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November 26, 2012

Bakeries, stores reflect on Twinkie’s legacy

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

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Bakeries, stores reflect on Twinkie’s legacy
Customers shop at a Wonder Bread Bakery Thrift shop in Troy Nov. 17. Hostess Brands Inc., the maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread, announced Nov. 16 that it intended to go out of business. But that plan was interrupted by labor mediation talks at press time.

Where’s the cream filling?

That’s the question thousands of metro Detroiters were asking when Texas-based Hostess Brands Inc. announced Nov. 16 that it intended to shut down for good and liquidate its assets.

The company had earlier struggled to get out of bankruptcy and recently was on the receiving end of a baker’s union strike. The announced closure, if finalized, would affect 33 bakeries, 570 bakery outlets and roughly 18,500 U.S. jobs, the company said.

Meanwhile, Twinkies, Suzy-Q’s, Ho Hos and Wonder Bread are no longer in production and are leaving local store shelves.

Jerry Monterosso, general manager of Guastello’s Village Market in St. Clair Shores, said his last Hostess shipment came in Nov. 15. And since then, he had numerous customers stop in to buy up the sweet products, as well as Beefsteak rye bread.

Monterosso said Hostess satisfied a niche that cannot be easily matched.

“My shelves are just about bare,” he said. “I’ve had people who said they haven’t eaten a Twinkie in 20 years, and they bought two boxes.”

Robert Mazey, supervisor of Cathy’s Homemade Goodies in St. Clair Shores, said his store sells all kinds of baked goods, but nothing really like the Twinkie. He guessed that changes in shoppers’ eating habits may have played a role in the dessert’s troubles.

“I think that there was a point (in) time when the Twinkie kind of reigned, but the health kick kind of took over,” he said.

Sandi Seaman, executive pastry chef at Morning Glory Coffee & Pastries in Grosse Pointe Farms, called the Hostess news surprising and called Twinkies “American staples.” For those who are craving a sugar fix, she said she might be able to help.

“We have whoopie pies, which are obviously like a Hostess CupCake. They come in chocolate and yellow,” she said. “Our cupcakes have all kinds of fillings in them, so they can be alternatives.”

At Dakota Bread Company in West Bloomfield, store owner Jennifer Wilson said her store offers a gourmet cupcake that could satisfy the hunger of Hostess fans.

“It’s one of our good sellers,” she said. “It reminds people of Twinkies. We call it a gourmet yellow cream-filled cupcake that resembles a Twinkie flavor.”

Despite the news reports of Hostess’ doom, the famous sponge cake treats could still reappear on grocery shelves someday.

A federal bankruptcy judge succeeded in getting the business and the baker’s union to enter mediation, thus suspending any liquidation proceedings at press time; although reports indicated the hearing did not go well. Other companies have reportedly shown interest in buying the intellectual property for Twinkies and other Hostess products.

To learn more about Guastello’s Village Market in St. Clair Shores, call (586) 771-1187 or visit Guastellos villagemkt.com. Cathy’s Homemade Goodies in St. Clair Shores may be contacted at (586) 285-0500 or at Cathyshomemadegoodies.com.

Morning Glory Coffee & Pastries in Grosse Pointe Farms can be reached at (313) 647-0298 or at www.facebook.com/MorningGloryGrossePointe. Learn more about Dakota Bread Company in West Bloomfield at www.dakotabread.com or at (248) 626-9110.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.