Hostess Shutting Down, Products Leaving Shelves
By Bill Hughes - Portions by AP
PADUCAH, KY; IRVING, TX - Hostess says it's going out of business -- but some of its products may continue to be sold. In Paducah, however, some of their treats are going fast.
Hostess, the maker of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread, had warned employees it would move to shut down its operations and sell its brands if striking workers didn't allow plants to resume normal operations by yesterday evening. The deadline passed without a deal. Thousands of union members went on strike last week after rejecting a contract offer that slashed wages and benefits.
CEO Greg Rayburn says there's no buyer waiting in the wings to rescue the company, but that there's been interest in some of its 30 brands, which include Dolly Madison and Nature's Pride snacks.
Locally, there is an obvious shortage of Twinkies on store shelves. A quick survey of stores in person and by telephone revealed that the sponge cake snacks were first to go.
Some stores were running low on all Hostess products. A cashier at Cash Saver Cost Plus Food Outlet told a reporter that after she heard the news about Hostess, she was waiting to see what would happen, because she knew people would start buying out the snacks.
A manager of Wal-Mart on Paducah's south side said that their store had had little or no Twinkies for the last week, probably a side effect of the strike.
Hostess was hurt by a consumer shift toward more wholesome, fresh products. And it was saddled with high pension, wage and medical costs related to its unionized workforce. Rayburn said the company was operating on thin margins, and that the strike was a final blow.
The closing will mean the loss of about 18,500 jobs
The company's roughly 500 bakery outlet stores will stay open for several days to sell remaining products.