After an 8-month hiatus, Twinkies snack cakes return to store shelves today, made under new ownership and with a slightly different recipe that extends their shelf life by about three weeks.
Also returning are Ding Dongs, CupCakes and the rest of the Hostess snack family, now owned by private equity firms Apollo Global Management and C. Dean Metropoulous & Co. The firms bought the brands for $410 million when Hostess abruptly shut down amid labor band financial troubles in November.
Hostess brands lineup includes Twinkies, CupCakes, DingDongs, Donettes, Fruit Pies and HoHo's (Click Image To Enlarge)
While the Schiller Park bakery once owned by Hostess is again making the cakes, the 15,000 union workers that were once employed are gone as are many of the jobs there.
The reduction there mirror the smaller scale of the whole Hostess company. When it is fully staffed in three months, it will have some 1,800 employees in the United States, Hostess President Rich Seban said. Previously, the workforce was more than 10 times that. The number of bakeries for Hostess products has slimmed down to four from 11 since last year's shutdown.
Hostess bakery factory workers on strike (Click Image To Enlarge)
To herald the comeback of Twinkies, the Kansas City, Mo., company's new owners are spending "several million dollars" on a marketing blitz using social media, Vine videos, billboards, building walls and a website called Prepare Your CakeFace. Street teams are handing out T-shirts and "I Saved the Twinkie" buttons. A food truck is visiting county fairs, music festivals and other locations.
Wal-Mart, in an attempt to get a jump on the expected rush, said it stocked certain stores with Twinkies on Friday, with all its other stores in the contiguous U.S. selling the treats Sunday — a day early.
One of the last shipments of Twinkies made by Hostess Brands was unpacked at a Jewel-Osco grocery store in Chicago on Dec. 11. Hostess has sold the snack brand and four others for $410 million. (Click Image To Enlarge)
Hostess has an ambitious new business strategy in place for Twinkies: "to be sold wherever candy bars are sold," Seban said.
"We want to capitalize on the nostalgia of the brand, but we also want to make sure we're relevant to this generation and not just the generations of the past."
Twinkie marketers are entertaining proposals to sell the treats at sports stadiums, with continental breakfasts at hotels, at movie theater concession stands and on cruise ships.
And, the company has plans in the works to update its snack cake line to include products that are more appealing to younger consumers, lighter on the calories and possibly gluten free. Don't rule out new treats flavored with peanut butter or packaged in bite-sized portions, said executives at Hostess
The new Twinkies' have some differences from the original tried and true formula that fans have come to know and love. The snack's shelf life has extended to 45 days, almost three weeks longer than the 26 days the former Twinkie was supposed to stay fresh.
COMMENTARY: I will be several weeks before Hostess ramps up production to produce meet the demand for Twinkies, CupCakes, DingDongs, Donettes, Fruit Pies and HoHo's. I was at Safeway earlier today, and they still did not have Twinkies in stock. Look forward to seeing them on the grocery shelf.
Courtesy of an article dated July 15, 2013 appearing in the Chicago Tribune
Thwaites’ project was intended to raise awareness of the massive network of materials and production required to make simple household objects in an industrial economy--a contemporary reinterpretation of I, Pencil. It was intentionally absurd, but watching him struggle through the quixotic process, I kept thinking:
"Dude, just use different materials!"
Zaffran’s toaster is itself a reinterpretation of an elementary technology--the brick oven--using the common materials of contemporary construction. Zaffran says.
"The pita bread as a staple food led me to the use of simple and basic building materials. It is very easy to make out of ready-made cement block."
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Zaffran’s toaster would still require some struggle if you put it to the Thwaites test, but with its economy of parts, it would be far easier to build. It bypasses the plastic problem entirely. Besides, if the industrial economy does collapse, there will be plenty of rebar and cement blocks lying around to provide the raw materials. This attitude of making clever use of available materials, rather than futilely trying to create an impossible copy, strikes me as being closer to the heart of good design.
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COMMENTARY: What a great idea for a weekend project for the do-it-yourselfer who loves rustic baking like they still bake pita bread in Greece, Iran and Middle East. In the mood for some freshly baked pita bread, checkout this receipe.
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In Greek: πίτα, pronounced PEE-tah
Many recipes for pita bread require cooking at very hight heat, and home ovens don't always do the best job. This recipe makes soft, white pita rounds that should be brushed with olive oil and grilled, heated in a skillet, or toasted in the oven before using and serving. Serve wedges of this soft bread with dips, as a wrap for sandwiches, and in other creative ways.
Prep Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 21 minutes
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 cup of warm water
4 cups of bread flour
2 teaspoons of salt
1 cup of warm water
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Dissolve in the yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup of warm water and set aside, covered, for 15 minutes. Dissolve salt in the remaining 1 cup of warm water.
In a large mixing bowl, add flour and make a well in the center. Add yeast mixure and salt water. Knead with hands for 10 minutes in the bowl. Add olive oil and continue to knead until all oil is absorbed. Shape into a ball in the bowl, cover, and place in a warm area to rise until doubled in volume, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Punch down the dough and knead for 5 minutes more.
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C), and lightly oil baking sheets.
Take pieces of dough slightly larger than an egg and roll out on a floured surface to a thickness of 3/8 to 1/4 inch. (For larger or smaller pita bread pieces, take more or less dough). Prick the bread with a fork in several places.
Place on baking sheets and bake at 350°F (175°C) on the lowest oven rack for 2-3 minutes, then turn the pitas over and bake for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a tray covered with a clean dishtowel, with another clean towel on top. When thoroughly cooled, pitas can be stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or frozen.
Before using, brown in a lightly oiled frying pan for a few minutes until browned on both sides.
Courtesy of an article dated January 11, 2011 appearing in Fast Company Designand an a great Greek pita bread receipt appearing in About.com