Sad news in the world of snack foods – Hostess has announced they are ceasing production, a move that means the closure of 33 factories and the loss of about 18,500 jobs after struggling to keep up with rising labor costs and the changing tastes of consumers.
But it's just the latest financial trouble for a company that was, at one time, the largest wholesale bakery in the U.S. Founded in 1930 as Interstate Bakeries, it originally sold loaves of bread to grocery stores. And while they currently produce everything from Ding Dongs to Wonder Bread, their most famous product is unquestionably the Twinkie.
Which bring us to tonight's number: 500 MILLION. That is the number of twinkies that are produced every year.
Twinkies are absolutely everywhere. Store shelves across the country and around the world are overflowing with them, and their pop culture power is undeniable – they've had cameos in films like Die Hard, Ghostbusters and Zombieland. When Sammy Davis Jr. visited "All In The Family," Archie Bunker served him a Twinkie, calling it "the white man's soul food."
But it's not just popular culture – the Twinkie has played a role in other walks of American life. In 1978, San Francisco supervisor Dan White tried to use the "Twinkie defense" after killing the city's mayor and Harvey Milk. And in 1986, a Minneapolis City Council candidate was indicted for serving Twinkies to court the senior citizen votes. "Twinkiegate" actually led to the passage of the Minnesota Campaign Act.
And while Hostess does also make an apple pie, there is an argument to be made that the humble Twinkie is the most American of treats.