Baking foe: Hostess' fate is not sweet to us

Posted: November 19, 2012

WITH THE imminent closing of the Hostess plant in Northeast Philadelphia, several hundred people are expected to lose their jobs in the region and thousands nationwide.

The loss of anyone's job is a sad affair, and it's only compounded by Thanksgiving falling next week and the Christmas holidays just around the corner.

But Hostess has always been an also-ran in the Philadelphia region. This is Tastykake territory.

Hostess had a power lineup of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho-hos. We knew about them. But they never had the same hold on our hearts as did Krimpets, Cupcakes and Juniors.

For those growing up in the region, Hostess products were something you might see on the shelves of a 7-Eleven. (And you'd go to a 7-Eleven only if - and that's a big if - there wasn't a nearby Wawa.)

None of the Flyers ever won a case of Ding Dongs for scoring a goal. And no one playing Marie Antoinette at Eastern State Penitentiary ever tossed snack cakes at a crowd while announcing "Let them eat Twinkies."

Hostess Brands Inc. Friday announced it would be liquidated after decades of declining sales and recent labor discord.

But Tastykake, bought by Georgia-based Flowers Foods in 2011, won't be gloating.

"It is not our place to talk about any other company's business," said a Flowers spokesman in a statement Friday afternoon. "However, this is an unfortunate situation and we are very sad for all those impacted."

Tastykake's market has continued to grow - you can now buy Krimpets in Maine - and has contributed strongly to this year's 6.2 percent growth for Flowers.

Hostess Brands was also the baker and distributor for Wonder Bread. Curiously, Grupo Bimbo, parent company of the Horsham-based Bimbo Brands USA, had tried to buy Wonder in 2007.

Grupo Bimbo, the world's biggest bread producer, manufactures Wonder for the Mexican market.

Which raises a possibility: Will Bimbo try for Wonder again? After all, each of Hostess's brands is destined to be sliced up and sold.

The company did not return calls requesting comment.

Bimbo, as fans of the MLS well know, is a major sponsor of the Philadelphia Union soccer team. The Union's jerseys have a large Bimbo logo across the front.

If Bimbo makes another attempt to pick up the Wonder brand, could the Union jersey someday be sporting the Wonder logo?

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