If you’re into that sort of thing, you may want to start stockpiling Twinkies and Wonder Bread, because they may not be on the shelves much longer. Hostess, the iconic American bakery, is filing for its second bout of Chapter 11 bankruptcy (called Chapter 22!)…and, according to the Wall StreetÂ Journal, the company’s own Twinkie may be to blame. But pointing the finger at the Twinkie seems a bit like blaming the victim. Because the real killer of Hostess’s profits probably isn’t the snack cake itself, but rather changing American eating habits, and a greater awareness of health and nutrition.
The company is citing labor and manufacturing costs, but the subtext is pretty clear: Hostess isn’t keeping up with the desires of consumers. Sales of Twinkies and Wonder Bread, the company’s cornerstones,Â are on the decline. In the heyday of Hostess, moms wouldn’t think twice about tossing a PB&J on white bread and a Twinkie into their kid’s lunch. But now, the average American parent Â (and their children) are starting to become more aware of what’s good to eat, and what, like empty calories, trans fats, and dozens of grams of sugar, isn’t. Unfortunately for the company, it looks like many of Hostess’s products have been left behind in a flurry of foods that have cafeteria cast-aways.
This isn’t the first time that Hostess has had problems–or even the first time they’ve filed for bankruptcy–which indicates that it’s probably due to their own lack of action after the first filing in 2004. Because even after their first bout of giant debt, Hostess has misguidedly relied heavily on their consumers desire for their products, like Wonder Bread and Ho Hos, despite the fact that they’re widely accepted as a supremely unhealthy choice. Instead of doing what McDonald’s and Frito-Lay have done (dropping prices, or altering their offerings and advertising to make them appear healthy), Hostess has dug in their heels, refusing to change course.
Aside from the advent of the “100 Calorie Pack”, Hostess has continued to sell their products as-is for years. They’ve advertised Wonder Bread, which is definitely devoid of nutrition or whole grains, as “wholesome.” They’ve never used the fact that Twinkies are technically vegan as a selling point. They’ve never pushed a “lite” Twinkie. They’ve just hoped that consumers would keep coming back to the preservative-laden sponge cake. But consumers, it seems, are wising up.
The American obesity crisis is, it seems, a more pressing matter than Americana in the form of a Twinkie. Because even if the average consumer isn’t quite sure what to look for at the grocery store, they do know one thing: Twinkies = not healthy. And until Hostess begins to offer truck-stop treats that aren’t laden with fat and sugar, it’s unlikely that their breads and desserts will be making a comeback in lunch boxes and pantries.
Image: The Washington Post