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Staging the “Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever,” Hostess snack cakes officially returned on July 15. Hostess Brands, LLC, executives, family members of Twinkie founder James Dewar and other Hostess fans gathered yesterday to celebrate the historic comeback at the Hostess bakery in Schiller Park, Ill., where Twinkies were born in 1930.
Approximately 100 million snack cakes, including Twinkies, CupCakes and bags of Donettes, will hit store shelves over the first two weeks, as will Zingers, HoHos, DingDongs, fruit pies and mini muffins. SnoBalls and SuzyQs will return in the next few months. Because of overwhelming demand, Hostess says it will have five times more Twinkies on the market during the first two weeks of the comeback than during the same two-week period last year.
The historic milestone comes four months after investment firms Metropoulos & Co., Greenwich, Conn., and Apollo Global Management, LLC, New York, rescued the brand, buying select assets out of bankruptcy and setting in place plans to bring back iconic Hostess snack cakes.
“When Hostess products disappeared last year there was an incredible groundswell of emotion from consumers who couldn’t imagine a world without Hostess snack cakes,” says Hostess Brands CEO Dean Metropoulos. “That’s why we’re here today. America wanted its snacks back–they wanted the original, and we’re honored to make that happen.
“We are committed to investing in this company, reinvigorating these beloved brands, innovating to meet evolving consumer preferences with new products and continuing to bake the high-quality, fresh and delicious snack cakes that have given Hostess its enduring appeal. Judging by the incredible reception we’ve received, Hostess has a very exciting future.”
Retail customers representing more than 100,000 stores placed significant orders in advance of the comeback, with orders skyrocketing as news of the official comeback date broke, according to Hostess. Overall demand reportedly is several times greater than levels experienced in prior years. The bakeries have been running at capacity, but because of the number of orders, not all stores may have all products on shelves immediately.
The “Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever” tagline created for the multimillion dollar integrated marketing, advertising and public relations campaign signals a new attitude for the brand and a push to broaden its appeal.
“Obviously there is considerable nostalgia associated with a brand that for generations has been part of the fabric of America,” says Daren Metropoulos, principal of Metropoulos & Co. “But there is also tremendous passion for the brand today among consumers. This comeback has created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leverage the nostalgic sentiment and, at the same time, reintroduce the Hostess brand with a bolder attitude and a more contemporary voice.”
In connection with yesterday’s events, a Hostess food truck, along with Twinkie the Kid, arrived in New York City’s Rockefeller Center to kick-off a coast-to-coast tour of Twinkie giveaways that will end in Los Angeles in August.
Hostess products are currently being produced in four bakeries: Schiller Park; Emporia, Kan.; Columbus, Ga.; and Indianapolis. Under the company’s new distribution model, Hostess products are delivered to retailers’ warehouses, rather than individual stores. This will enable the company to reach about 160,000 stores by the end of the year, including tens of thousands of dollar stores, club stores, drug stores and vending machines that were previously inaccessible.
“Our goal is as simple as it is ambitious: Wherever consumers can buy a candy bar, they should be able to purchase a Twinkie,” says Dean Metropoulos.
The company’s new owners, which emerged as winning bidders for the majority of Hostess’ snack cake business on March 12, plan to invest approximately $100 million this year making upgrades to bakeries and facilities. In addition, plans are underway to open a fifth bakery next year, at a cost of $75 million to $80 million, in a yet to be determined location.