The Sweetest Comeback Ever

By: Annie Burnham and Natalie Hansen

The beloved Hostess Twinkie is back. Two empty boxes later … We’ve got the skinny on the new baby cake.

Annie: Last Wednesday, Natalie and I (Annie) went on an adventure in search of a box of Twinkies. What started out as a simple trip to Walmart turned into a desperate search for just one box of Twinkies. And we did it for you, College of Business students.

On Monday, July 15, Hostess Brand LLC, now owned by Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co, returned Twinkies to store shelves. As we looked around Walmart, we couldn’t even find a Hostess display. What kind of welcome back party was this for the beloved Hostess delights?

Finally on a tiny shelf at the front of the store, we found the Hostess products  . . .  and no Twinkies.

A Walmart employee, noticing our distress, came up to us and said, “All of the Walmarts in town are sold out of Twinkies. We’re waiting for another shipment.”

All of the sudden, this wasn’t a simple work assignment – this was a quest to find a box of Twinkies. Were we going to find any Twinkies in this town?

Our second attempt to find Twinkies was at a King Soopers — another disappointing stop. We were informed that the store was also sold out, having just taken down a large Hostess display that had been emptied by Twinkie-lovers of Fort Collins.

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Our last stop was the Safeway on Mulberry Street. We walked quickly toward the bakery, hoping that there would be Twinkies around the corner. Our excitement when we spotted the Hostess table was a measure above ridiculous. We were tempted to load our arms full of boxes and carry them over to the cashier, like pirates who had finally found their buried treasure. We felt a bit like Tallahassee did at the end of Zombieland, when he at long last got his hands on one of the crème cakes.


Instead, we got two boxes so everyone in the office could partake of the “new” Twinkies.

Upon our return we were greeted with cheers and open palms . . . Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration. But our pilgrimage around town to find a box of Twinkies was entertaining to tell.

Now for the moment of truth: the Twinkie taste test.

Natalie: The consensus around the office was that these new, improved Twinkies tasted like … Twinkies. I only ate one Twinkie (three) for the novelty factor, and I don’t feel like I ever need to eat a Twinkie again.  Not surprisingly, most of us also felt like we’d swallowed a brick after consuming two or three of them. Though the little cakes still taste like you remember (and still bring the sugar headache and crash you remember), we observed some changes.

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Upon opening a new box of Twinkies, you may notice a few differences. Namely, the yellow sponge cakes are a bit smaller. A recent CNN Money article by Chris Isidore states that the weight of a 10 pack of Twinkies is now 13.58 ounces, down from 15 ounces. This also means that the treats now have fewer calories.  Isidore notes that a Hostess spokesperson has stated that the weight was actually changed by November 1st of last year (right before production halted on November 16th), so this isn’t a new development.

What is new, however, is that Twinkies are now one step closer to making the urban legend about them lasting forever true. Hostess has changed up the recipe, and the cakes now last 45 days, as opposed to the old 26. Candace Choi at USA Today mentions that Hostess is also offering to freeze their products before shipment, so that retailers may stamp on their own expiration dates.

Some changes that Hostess has made have not been well received. According to another CNN Money piece, only a portion of the 18,500 positions that were lost when Hostess went bankrupt last year will be returning – just about 20 to 25 percent. While Hostess used to employ their own truck drivers, distribution will now be outsourced to independent trucking firms. Only 1,800 workers will be used in each factory to produce the Hostess products, where 2,500 were used before. This has left many with questions on the new management’s decisions.

However, it’s apparent from our excursion to find a single box of Twinkies that Hostess products are flying off the shelves. The public has missed their Twinkies. For now, the “Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever” campaign seems to be working. Disappearing from the market for a while may have been just the boost that the decades-old brand needed; the “new brand” uses the exact same packaging and style.

Not all of the Old Hostess products are available yet; according to Hostess’ website, we will have wait a little longer to get back SnoBalls and Zingers. Time will tell if Hostess’ downsizing will be outweighed by a marketing campaign rooted in nostalgia, and if the brand as the whole will be able to remain in the market for years to come.

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