will ever shove in my kids’ mouths now to make them shut the fuck up.” In a brilliant commentary for The Washington Post, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, author and journalist George Will explains the two powerful lessons learned from the fall of Hostess. Will writes:
“All Gods were immortal.”
And also brands, the gods of the marketplace. Earthquakes may strike, dynasties may fall and locusts may devour the crops, but Oldsmobile and Pan Am are forever. Never mind. But about the death of Twinkies: Write obituaries in the subjunctive mood. Like Lazarus, but for a reason more mundane than miraculous, this confection may be resurrected.
In any case, the crisis of Hostess Brands Inc., the maker of Twinkies, involves two potent lessons.
Will continues: “Hostess, which had 18,500 employees making and distributing more than 30 brands made in 36 plants, had been in and out of bankruptcy several times since 2004. Its terminal crisis began Nov. 9, when thousands of members of the bakers union went out on strike to protest wage, health-care and pension cuts imposed by a court. The bakers objected to a 17 percent increase in their contribution for their health-care benefits.” George Will also has some harsh words for the Teamsters union (whom I can attest are the laziest sons-o-bitches on any movie set — bar none). To read George Will’s blistering and brilliant commentary of how the Teamsters are largely responsible for destroying the very company that employed so many of their members, be sure to visit WashingtonPost.com.