Naples customers lament a 'world without Twinkies'

This Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, photo, shows, Hostess Twinkies in a studio in New York. Hostess Brands Inc. announced Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, that it is warning striking employees that it will move to liquidate the company if plant operations don't return to normal levels by Thursday evening. The maker of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread said Thursday it will file a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to shutter operations if enough workers don't return by 5 p.m. That would result in the loss of about 18,000 jobs. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

This Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, photo, shows, Hostess Twinkies in a studio in New York. Hostess Brands Inc. announced Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, that it is warning striking employees that it will move to liquidate the company if plant operations don't return to normal levels by Thursday evening. The maker of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread said Thursday it will file a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to shutter operations if enough workers don't return by 5 p.m. That would result in the loss of about 18,000 jobs. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

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Hostess Mini Muffins must be feeling mighty rejected right now.

That's about all that was left on store shelves Sunday at area grocers and discount stores after people who are nostalgic for Hostess' popular Twinkies, Ho Hos, Ding Dongs and Yodels snapped up the snack cakes that are no more.

The Irving, Texas-based Hostess announced Friday it was asking a federal bankruptcy court for permission to close down after a bitter strike and union fight. Nearly 18,500 workers are becoming unemployed after the company suspended operations at 33 bakeries and business is winding down at 565 distribution centers. Hostess intends to liquidate its assets to the highest bidder,

Most shoppers queried Sunday about Hostess snack cakes and Wonder Bread didn't seem crestfallen, several bashed unions for the company's downfall and one suggested that President Barack Obama could bail out the company. Others have faith in a comeback.

A few packages of Hostess Mini Muffins or coffee cakes could be gleaned on store shelves; one lonely package of Hostess Strawberry Cupcakes was left at the Target store at Airport-Pulling and Pine Ridge roads.

"No one's going to let Twinkies die," said Mike Barone, heading into the Walmart off U.S. 41 near Immokalee Road midday Sunday. "I think they will be back."

One of the company's largest unions, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, earlier in the month initiated a nationwide strike against Hostess after rejecting a last offer for a new contract with reduced wages and benefits. The company had given the bakers until 5 p.m. last Thursday to return to work or face the company shutdown.

Linda Ramsey, who said she was a "Ho Ho person," said the days of unions having a role for American workers is over since so many manufacturing jobs have moved out of the United States.

"It's sad, unfortunately it's happening all over the place," she said. "The unions have destroyed everything."

In between handing out samples of an ice cream cake in the bakery department at the Walmart Superstore off Immokalee Road near Interstate 75, Betsy Grant speculated about Hostess' demise.

"I'm just amazed that something that has endured that long, an American icon, is going to disappear," Grant said. "My mother used to put Hostess cupcakes in my lunch. And Wonder Bread we had with peanut butter. (My) kids had Twinkies."

Nick Rapp didn't hesitate before putting a package of Hostess Zingers in his shopping cart, for nostalgia's sake. He remembers eating all the snack cakes when he was a kid but the Zingers were his favorite.

"I guess the one company Obama should bail out is Hostess," he said.

Ontario, Canada, resident Bill Low, sitting on a bench outside the Walmart near Immokalee Road, said it's a dog-eat-dog world today with numerous competitors and the simple reality of what happens when supply exceeds demand.

"That's how these things happen. Where are they going to get another job?" he said of the 18,000 Hostess employees. He said unions are part of the problem, too, but he didn't blame them entirely.

"It was a losing situation," he said. "They don't have any cards to play, they weren't playing from a position of power. Jobs are hard to come by and the pay's no good."

Duane Billington, a local civic activist who was shopping Sunday at the Super Walmart on Immokalee Road near Interstate 75, said the Hostess shutdown shows what can happen when people and unions push too much.

"If an industry can't compete, it has no choice. It's a good idea to be thankful for what you got," Billington said. "A world without Twinkies. They will be replaced by something else."

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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