More than a decade has passed since Ted Kamel rolled out his tweaked version of the fried Twinkie at the East Texas State Fair.
Hostess Brand Inc. announced Friday that it would shut down, ending production of Twinkies, Ho Hos, Ding Dongs and other products that have been staples in school lunch boxes and workplace break room machines for decades.
The Irving-based company made the announcement in a corporately worded statement posted on its website.
“Hostess Brands Inc. today announced that it is winding down operations and has filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking permission to close its business and sell its assets, including its iconic brands and facilities,” the website read. “Bakery operations have been suspended at all plants. Delivery of products will continue and Hostess Brands retail stores will remain open for several days in order to sell already-baked products.”
Kamel, a former state representative whose Ted Kamel Foods annually fries up all manner of amusing greasy delights at the East Texas State Fair, said he is hopeful that the Twinkie somehow will survive.
“In America, we always use the occasion to take care of things that are of deep importance to us, like the Hostess Twinkie,” he said.
Twinkies were created in 1930, and a Brooklyn, N.Y., restaurant is credited with being the first to fry them and introduce them to state fairs, according to various websites.
“I'm the one who perfected it,” Kamel joked of his fried Twinkie contribution, pointing to his chocolate-covered fried Twinkies as an example. “I look at other people's ideas and take it to a higher level.”
“That was one of my favorite childhood treats,” said Brandi Mahoney, 25, a graduate communication student at UT Tyler.
Ms. Mahoney said she was probably 6 the first time she tried one, and it was a staple in her lunch as a kid.
“I want a cake full of Twinkies,” she said of the food for her upcoming graduation.
Marilyn Albert, UT Tyler's career services director, has an unusual stipulation for her Twinkie eating. It's allowed only on road trips.
She said she got to a certain point in life when she needed to cut out sweets. So she decided to limit herself to certain occasions and time periods. She eats Oreos only in February and Twinkies only on genuine road trips.
Before every road trip, she'll buy the Twinkie two-pack.
“I like just the moist spongy cake, and that cream in the middle is so fine,” Ms. Albert said. “It's so light and fluffy.”
Jim Marshall, 52, of Winston-Salem, N.C., said growing up he ate a Twinkie every day. He remembers the baseball cards on the back of the boxes.
He said he was sad to hear about Hostess closing, especially because of the 18,000-plus workers who will be out of work. However, he said, he expects the brands to be picked up and continue.
“It's one of those things that I think they said even after the end of the world, there'll be ants, roaches and the Twinkies will survive,” he said.
Hostess in its announcement Friday cited a work stoppage for the permanent closing of three plants earlier in the week. The company also cited failed union negotiations and the rejection of an offer “designed to lower costs so that the company could attract new financing and emerge from Chapter 11.”
“Hostess Brands is unprofitable under its current cost structure, much of which is determined by union wages and pension costs,” the company stated.
“We deeply regret the necessity of today's decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” Gregory F. Rayburn, chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.”
In addition to Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, company products included CupCakes, Sno Balls and Donettes in addition to bread brands such as Wonder and Nature's Pride.
Kamel said he doesn't expect the Twinkie's demise to dampen his overall fried-food sales at the East Texas State Fair.
“If all else fails, there are a couple of cream-filled snack items we could use just fine,” he said.
But, alas, Kamel was saddened at the possible loss of a sentimental favorite.
“You'll never replace the Hostess Twinkie,” he said.