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Is the Hostess Twinkie Debacle One of the Greatest Marketing Ploys Ever?

Hostess brands
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

We all heard the news on Friday that Hostess would cease operations, thus killing off the Twinkie as well as Ding-Dongs and Ho-Hos. We even blogged about it right here on this website and guess what happened? Hostess products flew off the shelves in record numbers over the weekend with Twinkies going for huge sums on eBay. Hostess retailers, like the one on Covert Ave. here in Evansville, were slammed by crazed Ttwinkie fans. Hostess announced the closing after citing the recent strike crippled their ability to stay open. The union was given a deadline that came and went without a response and that was that – Hostess was gone…or were they?

Many speculated that the closing was merely a hardball tactic on the part of Hostess to get the unions back to the negotiating table to hammer out a deal. Yesterday, it was announced that Hostess and its second largest union would go into mediation to resolve their differences, which gives Hostess a stay of execution, so to speak.

Is it just me, or is there a slight fishy odor coming from the Twinkie plant? Given the way their products moved over the weekend, coupled with the fact that miraculously the union wants to talk, doesn’t quite pass the smell test in my book.

Does Hostess have financial trouble? Yes. Have their sales dropped off in recent years? Sure. Have they filed for bankruptcy protection before? You bet. One thing, however, remains clear, Hostess still does about $2.5 billion in business per year and Twinkies alone brought in about $68 million this year. Does that sound like financial trouble? Not really.

Hostess isn’t the only company dealing with increased labor costs while looking for ways to trim back their expenses. All I know is, Hostess got back on the map in a BIG way this past weekend and saw some serious sales numbers.

This news however, likely will not bring back the Hostess retail outlets that were forced to close their doors, like ours here in Evansville did. The announced financial difficulties of Hostess last January, coupled with the recent strike, pretty much sealed the fate of the small retail outlets including ours, and in the process, put 13 very good, hard working people with families out of work…and that’s the worst part of all this.

One thing is certain, Twinkies, Ding-Dongs and Ho-Hos will live on either with Hostess or another company. My money says Hostess stays open with fewer plants and a reduced workforce, which is a lot better than sending more than 18,000 workers to the unemployment line.

One worker almost certainly will get a raise out of this mess – the marketing director! Nice job whoever you are. You got us good…this time.

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