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McKinstry: Hostess declares bankruptcy, but the Twinkie will live on

TWINKIES: According to Reuters, Hostess collected recipes from

TWINKIES: According to Reuters, Hostess collected recipes from connoisseurs to publish the "The Twinkies Cookbook" in 2006. The 50 recipes included Twinkie-based burritos, lasagna, tiramisu, milk shakes and sushi (with dried fruit rather than fish). Deep-fried Twinkies have been a staple at U.S. state fairs. (Credit: Getty Images)

When I was 10, I had no concept of saving any dough.

So the 25 bucks or so that I made every week tossing newspapers onto nearly every front lawn in the neighborhood went straight into the local economy: baseball cards, comic books and the Hostess cupcake.

Most days, it wasn’t soon after the 3 p.m. school bells rang that dozens, if not hundreds of kids, from St. Paul the Apostle School and P.S. 21 converged at Herb’s, a throwback stationery store on McLean Avenue in Yonkers.


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That was in the early 1980s and Herb -- the cigar-chomping guy behind the counter who always wore a dirty white tank top and never seemed to age -- hadn’t changed his store’s motif since the 1950s or '60s. It sure seemed that way anyway.

Whether it was picking up the latest Avengers reading, or the 25-cent Topps pack complete with a stick of petrified gum, Herb was there to tally up a bill that almost always included a cupcake or some packaged sweet treat.

Back then, I didn’t know the name of the Hostess cupcake, nor did its name really matter. It was a cheap cupcake, with cream inside, and easily identifiable with its dark chocolate shell and white squiggly line.

Man, was it good.

Sometimes I cheated with a girl named Suzie Q. Twinkies were down on my food chain, but those blond spongecakes were legitimate currency used in the underground world of the Catholic school’s cafeteria. Much like damnation, they lasted an eternity.

Herb is long gone and the store is now a sushi restaurant. Also gone is the fun of collecting comic books and baseball cards.

Times have changed: Comics are now gazillion-dollar blockbuster movies and you can buy an entire season’s worth of baseball cards in one box. What fun is that?

Baked good are high-end and artisanal. Our bread is whole wheat and gluten free.

It’s no wonder that Hostess Brands Inc. -- the bakers of so many popular goods, including Ding Dongs, Ring Dings and Ho Ho’s -- is having financial problems and sorting out the mess in bankruptcy proceedings in White Plains.

A series of management decisions -- like awarding a handful of executives an 80 percent pay hike while the company was struggling, and an ongoing battle with unionized labor over benefits like pensions and health care -- are the main ingredients in this baker’s mess.

Some people believe bankruptcy is the company’s way of getting rid of its unions, as the Hostess board of directors recently announced it was laying off most of its 18,500 workforce and shuttering its 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers and 570 outlets.

A judge in White Plains on Monday ordered Hostess and its second largest union to go into mediation to try to resolve their differences, The Associated Press reported. That means the maker of Twinkies and other goodies won't go out of business just yet.

Whoever would have thought that making a cupcake could be so complicated? Certainly not its target consumers.

While it’s unclear how this company will emerge, you’ve got to figure the Twinkie will live on. It’s hasn’t reached its expiration date yet.

Tags: Twinkie , baking , cupcake , hostess , memory , ding dongs

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