Hostess Brands bakery closings cause gold rush in Ogden, across U.S.

Nov 17 2012 - 8:05am

Images

Patti Thompson looks in the window of the Hostess Thriftshop as others wait to enter the store. (KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
After word that Hostess Brands Inc. had closed all of its bakery operations, people hit area stores to stockpile their favorite snack cakes. Here, people load up on boxes of Twinkies at the Hostess Thriftshop at 2557 Grant Ave., in Ogden on Friday. (KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
Patti Thompson looks in the window of the Hostess Thriftshop as others wait to enter the store. (KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)
After word that Hostess Brands Inc. had closed all of its bakery operations, people hit area stores to stockpile their favorite snack cakes. Here, people load up on boxes of Twinkies at the Hostess Thriftshop at 2557 Grant Ave., in Ogden on Friday. (KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner)

OGDEN -- Hostess Brands Inc. announced Friday it had closed all of its bakery operations, putting 243 Ogden-area Wonder Bread bakery employees out of a job and sending scads of people to local stores in search for that one last box of Twinkies.

"I have never seen them move like this," said Mike Child, store manager for Wangsgards Market in Ogden.

Child said he had people calling the store Friday, requesting that Hostess products be set aside for them. "They want their Twinkies," Child said of the run triggered by the closure, which included one female store customer filling her grocery cart with nothing but Hostess products.

Child said the store began experiencing a run on all of its Hostess products early Friday morning.

"The rate they are going out today, I don't think they will last the week," he said.

Other area grocers -- Harmons in Ogden and Kent's Market in Roy -- also reported Hostess products flying off the shelves.

"The Twinkies were all gone by 10 a.m. (Friday)," said Jeff Johansen, store director for Kent's Market. "I can tell you our Hostess shelf is near empty. I have never seen anything go this fast."

However, at the Wonder Bread Thriftshop at 2557 Grant Ave., in Ogden, customers lined up single file inside the store 25 to 30 deep to pay $6 for three boxes of Twinkies.

Customers filled their arms with boxes of Hostess product, mainly the Twinkies and cupcakes.

But while those in line kept their eyes on their bounty as they waited to pay, their hearts were with the 567 Ogden/Salt Lake City-area Hostess Brands employees who lost their jobs.

"It's just sad," said Rebecca Roper, of Riverdale.

She said the closure comes at a terrible time for the workers, with Christmas so close.

Roper said she is hoping another bakery will start to carry the Hostess Brands. But even then, said the young mother cradling a baby in her arms while pushing a cart full of product, the baked goods just won't taste the same.

Others in line also lamented the plant closure.

"It is a ripple effect. It is so sad," said Ogden resident Teri Richards, concerned how the jobs lost at the Ogden bakery will impact other area businesses providing support services to Hostess.

Richards said she personally will miss the aroma of fresh baked goods wafting into downtown Ogden each morning.

"It just filled the city," she said.

"It's an American company, another one that is gone," Layton resident Brad McIlrath said, adding he was surprised to hear the Wonder Bread bakery would be closing.

He said the bakery is a long-established business that produces baked goods that are "uniquely American."

Hostess Brands Inc.'s decision to close its bakeries across the country eliminates 18,500 plant positions, said Anita-Marie Laurie, spokeswoman for Hostess Brands Inc., based in Irving, Texas.

The company made the closure announcement early Friday because of the crippling effects of its striking union workers, Laurie said.

"Our bakeries have stopped baking," said a dour Laurie. "Our operations were crippled by the strike. This strike is what forced the company to liquidate."

The Hostess Brand thrift shops, each employing several workers, will remain open across the country for seven to 10 days, or while product remains available.

In May, Hostess mailed Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act Notices to all of its 18,500 employees. The notices warned of a possible downsizing, according to information distributed by Hostess.

The company sent 580 of these notices to workers in Utah.

Cream rises to the top on eBay

eBay sellers were quick to try to capitalize on the Twinkies hysteria Friday, snapping up boxes of the cream-filled sponge cakes and other popular Hostess snack items and putting them up for sale.

Asking prices Friday afternoon on "buy it now" auctions, in which you just buy the dessert without bidding, were anywhere from $20 to $100 for as few as 10 Twinkies in a box.

Actual auctions, in which people submitted bids, were bringing much lower prices, usually $7 to $10 a box.

One lot of 10 boxes -- 100 Twinkies -- in Largo, Fla., sold for $100 plus shipping.

A seller in Mobile, Ala., did his best to pitch his box of 10 Twinkies, which, Friday afternoon, was sitting at $5 with one bid.

"As soon as I heard, I rushed to the store and fought my way through the crowd to buy what could be the last box of Twinkies EVER," he wrote in the sales description. "Now, I am putting this box up for sale! Yes, YOU could be the owner of this coveted item."

A seller in Chandler, Ariz., was asking $100 for a box of 10, saying it was "a 'MUST HAVE' Holiday gift for the one who has everything! What better way to show how you feel than with some of THE LAST TWINKIES PRODUCED!"

-- Standard-Examiner reporter Charles F.  Trentelman

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