Suddenly, a run on Twinkies

Posted: November 19, 2012

Twinkie junkies have spoken.

Since Hostess Brands Inc. announced Friday that it plans to liquidate and sell its products until supplies are exhausted, Americans have been scooping up Twinkies to get a fix of their beloved snacks. Supermarkets are running out and fans are pushing up prices on eBay.

On Friday, shoppers emptied the shelves of Twinkies at a Jewel-Osco store in Chicago. "We may have a few things left, but pretty much we're out of our Hostess stuff," Paul Knoblock, assistant store manager, said in a telephone interview.

A 10-pack of Twinkies was available on eBay Friday for $24.99 and four 10-packs were listed for $99.99 on the retailer's website. Other Hostess products, including Zingers, Coffee Cakes, and Cup Cakes, are for sale on eBay.

A 10-pack of Twinkies is listed for $3.29 on the Peapod website, a home-delivery grocery seller owned by Royal Ahold NV.

Hostess, which also makes Wonder Bread, Ding Dongs, and Ho Hos, plans to fire more than 18,000 employees and liquidate assets after a nationwide strike by bakery workers crippled operations. The 82-year-old maker of snack cakes was undone by the strike after changes in American diets led to years of declining sales while ingredient and labor costs rose.

In an interview with Betty Liu on In the Loop on Bloomberg Television, chief executive officer Gregory F. Rayburn said the company's brands may survive under a new owner.

"Hopefully, someone will buy the brands, and some of the brands can live on, but that's a pretty small consolation for people who are out of work," Rayburn said. The company's brand names include Dolly Madison, Drake's, Merita, and Butternut.

Supervalu Inc., the third-largest U.S. grocery-store chain, said Friday that Twinkies sales had jumped. "We are definitely seeing an increase in customers purchasing Hostess products and expect this will continue as news about the company spreads," Mike Siemienas, a spokesman for Supervalu, based in Eden Prairie, Minn..

On Nov. 15, searches for Hostess on Google were about 11 times higher than they were a week earlier, and searches for Twinkies were 17 times higher, according to data from Crystal Dahlen, a spokeswoman for Google Inc.

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