Twinkie, Twinkie, Little Star….

RIP the Twinkie, a nauseating bit of plastic and grease masquerading as an edible treat.

Troublemakers to the end, the Twinkie and Ding-Dong and their “gang” of faux-foods have become yet another contested story in the ferocious and largely fact-free political debate over economic policy. According to the Right, the demise of the Hostess company was brought about by those dastardly unions–at least, the one that refused to accept a second major cut in wages and benefits in order to keep the struggling company afloat. Liberal blogs, on the other hand, place most of the blame on the venture capital company that bought the operation out of its last¬†bankruptcy, pointing out that nowhere in the management structure it put in place can anyone be found who actually ever baked¬†anything.

Now, I have to agree with the liberals that asking for a second round of wage concessions after tripling the pay of the CEO was bad form, if nothing else. Especially since the company was in bankruptcy. But come on, people–there’s plenty of blame to go around whenever a business fails. In this case, let’s choose capitalism.

Markets work because they satisfy consumer demands for goods and services. Markets are inherently risky because consumers often change their preferences, and companies that are not sufficiently nimble at meeting those changed preferences lose market share. At the end of the day, that’s what happened here.

When I still practiced law, I remember another lawyer remarking that the risks of the market system were the reason for the bankruptcy laws; in order to have a system that incentivizes risk, you need a mechanism that allows people to start over when those risks don’t pan out.

The market for snack food has–thankfully–changed. We Americans may be fatter than ever, but we’re also guiltier than ever about eating processed foods that we (now) know are terrible for us. Changes in the food industry have given us choices, including stuff that actually tastes good, and we’ve gotten more selective. The natural foods movement is growing. People actually read the nutritional panels that our socialist government requires.

It was time.

4 thoughts on “Twinkie, Twinkie, Little Star….

  1. “People actually read the nutritional panels that our socialist government requires.”

    Not that I’m against the requirements for nutritunal disclosure, but I really do wonder how widely they are read; my guess would be that campaigns by health-conscious organizations in the media and otherwise have been the primary factor in the swing away from “plastic and grease masquerading as an edible treat”. (That phrase alone certainly influenced my pre- breakfast appetite this early Sunday morning. (: )

  2. Here I have to partially agree with you and partially disagree with you. I don’t know all of the facts leading to the first bankruptcy. Clearly changing consumer demand was a major factor. Labor costs matter, but if the management was unable or unwilling to notice the trends and respond, more blame can be laid to mismanagement.

    My real problem is with round two. From the facts that I do know, I see labor making concessions and trying to help out, but I also see management more interested in feathering their own nests than saving the company. The economics probably doomed the company in its current form, but the culture of worshiping entrepreneur demigods who deserve all and shouldn’t be questioned leaves a huge stink that has nothing to do with decaying food.

  3. No change in sight. Vendors already have “successor” food products lined up. “Golden Sponge Cake (cream-filled)”.

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