Consumers scramble for Twinkies as Hostess calls it quits

The Sacramento BeeNovember 19, 2012 

20020401 TWINKIES

Hostess Twinkies.

PETE DANIELS

— A mad scramble ... for Twinkies.

That was the scene in Sacramento-area stores Saturday – and even online – a day after Twinkie-maker Hostess Brands announced it is liquidating its operations.

Nowhere was the demand greater than at the Hostess Bakery Thrift Shop on Stockton Boulevard, where workers struggled to keep up.

Business was so brisk that the store's manager was forced to shut the doors temporarily at 1:30 p.m. so employees could restock empty shelves.

Hostess patron John Harvey looked crestfallen after being turned away at the door.

"I grew up eating Twinkies, Ho-Hos and Sno Balls – all the standard stuff," Harvey said. "It will be a loss. We've all grown up with the Twinkie."

Harvey was shopping for his children, and for a deal.

"I suppose we could make do with Little Debbie," he said, referring to a rival brand. "But you can't beat the prices they've had here."

Another dispirited customer was long-time store patron and twenty-something Joaquin Velarde.

He lives several blocks away and remembers shopping at the store with his grandmother as a 7-year-old during her runs for bread and other items to feed men in a Delta labor camp.

"The first time I had a Twinkie? I was so young I can't even remember it," Velarde said. "So, when I heard about the store closing, I was pretty sad.

"My first reaction was to try to get over here as soon as possible … but it looks like I'm a day late."

Shoppers were having the same experiences at markets elsewhere.

At the midtown Safeway on 19th Street, the Twinkies shelf was bare by early afternoon.

Only Hostess Zinger packages were available.

"It's like my childhood is disappearing when things like this go out of business," said Safeway employee Nicole Medeiros.

A long aisle away from the well-picked Twinkies shelf could be found the Safeway brand version of the Twinkie – with the requisite cream in the middle surrounded by yellow cake on the outside.

That shelf was well stocked – with boxes sitting in seemingly undisturbed rows – suggesting that Twinkie brand loyalty may be as long-lived as the Twinkie itself.

The demand for Twinkies was especially brisk online.

By Saturday afternoon, online seller eBay was hosting more than 17,000 active listings for Twinkies.

Bids and prices varied wildly.

Many listings for a box of 10 Twinkies had failed to draw even a first bid; a few drew bids of 15 cents with hours left on bidding time.

Amazingly, one seller's listing asked for $10 million for a box of 10 Twinkies.

That seller promised to deliver the box of Twinkies in a van that displays the buyer's company logo, with $1 million to be donated – in the buyer's name – to a charity of the buyer's choosing.

As of Saturday night, there were no takers.

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