On Nov. 19, three days after Hostess Brands announced it's going out of business, the Hostess display case inside the Town Pump on the corner of Orange and First streets was completely bare. "I got some Ding Dongs back in the office for a million bucks," a worker behind the counter quipped. The rest was long gone, plucked from the shelves on the day of the announcement. "I've never sold so much Hostess is one day," another staffer said.
Such is the demand, however exaggerated, for Hostess products like Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho Ho's and Wonder Bread now that Hostess is closing its 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers and 570 bakery outlet stores around the country. The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which represents about 5,000 Hostess employees, went on strike, and CEO Gregory Rayburn said on Friday, Nov. 16, that the company lacks the financial resources to weather it.
- Photo courtesy Larry D. Moore
By Monday morning, Hostess aficionados had purchased every single package of cake and bread from the Sweetheart Bakery Outlet on West Broadway in Missoula. All the Twinkies were gone by Friday. The woman working the store, who declined to give her name, said she heard word of the store's imminent closure at 9:45 a.m. on Friday, and by 11:30 a.m. all the Twinkies were gone. She couldn't estimate how many of the classic American cream-filled sponge cakes customers bought. "A lot," she said. "We could have used a whole lot more."
A few of the outlet's long rows of shelves were empty, and most of what was left on Monday, the outlet's last day in business, were cookies and stuffing. "There's not a whole lot to choose from," the staffer told a customer as she walked in.
"Well, I might as well buy something," said the customer, Ruby Chavez, of Missoula's Tiny Bubbles Daycare, which relied heavily on the Sweatheart Bakery for bread. Chavez proceeded to pick through the remainders.
The Orange Street Food Farm's Hostess shelves were picked clean, too. Just a few packages of Sweetheart burger buns and Wonder bagels remained. "We have no Twinkies," said co-owner John Lubbers as he was stocking shelves, a reply he said he'd given several times over the prior few days.
Despite the rush and recent news, Twinkies and other Hostess products could be back. As of Monday afternoon, Hostess and the union had entered mediation to avoid liquidation.