Twin pack of Hostess Twinkies (© PAUL J. RICHARDS-AFP-Getty Images)
Fear not, snack-cake lovers, the Twinkie is back. It's just probably not in the last place you left it.

After labor strife closed Hostess plants back in November and put Twinkies on hiatus unitl Pabst owners C. Dean Metropolous and private equity firm Apollo Global Management (APO) bought the rights to them in March, Twinkie fans have been eagerly anticipating the cream-filled cake's return.

That moment comes this weekend, when Twinkies, Hostess Mini Muffins and fried Fruit Pies hit the shelves exclusively at Wal-Mart (WMT).

Yep, that's right. Despite making its bones as a convenience store treat and restructuring its distribution and angering workers just to get its products into more of those grab-and-go shops, Wal-Mart gets first crack at selling the snack cakes at about 1,600 stores starting Friday. About 3,000 of Wal-Mart's 4,000 U.S. stores should have them by Sunday morning, a day before Hostess had said Twinkies would start hitting shelves nationwide.

Also, in a coup for Wal-Mart, the new owners of Hostess have said the giant retailer won't be getting shipments of pre-frozen Twinkies going out to 10% of retailers upon request. That freezing process is supposed to expand Twinkies' freshness date from 45 days -- still an improvement over their original 26-day lifespan of roughly a year ago -- to something interminably longer.

Does this mark a demographic shift for the Twinkie? Are the kids who used to grab a pack and a soda or slush at the local 7-Eleven or Circle K now grown adults grazing for sugar in the wide aisles of Wal-Mart? Has the colorful, creamy sugar rush of youth given way to fluorescent-lit adult resignation?

It's probably too soon to tell. America will get a better look at its snack cake appetite when Hostess distribution expands and the company starts selling Coffee Cakes, Ho Hos, Orange CupCakes, Suzy Qs and Zingers in August. Retailers and consumers alike may reach a less-spongy conclusion about snack-cake culture by the time Sno-Balls hit shelves in the fall.

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