A death in the family

Tuesday, December 4, 2012   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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Born in 1930 in Schiller Park, Illinois, the deceased was 82 years old at the time of passing, the day before Thanksgiving.

Having enjoyed the sweet life, the end was a bit bitter, for the dearly departed's estate had been mercilessly plundered in recent years by unscrupulous money managers, leaving 18,500 surviving family members in dire straits. Indeed, the family contends that the octogenarian's death was not due to natural causes – but to foul play.

This is the drama behind the death of Twinkies. Fondly remembered as "the cream puff of the proletariat" (and less fondly as a sugar-and-fat bomb that was a toothache in one bite and a heart attack in the next), this industrial concoction became an American icon

The father of the Twinkie was a baker at the old Continental Baking Company who saw the product as a way to keep the factory's confection machinery busy after strawberry shortcake season. Yes, the Twinkie was actually conceived as "food" for idle machines. How fitting is that?

But, we humans happily swallowed this extruded marvel of comestible engineering. The Twinkie was the best-seller of Hostess Brands, a conglomerate purveyor of some 30 nutritionally-challenged brand-name foods, ranging from Wonder Bread to Ho Hos. In the past year, Hostess racked up $2.5 billion in sales – yet it suffered a staggering $1.1 billion in losses. Thus, Ripplewood Holdings, the private equity outfit that had taken over the conglomerate in 2009, solemnly announced that Hostess simply couldn't survive. Why? Because, executives said, the company's greedy labor unions wouldn't take paycuts to save it.

Wait a minute, the bereaved love ones are to blame? Holy Agatha Christie, that can't be right! Tune in tomorrow for the real story of: "Who Killed The Twinkie?"

"It turns out Twinkies don't last forever," Washington Post," November 17, 2012.

"Back When Chocolate Puck Tasted Guilty, Like America," The New York Times, November 17, 2012.

"A Push to Save the Twinkie," The New York Times, November 17, 2012.

"Goodbye to My Twinkie Days," The New York Times, November 17, 2012.

"Private Equity And Hostess Stumbling Together," The New York Times, November 20, 2012.

"Court Allows Liquidation Of Hostess," New York Times, November 22, 2012.

"At Judge's Urging, Hostess and Union Agree to Mediation," New York Times, November 20, 2012.

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