Twinkies selling like $15m hot cakes
A cashier rings up boxes of Twinkies at a store in Denver. Photo: Brennan Linsley
Ebay is being buried under a mountain of Twinkies, America's favourite spongy, sugary treat, after the owner went out of business.
Since Hostess Brands announced it plans to liquidate and sell its products until supplies are exhausted, sweet-toothed US shoppers have been scooping up Twinkies to get a fix of their beloved snacks. Supermarkets are running out and those who missed out are pushing up prices on eBay.
More than 12,000 Twinkie lots are listed on the online retailer, some with prices as high as $15 million.
Late last week shoppers emptied the shelves of Twinkies at a Jewel-Osco store in Chicago.
"We may have a few things left, but pretty much we're out of our Hostess stuff," Paul Knoblock, assistant store manager, said in a telephone interview.
Among more realistic offers than the million-dollar-plus sales, a 10-pack of Twinkies was available on eBay yesterday for $24.99 and four 10-packs were listed for $99.99 on the online retailer's website. A 10 Twinkie pack usually costs $5.
Hostess products, particularly the golden, cream-filled Twinkies cakes, are deeply ingrained in American pop culture and have long been packed in school children's lunch boxes.
Hostess, which also makes Wonder Bread, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, plans to fire more than 18,000 employees and liquidate assets after a nationwide strike by bakery workers crippled operations. The 82-year old maker of snack cakes was undone by the strike after changes in American diets led to years of declining sales while ingredient and labor costs rose.
Chief executive Gregory Rayburn says the company's brands may survive under a new owner. "Hopefully, someone will buy the brands, and some of the brands can live on, but that's a pretty small consolation for people who are out of work," Mr Rayburn said.
Supervalu, the third-largest US grocery-store chain, said Twinkies sales had jumped.
"We are definitely seeing an increase in customers purchasing Hostess products and expect this will continue as news about the company spreads," Mike Siemienas, a spokesman for Supervalu, said. Hostess delivers its food directly to stores, so there is no inventory in Supervalu warehouses, he said.
"We will only have the products while supplies last," he said. .
Keith Dailey, a spokesman for Kroger, the largest US grocery chain, said in an email that the company typically doesn't comment on vendor bankruptcies and he hasn't heard of an increase in Hostess sales.
"Of course it is still early," he said.
Hostess, which has about $2.5 billion in sales and is one of the largest wholesale bakers and distributors of breads and snack cakes in the US, filed the request with the Bankruptcy Court in New York early on Friday morning. A hearing on the matter is set for today.
"We'll be selling the brands and as much of the infrastructure as we can," said company spokesman Lance Ignon. "There is value in the brands. But some bakeries will never open again as bakeries."
Mr Ignon said the company made final deliveries on Friday of products made on Thursday night.
Bloomberg, with Reuters and BusinessDay