Maybe those Mayan apocalypse guys were right.
The Hostess snack cake company says it’s going out of business (and has already shut down its website), so panicked Americans are rushing to the Internet, either in search of recipes promising to let them re-create their favorite industrialized pastries at home, or to eBay, where hopeful entrepreneurs (or tongue-in-cheek pranksters) started offering Hostess cakes at wildly inflated prices as soon as the bankruptcy proceedings hit the news.
One established seller primarily sold glassware, lamps and other yard-sale tchotchkes until news of the Hostess bankruptcy, when he added to his listings several 10-count boxes of Twinkies and Ho-Hos for $59.99 each (free economy shipping included). So far, one buyer has pledged to pay him $59.99 for ten Twinkies.
No one has made the opening bid of $10 for four Twinkies plus their original, ripped-open ten-count box, let alone paid $595 for the Buy it Now option, and it’s even less likely that seller pingsing4, with only four feedback points to his name, will find takers willing to shell out $5,000 for a single Twinkie, even though 18-month financing is available to buyers with approved credit.
Still, a glance through eBay’s completed listings show there are at least several dozen people desperate enough to, for example, pay $59.95 for four boxes of Chocodiles (and the seller upped the price on his remaining inventory, to $99.99 for four boxes), while the seller offering a dozen boxes of chocolate creme Twinkies at $14.99 apiece has, at press time, already sold four of them.
It’s possible this panic-buying might all turn out to be for nothing; even if Hostess goes bankrupt, some other bakery might buy the rights to the brand and its recipes. In 2000, when striking Hostess bakery workers caused what the New York Times dubbed a “snack famine,” batches of Twinkies sold on eBay for up to $5,150 apiece. (Let’s hope the buyers ate them quickly; a Twinkie executive in 2000 warned that, despite urban legends claiming Twinkies can last forever, the company only keeps them on the shelf for seven to ten days before they start going stale.)
And anyone old enough to remember 1985 might recall the “New Coke” fiasco, when Coca-Cola announced it would alter its classic Coke recipe. Soda fans then, like Hostess fans now, paid enormous markups to stockpile a supply of the “old” product until the company relented and re-introduced “classic Coke” a few months later. (Cynics, however, say Coke didn’t commit a blunder, but deliberately engineered the New Coke “controversy” to mask the fact that it was still altering its classic recipe – changing the sweetener from sugar to high-fructose corn syrup.)
Still, these comparisons don’t really work: neither Coca-Cola nor the circa-2000 Hostess company were at risk of completely vanishing as corporate entities, as Hostess is today.
Now, if you’ll excuse us, we need to run down to the grocery store, in case they still have Ho-Hos.
Photo via NotionsCapital/Flickr