The Rise and Decline of Twinkies

Greetings.  As a child growing up in Northern California I recall having a severe case of "Twinkie-envy."  While my parents would try to fill my lunchbox with fruit, carrot sticks and other healthy treats, classmates would come to school with packs of Twinkies, Ding Dongs, HoHos, Sno Balls and Hostess cupcakes–the veritable mother lode of childhood cuisine.  Each perfectly formed, perfectly baked, perfectly preserved and magically wrapped in its own perfect little package.  This was "food" for the ages–depending, of course, on your definition of food and view of the ages. Moist, creamy, sweeter than the very sweetest moments in life–truly a gift from the gods (or at least the god of snack food).  One imagined a Twinkie would stay fresh forever thanks to major innovations in the science of food preservation.  A far cry from the components of my totally unappealing lunch wrapped in totally boring wax bags that kept them somewhat fresh until lunch time. 

One also imagined the wonderful company that created these remarkable taste sensations–and also created Wonder Bread–would itself remain fresh forever… bringing new creations to an adoring nation.

So news that Hostess Brands is once again filing for bankruptcy protection comes as a shock to anyone who believes in the power of sugar, corn syrup, enriched and bleached flour and preservatives.  And to anyone who believes that some companies, just like their products, should last forever even when they decide not to change very much.  Not that the products seem to be the problem according the company's latest statements.  No, the real villain is rising health care and pension costs rather than the changing tastes and health concerns of the earth's inhabitants.  From their perspective Twinkies and their delicious siblings remain popular and have even achieved cult-like status in the vending machines, snack bars and meeting rooms of some of today's leading technology companies.  

Though it should be noted that sales have declined.


We win in business and in life when we realize that eventually all of us need to change.  And when we plan accordingly.