New Twinkies aren't exactly the old Twinkies

Cost-cutting measures started by the snack cake's previous owner mean the revived version is less than it seems.

By Jason Notte Jul 15, 2013 3:18PM
The Twinkie is back, but at what cost?

In the days leading up to Monday's nationwide relaunch of Hostess Brands' cream-filled sponge cakes, it became clear that this wasn't going to be the same Twinkies that disappeared during a brand-killing labor dispute in November. The workforce making them has been slashed, the cakes themselves are being shipped frozen in some instances, and now there's word that they might be smaller than their predecessors.

Both CNNMoney and USAToday report that the 10 pack of Twinkies that weighed 15 ounces for much of 2012 and in earlier years now weighs 13.58 ounces. As was the case with the Twinkies pre-freezing plan, the new Hostess Brands ownership group of Pabst owners C. Dean Metropolous and private equity firm Apollo Global Management (APO) -- which bought the rights to Hostess Brands in March -- blamed Twinkies' downsizing on the failing company that came before them.

The snack cake's original weight loss apparently took place just before the previous Hostess Brands went bankrupt in November. Boxes in stores at that time weighed 13.5 ounces, which makes the current boxes slightly heavier. However, considering the new parent companies are a budget beer brewer and a private equity firm, it should come as no surprise that each would try to squeeze as much sweet profit as possible out of their spongy new acquisition.

Twin pack of Hostess Twinkies (© PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)Despite owning a brand that has shed its union presence and has fewer employees and factories than it did in November, the new owners saw little need to roll back the cost-cutting measures of their predecessors. As a result, folks who waited in line at Wal-Mart (WMT) last weekend for the first bites of the revived snack cake got not the Twinkies of their youth but the Twinkies of a cash-strapped company on the brink.

The thinking is simple: The consumer outcry over Hostess' demise last year led Hostess' buyers to believe that consumers would embrace the cakes' return in any form. Since their previous owners' tweaks were designed to beef up the margins anyway, why not combine them with the reduced overhead of a downsized infrastructure and workforce and gorge on the profits?

It's not a conspiracy -- it's a business plan. Older generations will recall Coca-Cola (KO) using a similar tactic to swap sugar for cheaper high fructose corn syrup in its original recipe back in the 1980s. It was the New Coke gambit, and Twinkies' makers used that vein of nostalgia to bleed buyers again.

So congratulations, social media-savvy snack cake lovers. You got your Twinkies back. They're smaller, possibly pre-frozen, and not creating as many jobs as they used to. But what were you supposed to do? Settle for Little Debbie Cloud Cakes?

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Jul 16, 2013 1:14AM

Three years ago Hostess came to the union members and told them that the company was doing bad and if they could take a pay cut and freeze pensions.  Unions agreed to help company out and pensions were froze and took an 8% pay cut.  Then became public that upper management raises and bonuses.  Next, company went back to the union and asked for more pay cuts.....union said hell no.  There was an union vote and decided not on their watch.


Question to all....If your boss asked you to take a cut with your pension and pay to help out because the company was doing poorly and you agreed.  Then you find out your boss just got a big **** bonus and comes up to you and asks for another pay cut....WHAT WOULD YOU DO??


All of you union haters have to know the whole story.  The unions could of taken another cut but they stood together and said no...knowing full that it could cost them their jobs.  In bankruptcy there was still $300 million missing that was handed out between management.


Learn whole story before taking the easiest route and blame the unions.  The management of Hostess were greedy and got the company in trouble...not the unions.  Instead of throwing blame at the wrong people read and find out who got millions and who got laid off.

Jul 16, 2013 12:05AM
If they were smart enough to bring back the recipe they used in the sixties they would never have to worry about sales. The cake was so moist it melted in your mouth and the filling was a real cream filling, not this sugary crap. They are a dry mess and full of gritty sugar. They cut their noses off when they changed the recipe. And making them smaller, which they have already done once, just sealed there fate.
Jul 15, 2013 8:14PM
It's all part of a marketing ploy. Six months from now they will reintroduce the "Original" Twinkie and try to charge three times the price for it as a luxury item.
Jul 15, 2013 8:56PM

Liked 'em as a kid when my taste buds liked anything sweet. Now, they just taste like sugary crap.

Jul 15, 2013 7:34PM
perfect fit the new twinkies and walmart
Jul 16, 2013 6:45AM

Twinkies are now just like everything else made these days.  They are smaller, cheaper quality, and cost exactly the same or even more.


No big surprise here.

Jul 15, 2013 9:04PM
Did they stop making the "Ding Dongs", those chocolate with white cream things?  Some were coated in hard chocolate too.  I liked those more than Twinkies.
Jul 15, 2013 7:46PM
Ahhh bugger Twinkies. I want Hostess golden cupcakes and orange cupcakes. That's where it's at.
Jul 15, 2013 7:30PM

Anyone that didn't think they were going to be smaller different, must have blinders on...


Jul 15, 2013 11:13PM
And Much Like New Coke "New Twinkies" will die a horrible death and the company will have to either drop them entirely or take a mulligan and actually make Tinkies
Jul 15, 2013 7:41PM

can't even get a fair deal buying a heart attack!  , bury 'em ,  Eat real food and we will all benefit .


Jul 15, 2013 9:02PM
Whatever.   No one's making you buy them, so who cares?
Jul 15, 2013 9:06PM
And how much is the scum CEO and his cabal making? Tons. America. A self fulfilling hypocritical whorehouse. 
Jul 16, 2013 1:10AM
They can "stick em" for all I care.....When I see downsized products at the market.....I don't buy....Keebler is learning this tough lesson..
Jul 15, 2013 11:14PM
What about Ho Ho's and Suzy Q's. They were always better than Twinkies.
Jul 16, 2013 2:17AM

I fixed my families craving for twinkies, cupcakes and such.. I just bought a twinkie baking pan with the recipes and the filling bag set.

Now I can make any flavor cupcake with my kind of healthy filling.  Can also use a chocolate glaze on top.  The flavor combos are endless.  At least I will know what goes in them and they will be cheaper too..   Found my set on Ebay.  

Jul 15, 2013 6:06PM
Welcome back Hostess from all your 420 fans.
Jul 15, 2013 10:07PM
I am quite certain the folks that ate twinkies before will eat them again regardless of size. (They actually will feel entitled to eat more of them now)
Jul 15, 2013 9:33PM
Sad that this is what passes for news these days.
A totally bad for you nutrition free mass of oil. sugar and carbs is to the second coming.

Sure plenty enjoy eating them, but I find this hoopla a bit much.
Jul 16, 2013 12:51AM
why oh why?  sniff sniff they dont even taste the same either,  smaller and dryer and not as good,, terrible as  amatter of fact,  you cant change perfection people, you wont kep customer loyalty by changing a product  that was fine the way it was,  glad i bought  5 cases of the old product,, now i can go get my sugar coma started,,,
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