Friday, November 16, 2012

No more Twinkies?!??

Is suburban Schiller Park about to lose its claim to fame – namely, being the location of the old Continental Baking Co. where a baker came up with a concoction meant to be an out-of-season replacement for Strawberry shortcake.
TWINKIES: 1930-2012?

In short, James Alexander Dewar came up with the concoction that we now think of as “the Twinkie.”

THE YELLOW CAKE stuffed with vanilla crème that got dumped into so many a child’s bagged lunch at school (including many of my own, except for those moments when my mother would pick up a box of Zingers instead).

Anyway, the Twinkie is in the news because of a labor dispute that has a company saying they’ll go so far as to shut down all their plants that make Twinkies, rather than give in to the outrageous demands being made by the union that represents the bakery workers.

Personally, I can’t remember the last time I ate a Twinkie (although the other night, I saw a re-run of “All in the Family” where Carroll O’Connor’s “Archie Bunker” character lamented the loss of a Twinkie when his lunchbox got crushed by a 1-ton crate of machine parts that fell atop it).

The Twinkie has just enough of an iconic status that the mere threat that we will never again be able to buy a box of the snack cakes could get people all worked up into a frazzle!

WILL WE HAVE Twinkie fans picketing the union halls where workers are saying they aren’t going to make any further concessions because they think it is the incompetence of corporate interests that have caused the company to have its financial struggles?

It makes me wonder if we’ll get a real-life version of that episode of “The Simpsons” where fans of a McDonald’s-like McRib sandwich lamented the last one ever made – and actually held an auction for the rights to own it!
Those are Twinkie stains!

Will we see a mad rush on supermarkets in coming days, as people try to snatch up every single Twinkie in sight so they can have a stockpile and postpone the inevitable (no more Twinkies?!?) for as long as they can?

And how will Chicago White Sox fans deride the ballclub from Minneapolis, Minn., if the phrase "Twinkies" no longer has any pop culture meaning?

YES, I'M GOING overboard with the melodrama here. Largely because I think the whole dispute is a nonsense one. Particularly when Hostess Brands, Inc., set the 4 p.m. deadline for concessions by the union – or else face the closures of the bakeries where Twinkies are made. Some workers caved in, but company officials were being coy about whether enough did to satisfy them.

People would lose their jobs right before Thanksgiving, and would be unemployed during the Christmas holiday season. At a time when the unemployment rate is steadily declining, they’d be willing to do their part to shoot it back up.

Of course, who’s to say how hard-and-fast the deadline was? Even public relations types hired by Hostess Brands to make their public pitch admit there might be some flexibility.

All I know is that as I write this commentary, we’re at “H-hour” with no word as to whether the company has the nerve to actually do away with the Twinkie because their workers (the members of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International union) won’t return to work from the strike they went on last week to protest the 8 percent pay cuts they’re being asked to take – along with reductions in health insurance and pension benefits.

THIS LABOR DISPUTE is unique in that the Twinkie is being used as a political weapon.

But on the other hand, it is so typical of management/labor negotiations – in that management seems to want to believe it is entitled to make cuts, and that people ought to be grateful that anybody would want to hire them at any salary rate.

Creme-filling, and chocolate. What more do you want?
It triggered something in me to learn of one union member who told the Reuters wire service that he’d literally make more collecting unemployment insurance rather than taking the pay and benefits cut that the company is demanding of he and his colleagues.

Who’s willing to sacrifice the Twinkie? It might not be that much of a loss. Because personally when I was a kid, I always preferred the Suzy Q.


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