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On November 16th, 2012, the bakery company Hostess announced that the company had filed a motion in United States Bankruptcy Court to obtain permission to cease business and sell off their assets. The news came amidst a worker’s strike that had taken hold of approximately 6,600 employees in 24 of its 33 baking plants across the United States. A closure message was put up on their website, directing vistors to a new page outlining the details of their liquidation. Online, fans of the brand reacted on social media and began selling the company’s products on auction sites looking to make a profit.
Founded in 1930, the Interstate Bakeries Corporation launched and acquired dozens of other brands over several decades, including the 1995 acquisition of Taggart Bakeries, the original creator of Wonder Bread and Hostess snack cakes including Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos. After recovering from its first bankruptcy that lasted over five years from 2004 to 2009, the company rebranded itself as Hostess Brands, Inc. However, just over two years later in January 2012, the company filed for a second Chapter 11 bankruptcy. After some executive changes, the company had to reevaluate their employees’ wages and benefits, attempting to make large cuts in their employees’ pay in order to save their pensions. However, these talks did not go well and in November, approximately 6,600 employees who are members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union went on strike.
As the news broke, Twitter users began tweeting in dismay, with 26,807 tweets mentioning Hostess between 9:15 AM EST and 10:15 AM EST on November 16th. Tweets about Twinkies, one of the company’s most well-known brands, peaked between 11:14 AM EST and 12:14 PM EST with 20,371 mentions. Several internet culture blogs and news sites featured stories on the Twitter response to Hostess’ shutdown including Mashable, The Times-Picayune, the Detroit Free Press and the New York Times. Politico compiled a series of tweets from politicians and journalists, including one from Senator John McCain (shown below).
Twinkies maker Hostess closes – what will we do without deep fried Twinkies at the #Iowa State Fair?— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) November 16, 2012
On Tumblr & Reddit
With the tags Hostess and Twinkies, Tumblr users expressed their displeasure with the company’s folding via image macros. Additionally, a single topic blog called RIP Twinkies launched, sharing photos of the cream-filled sponge cake and its mascot, Twinkie the Kid. A handful of posters used content from the 2009 comedic horror film Zombieland, in which Woody Harrelson’s character Tallahassee (shown below) spends most of the film searching for the last box of Twinkies left after a zombie apocalypse.
Buzzfeed published a series of 31 Instagram images of either stock piles of Hostess goods or empty shelves in stores where they would normally be found. As some people began hoarding the snack cakes, others began selling them online via auction sites like eBay. As of 7:30 PM EST on November 16th, there were 3,044 results for “twinkies” on eBay, with the most expensive auction priced at $2,500,000.00. Despite many of the auctions beginning at $0.99, some price gougers sought to sell the products from anywhere from $5000 (shown below, left) to $200,000 (shown below, right). However, a Hostess spokesperson stated that they plan on selling the brands, hoping they would continue to be produced by other companies.
NOLA/Times Picayune – Twitter remembers #Twinkies after Hostess Brands announces shut down