It’s another sign that our youth is gone. No, I haven’t acquired some new malady, or if I have, I don’t know it yet.
No, I’m talking about the empty shelves where the Wonder Bread is supposed to be. And the Hostess Cup Cakes and the Twinkies.
The demise of Hostess Brands was the result of a labor dispute, but more than likely traceable to lots of other problems, including being owned by a bunch of investment firms and hedge funds, not folks whose life-long job was baking bread or making cupcakes.
It was a shock to me when Hostess Brands announced last week that it was shutting down its 33 bakeries and 565 distribution centers nationwide and that more than 18,000 employees would lose their jobs.
How can a company with $2.5 billion (that’s with a “b” and it’s not a typo) in annual sales go out of business? Who knows? What I do know is that it’s the loss of goodies I’ve been eating as long as I can remember.
We didn’t eat much Wonder Bread, though, when I was a kid, because we were a poor family and a store brand was cheaper. My mother would only get Wonder Bread once in a while – usually after lots of begging from me.
I knew Wonder Bread had to be better because I listened to the commercials on my favorite television show in the early 1950s, “Hopalong Cassidy.” Wonder Bread helped build strong bodies eight ways, a fact seemingly lost on my mother.
Although our family didn’t get a lot of Wonder Bread, we made up for it in the snack department. It seems like my sister and I always had Hostess Cup Cakes and Twinkies for our lunch boxes in elementary school.
I preferred the cupcakes, probably because they were chocolate, but I was a happy kid eating either one. One of the niftiest things about them was that they came wrapped two to a package. It was like having two desserts after my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
As an adult, I remained partial to the chocolate cupcakes, but my wife, Jenny, would buy the orange Hostess Cup Cakes with orange icing … except during the time when we lived in South Carolina. Hostess products were hard to find there; all of the stores stocked something called “Little Debbie.”
So when we would travel out of state, we would have to check out gas stations so Jenny could find Hostess orange cupcakes. She would stock up and put them in the freezer.
Last Saturday morning when I told Jenny that Hostess Brands was closing down, she headed to the convenience store.
She was too late. The orange cupcakes already were gone. So were the Twinkies and the chocolate cupcakes.
I’ve read in a couple places that Hostess may be selling its assets to the highest bidder, which means that another company could pay for the right to make Twinkies and some of the other most-popular brands. (Jenny worries, though, that she was the only one who liked the orange cupcakes, so they may truly be history.)
So when I was going to the grocery store, I stopped to ask Joe what drinks he needed. He thought for a while, and asked for ginger ale. We think that’ll be the next to go.
And Monday morning I put my last slice of Wonder Bread in the toaster. I nearly teared up as I savored the last buttery bite.
T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.