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They’re acting crazy, but that is why it’s called the Twinkie Defense

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POSTED November 19, 2012 11:33 p.m.

Pardon the expression, but what kind of ding dong goes out and buys 16 boxes of Twinkies and Ding Dongs and then goes on eBay and advertise three boxes for $300?

And who in their right mind would pay that price?

The entire Hostess Brand fiasco and the reactions it has spurred have triggered a microcosm of what ails America.

First of all, the people running the company have been in a fantasy world for the last six years or so, losing serious money. Instead of digging in and cutting costs by shutting plants that weren’t profitable or coming up with new products for a changing market they apparently kept their fingers crossed while spending all of their time looking for  a buyer.

Labor - just like electricity and ingredients - is a big cost. So finally they turn to the union and asked for wage and compensation concessions.

The bakers union - and not the Teamsters - thought Hostess was bluffing. So they did what any union would do that sees just one side of the coin. They went on strike. The company, already in the throes of bankruptcy, decided its best option was liquidation.

That put 18,500 jobs in jeopardy.

The bankruptcy court judge - seeing the folly of all this - directed the company and union to try to mediate a solution.

At least the judge is acting like a grown-up.

The landscape has changed. Specialty bakeries, healthier alternatives, and stiff competition from regional brands are making it hard for old-line mass production bakeries to remain on solid footing.

At the same time prices are getting squeezed by the market, the cost of production is nailing firms like Hostess. It’s one thing if a company has mountains of money and is trying to squeeze workers for more profit. It’s another thing when they are attempting to avoid closing the doors and pressuring workers to make concessions so they can stay in business and jobs can be saved.

Then there are the consumers.

The world can survive without Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and Wonder Bread. And while it would be sad to see the plug pulled the reaction of some is downright bizarre.

Hoarding Twinkies? Trying to sell Ding Dongs on eBay for 40 times their shelf price? It’s only a snack food, folks. Scratch that, its junk food, although some may prefer comfort food. It’s not like a fine bottle of wine. It doesn’t get better with age. As for it being a collectable unopened, what happens when another company picks up the brand and recipe and starts making Twinkies again? Better yet, what happens if everyone in the unions and Hostess management come to their senses and they start baking again?

That would mean someone who bought a pallet or so of Twinkies for $1,000 thinking they could turn a million-dollar may look like a fool.

But then again, they wouldn’t be as big a fool as whoever may have given into speculative temptation and paid more for a box of Twinkies on the Internet than the cost of a new iPad.

By the way everyone is acting, they’ve gorged themselves on one too many Twinkies.

And - if we are to believe the line that assassin Dan White’s attorneys successfully sold a jury - they have mitigating circumstances for acting irrationally.

They don’t call it the Twinkie defense for nothing.

 

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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