NEW YORK (AP) — Twinkies may not last forever after all.
Hostess Brands Inc., the maker of iconic childhood treats including Ding Dongs, Wonder Bread and Drakes, is winding down its operations after struggling to keep up with rising labor costs and the ever-changing tastes of Americans, who have grown accustomed to a dizzying array of new snacks flooding supermarket aisles every year.
The company, whose roster of brands date as far back as 1888, filed a motion to liquidate Friday with U.S. Bankruptcy Court after striking workers across the country crippled its ability to maintain production.
Hostess CEO Greg Rayburn said in an interview that there was no buyer waiting in the wings to rescue the company. But without giving details, he said that there has been interest in some of its 30 brands, which include Dolly Madison and Nature's Pride snacks. Experts agreed that it was likely the biggest brands would survive.
The shuttering of Hostess means the loss of about 18,500 jobs. Hostess said employees at its 33 factories were sent home and operations suspended Friday. Its roughly 500 bakery outlet stores will stay open for several days to sell remaining products.
Although Hall agreed that it was unlikely anyone would buy the entire company, he said "people are going to look for some fire sale prices" for some of the brands. For now, he expects Hostess products will be on shelves for another week or so.
"Frankly it's tragic, particularly at this this time of year with the holidays around the corner," Hall said, noting that his 6,700 members at Hostess were now out of a job.
The company's demise stoked nostalgia among customers.
Adil Ahmed, whose family still eats Hostess treats during the holidays, said he rushed to the supermarket Friday morning after hearing the news. Growing up in New Jersey, he said his Southeast Asian family bought Wonder Bread to dip in curries and loaded up on sweets from a nearby warehouse for the holidays.
"I have nephews and nieces — we have to pass on the tradition to the next generation," said Ahmed, a 25-year-old union worker in Baltimore. He bought four boxes of Twinkies and other snacks for a family get together this weekend.
Samantha Caldwell of Chicago also took a quick detour on her way to work Friday morning after she heard the news on NPR. The 41-year-old attorney stopped at a CVS store.
She got a package of two Twinkies to have with her morning tea, and another for her 4-year-old son, who has never had one.
"This way he can say, `I had one of those,"' she said.
AP Reporters Stephen Singer and Ashley Heher contributed to this report.
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