New Hostess Bringing Back the Snack Cakes

Published in CSP Daily News

Columbus, Ga., bakery re-launch part of effort to re-introduce iconic brands ahead of knockoffs

COLUMBUS, Ga. -- As part of its effort to bring Twinkies back to the American consumer, Hostess Brands LLC, a new company and employer under new ownership, has announced plans to re-launch its bakery in Columbus, Ga. It will resume operations this summer and will produce a full assortment of Hostess' iconic snack products, including Twinkies, Cup Cakes, HoHos and Ding Dongs.

The investment in the Columbus baking facility is being funded by affiliates of Apollo Global Management LLC and Metropoulos & Co., which purchased selected Hostess assets out of bankruptcy in April 2013.

"Over the past several months, we have invested significantly in Hostess and the Columbus facility we acquired. We are focused on re-introducing the Hostess brands and bringing the company's high quality and beloved snack products back to American consumers," said Dean Metropoulos, the chairman and CEO of Hostess.

"We look forward to having America's favorite snacks back on the shelf by this summer," Metropoulos told CSP Daily News in March, adding, "We are also ecstatic to bring jobs back to many cities across the country."

Hostess Brands Inc., Irving, Texas, announced in November that it was shutting down its business and selling its breads and snack cakes. The company's demise came after years of management turmoil and turnover, with workers saying the company failed to invest its brands. Hostess filed for its second Chapter 11 bankruptcy in less than a decade this January, citing costs associated with its unionized workforce.

The company will initially add 200 jobs to the local economy and plans to create a total of more than 300 jobs in the community within the next several years. It will begin actively recruiting production, sanitation, distribution, maintenance engineering and management positions for the Columbus facility at a job fair on April 27.

And none too soon, according to The New York Post. Grupo Bimbo, which owns the Sara Lee brand, is working on a "knockoff" version of Hostess Twinkies, cupcakes and other brands and is aiming to get them onto store shelves quickly to fill the void left by the shutdown of the baker last November, and it wants to get the knockoffs out before Twinkies and other Hostess products return to market.

The "snack attack" has been on Bimbo's agenda for a while, said the report, but the baker had waited see if it could purchase any of the Hostess brands itself, although it got beat out by Apollo Global, while McKee Foods, the owner of Little Debbie, bought the Drake's Cakes brands.

"I'm hearing Bimbo wants to get [the new products] to market within the next month or two," Richard Sheehan, president of New York Teamsters Local 802, told the Post.

Little Debbie introduced Cloud Cakes, its yellow, creme-filled snack cake, two years ago. Other bakers, as well as retailers such as Walmart, Walgreens, Jewel-Osco, Safeway (Dominick's) and 7-Eleven have thier own versions.

Irving, Texas-based Hostess is a leading fresh-baked sweet goods company with brands that include Twinkies, Cup Cakes, HoHos, Ding Dongs, Mini Muffins, Donettes, Zingers and Suzy Q's.