Twinkies: the classic snack is back ... soon

Twinkies: the classic snack is back ... soon

July 13th, 2013 by Jeff LaFave in Local Regional News

Hostess Twinkies are coming back.

POLL: Are you glad Twinkies are coming back?

Twinkie history

* 1930: First Twinkie created by James Dewar, vice president of Continental Bakeries. He made the banana-flavored snack as a solution to strawberry shortcakes, which were only available if strawberries were in season.

* 1941-1945: A U.S. banana ration during World War II causes a recipe change to vanilla cream instead of bananas. The result is tremendously popular and becomes the staple Twinkie flavor.

* 1970s: Iconic mascot "Twinkie the Kid," a cowboy-themed iteration of the confection, becomes the face of the Twinkie line.

* 1979: Dan White, convicted killer of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and gay rights activist Harvey Milk gave the infamous "Twinkie Defense" in court, stating that consuming a large amount of junk food - including the yellow sponge cake - resulted in depression and his murderous actions.

* 1985: "Twinkiegate" - A Minneapolis city council candidate is indicted for bribery after serving Twinkies to his constituents. The charges were later dropped, but a campaign finance law (a.k.a. "The Twinkie Law") comes in the incident's wake.

* 2005: A remake of Hollywood classic "King Kong" brought the banana Twinkie back for a limited-time promotion. Total sales reportedly jumped 20 percent, and some banana Twinkies are still being produced.

* Nov. 2012: A costly strike involving 5,000 Hostess bakers forces the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. More than 18,000 jobs are lost as a result.

* June 2013: Hostess Brands, the repackaged product of two new managing companies, announces plans to restart snack cake distribution.

They're back. (Almost.)

Twinkies, the American snack food cake classic, return to stores nationwide Monday as a repackaged Hostess Brands rebounds from eight months of strike-related bakery closures. More than 50 million Twinkies will be on the move within the next two weeks.

Store managers at chain grocery stores such as Publix and Bi-Lo said they wouldn't know for sure if Twinkies would be available in their stores to match the national July 15 return date.

"I know that there was another vendor that was taking them over," Hixson Publix store manager Jim Groober said Wednesday. "Generally, they get back with us, and they haven't yet."

But Chattanooga junk-food aficionados should not despair. Retail giant Wal-Mart will make the treat available this weekend -- even after Hostess had asked retailers to wait until Monday. Twinkies will be available at around 1,600 stores today and about 3,000 stories Sunday.

Some details remain unclear about the confection's second coming after new investors purchased Hostess Brands in March for $410 million. Twinkie the Kid now reports to Apollo Global Management and C. Dean Metropolous Co., which own Carl's Jr. restaurants and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, respectively.

"There is a tremendous passion for the Hostess brand," Hostess spokeswoman Hannah Arnold wrote in an email. "Consumers have made their voices heard; they want the Hostess products they know and love back."

The second coming of the Twinkie will not come at a premium, though. Arnold says a classic 10-count box of Twinkies will cost $3.99, the same price as before.

The company introduced a new Twinkie that could last 45 days on Nov. 1, 2012, nearly double the 26-day predecessor that lasted decades before, but the company filed for bankruptcy two weeks later, and supply soon ran out.

Hostess plans to roll out the longer-lasting cake again Monday, but the company hasn't announced publicly any formal recipe change.

The treats are being reintroduced to the American public through what Hostess calls "The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever."

"And judging by the overwhelming reaction to the comeback we've already seen, Hostess has a very exciting future in store," Arnold wrote.

About 10 percent of all new Twinkies being shipped out for Monday's debut will be frozen, but retailers must specify if they want the frozen boxes.

"Ours will not be frozen," said Jennifer Amos, a tobacco and candy bar purchaser for Mittchell Grocery Corp., a grocery distributor based out of Albertville, Ala.

Mittchell distributes to more than 200 independent Southeast grocery stores that cater to individualized choices in their product selection.

"It's a fresher product not frozen," Amos said. "It's a whole lot longer process for our stores if they're frozen."

Twinkiemania is starting to run wild. Since Hostess announced Twinkies' return on June 24, fans have been asking about the snack's fate, as well as the Ho Hos, Zingers and CupCakes sidekicks slated to return.

"I have gotten a real education over the past two weeks," Amos said.

That time -- two weeks -- seems to be the magic number.

Buehler's Market in downtown Chattanooga, which buys through Mittchell, isn't expecting its first batch of Twinkies until July 29, two weeks after the yellow sponge cake's announced marquee return.

"They'll be off to a big start," store manager Charlie Morton said. "It just takes time to get them out of the warehouse."

WhetherTwinkies are available in Chattanooga today, Sunday or Monday, loyal fans have been waiting.

"I am going to be lining up to get the Twinkie on Monday," said James Mahon, an Ireland native who moved to Chattanooga in 2012.

"It's one of the most momentous moments in sugar history. I don't think I'd camp out overnight because my girlfriend would hit me, but I think it's important."

Contact staff writer Jeff LaFave at or 423-757-6592.