Maybe the story is true as told: Hostess, the maker of such iconic and fattening snack foods as Twinkies, Ho Hos, Ding Dongs and Zingers, is going out of business because of an intractable dispute between the company and its second-largest union.
But it’s hard not to suspect that secret operatives for good-food-goodie-two-shoes like first lady Michelle Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg are behind the demise of a company whose products are practically synonymous with partially hydrogenated fat, high-fructose corn syrup and sodium stearoyl lactylate.
However one feels about the dubious nutritional benefits of Hostess’ brands, and the hold they had on the palates of our young until the lunch box police began snooping around, no one wants to see 18,500 bakers, warehouse workers, delivery drivers and counter workers lose their jobs.
Hostess’ signature product, the Twinkie, was described as a “Golden Sponge Cake with Creamy Filling,” but they were so much more. For generations of school kids, arriving home peaked and listless, they provided a reviving sugar rush, not to mention 13 percent of the recommended daily intake of saturated fat, and prompted a maternal cry that should have been printed on the label, “You’ll spoil you dinner!”
When the Texas State Fair began deep-frying them, Twinkies pioneered new avenues of gustatory excess. They even gave their name to a murder defense when the killer of a San Francisco city supervisor successfully argued diminished capacity because of an excess of junk food.
Politics was even dragged into the company’s apparent demise, with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka blaming Mitt Romney, Bain-style vulture capitalism, even though two private-equity companies did their best to save the company. Hostess itself blamed its failure on an intransigent union, the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, whose name alone should attract the attention of Bloomberg and Obama.
Even if the company goes, some of the brands are likely to survive, bought up by competitors and less health-conscious foreign companies. (What do you suppose Ding Dong means in Chinese?) Almost immediately, Twinkies and Zingers had a second-life on eBay.
Even if manufacture stops, if what they say about Twinkies is true, that the cakes have a shelf life of 20 years or more – which the company says is only an urban legend – they will be around for a long, long time to come.
There’s still plenty of time to spoil your dinner.