4:59 PM PST, November 16, 2012
The shelves at the Wonder Hostess Bakery Thrift Shop in Glendale Friday were sparse as customers made runs on Twinkies, Ho Hos and Ding Dongs after the iconic snack food company asked a judge for permission to go out of business and lay off 18,500 workers nationwide.
Twenty-five workers at the Hostess shop and distribution center on San Fernando Road, and another 138 bakery workers at a plant in Atwater, will lose their jobs. Others, including delivery drivers, will also be impacted, although the total number has yet to be determined, said Hostess Brands spokeswoman Tammy Taylor.
“Everybody will eventually lose their jobs, some sooner than others,” Taylor said, noting that a small group of employees are being kept on board to clean up and close the facilities.
[For the Record, 5 p.m.: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated the plant was in Glendale. The store and distribution center are in Glendale, the plant is in Atwater.]
By 11 a.m. Friday, many of Hostess’ most popular treats, including Twinkies and cupcakes, had been scooped off the shelves. Signs apologizing for the lack of supplies hung inside the store.
The company is blaming its decision to shut down on a labor strike by members of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, but Americans’ appetite for junk food has been waning in recent years. The company has filed for bankruptcy twice this decade, the last time in January, the L.A. Times reported.
After hearing of the Hostess bankruptcy, Los Angeles couple Matt Cook, 26, and Jasmine Smith, 22, decided to make a trip to the factory storefront for a last-minute purchase of Chocodiles -- a chocolate-covered sponge cake filled with creme -- Wonder Bread, cupcakes and Honey Buns.
“It reminds me of my childhood,” said Cook, recalling how his mother bribed him with Chocodiles in exchange for good grades in schools.
Glendale resident Charlie Ruiz, 63, walked out of the shop carrying a bag full of regular- and chocolate-crème filled Twinkies.
“I love Twinkies,” he said. “Since I was a kid, my mom used to buy me this.”
The discount store outlet will be open for about a week to 10 days to sell off remaining product, Taylor said.
As for the impact on the city, Philip Lanzafame, Glendale’s officer for economic development and asset management, said that while the layoffs and store closure are surely significant for those involved, the building likely won’t remain vacant for long.
“We have a very, very small vacancy rate in the [San Fernando Road] corridor. That property most likely will have a new user that will provide some sort of contribution to the local economy,” Lanzafame said Friday. “I don’t think it’s a stranded property or it’s a distressed property that’s going to sit fallow for years and years."
-- Brittany Levine and Veronica Rocha, Times Community News