Hostess Liquidation: What We Learned From Twinkies

In the last week, social media has been abuzz with the news of the liquidation of Hostess, famed company behind brands like DingDongs, Snowballs, and Twinkies. The liquidation comes in light of the company filing for bankruptcy, which is the second time since 2007. While many take to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other sites to document the fall of yet another piece of Americana, some efforts have been made to save what is best described as the "American donut" - Twinkies. The likes of such efforts thus far have been a petition for the "Naturalization of Twinkies" and Mexican bakery company, Grupo Bimbo, expressing interest in buying the iconic brand. Whatever the future may hold for Twinkies, here are some lessons that we have taken away from the impending demise of America's sweet spot.


Keep With The Times

Whether you indulged in Twinkies, or not, one cannot deny how the brand provided a “go to” confectionary fix to satiate any sweet tooth. Unfortunately, as Americans’ waistbands expanded, the focus in the last decade has shifted toward healthier alternatives. This led to many brands – General Mills, Lays, and more - eliminating saturated fats (opting to bake, rather than fry), and limiting their usage of artificial sugars and coloring. McDonald’s probably did the best job in rebranding itself to stay in line with the times. Perhaps the single most brand attacked in the award-winning 2006 documentary “Fast Food Nation” for the obesity epidemic that persists in America, McDonald’s has since made strides in providing healthier options on its Dollar Menu for people to choose from. Aside from still offering a toy, even Happy Meals are healthier, giving children the option of enjoying apple slices instead of French fries, and milk rather than soda. It is because of this that more than a decade after “Fast Food Nation,” that McDonald’s reports even more growth. According to The Daily Beast, “everyday 65 million people eat at McDonald’s restaurants somewhere in the world, more than ever before.” Somehow Twinkies missed the health memo, keeping the same nutritional value (or lack of) since its inception in the 1930’s; which consists of 150 calories, 45 of which from fat, 5 grams of fat, 2 grams from saturated fat, and a whopping 14 grams of sugar, none of which includes dietary fiber.


Be Clear In Your Approach to Social Media

While we applaud Hostess for getting on board with social media, creating a Twitter account back in summer 2010, their approach could have been tweaked a bit to better track insights, interests, and conversations. With iconic brands like Twinkies, Zingers, and DingDongs, one would think that those brands have enough power for their namesake to stand alone on social sites like Twitter and Facebook. Rather than allowing these brands to live under the umbrella of @Hostess_Snacks, Hostess opted to group the conversations together under their company social media account, only offering the occasional retweet and mention of news about their other brands. Of course, Twinkies took up the majority of the conversation. However, if Hostess did a better job in aggregating content, letting their company Twitter serve as a RSS feed of sorts for their various other brands, then this would have not only introduced supporters to all of the Hostess brand family; but, also would make for better control of the conversation. We love Twinkies, but they shouldn’t have all of the shine. In short, plan, plan, plan ahead before jumping into social media. Any plan can be tweaked, reworked, and bettered to communicate the vision that you want your brand to achieve online.


Take Part In the Conversation/ Fun Others Have With Your Brand

Some of the most memorable conversations about Twinkies are how they served as fodder for jokes in popular culture. From jokes about their shelf life to queries into how they actually did get the cream in the center, Twinkies are iconic and somewhat urban legends. However, for all of the pranks played on Twinkies (our favorite is Cake Spy’s 2008 article “50 Ways to Kill A Twinkie”), Hostess hardly took part in capitalizing on the fun. Can you imagine how incredible an Instagram campaign would have been for this? We can.


In the end, we learned that no brand can survive the digital age without adapting to the times, planning a direct approach to tackling social media, and having fun with the online chatter. All in all, Hostess we will miss the good times. And if we’re banking on Twinkies being able to survive a nuclear holocaust, then hey, Twinkies we expect more good times to come.