Hostess threatens to shut down

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Irving, Texas -- The clock is ticking for one of America's most iconic snack brands.

At close of business tonight we could be saying goodbye to Hostess Brands, Inc.

The company says it will shut down and liquidate unless enough of its striking bakery workers return to work. The strike started November 9 over a contract dispute.  30 percent of the company's workers walked off the job when Hostess threatened to slash wages and benefits.

The hope is that workers will end their strike and save childhood favorite snacks like Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Zingers. If not, Hostess officials warn the company will go to court to file a motion to wind down the company and sell its assets. If that happens, 18,000 jobs would be lost.

“We don’t have the financial wherewithal, nor the manpower, to sustain operations through a strike,” said Chief Executive Officer Gregory Rayburn.

Hostess closed three of its 36 plants permanently Nov. 12, blaming the strike, and about 13 plants are operating “unsustainably” because of worker shortages, Rayburn said.

Hostess has been struggling to play in the ever growing snack market, as it tries to focus on healthier foods.  The company owns a number of well-known brands, including Twinkies and Ding Dongs, along with Wonder, Nature’s Pride and Home Pride breads. It could sell them off piecemeal, but the list of possible buyers is short.

Since 2004, Hostess has filed bankruptcy two times.