The Rebirth of Twinkies: Now for Dudes — and Suddenly Everywhere

Twinkies are back, but this time, they’re not necessarily for moms to pack in their kids’ lunchboxes. They’re for bros.

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Courtesy of Hostess Brands LLC

The snack cake has returned—with a new attitude.

Twinkies are back. But this time, they’re not necessarily destined for kids’ lunch boxes. The new target market: Young adult males, a.k.a. “bros.”

Today marks the beginning of Twinkies’ triumphant return to store shelves. Eight months ago, Hostess Brands – which makes Ho Hos, Ding Dongs, and numerous other iconic snack cakes, as well as Twinkies – fell into bankruptcy thanks to a combination of poor management, high pension costs, and changing consumer preferences. Production of fresh Twinkies ended in November.

But when word of the golden snack cake’s demise got around, social media sites were flooded with expressions of dismay and disbelief. Soon the dwindling supply of Twinkies began selling on eBay at a steep premium. Suddenly, we weren’t taking Twinkies for granted; it turned out that Americans loved Twinkies all along and were appalled that the cream-filled sponge cakes might disappear forever.

That outpouring of goodwill for the brand persuaded private equity firm Apollo Global Management and C. Dean Metropoulos and Company to buy the company’s cake division, in March, for $400 million.

How could the company, and the snack cake, be saved? Wary of alienating long-time Twinkies customers, Metropoulos and his two sons, Daren and Evan, promised not to mess too much with the product itself, at least for the time being. But everything else was in play. First, the new owners replaced union employees and significantly streamlined distribution; instead of delivering Twinkies directly to stores, the company now ships to retailer warehouses – a shift that expanded the number of retail stores selling Twinkies from 80,000 to 100,000.

That move also reflects a new target market. Whereas the company used to focus distribution mainly on grocery stores, where parents shop for items to put into school lunches, the company now plans to sell Twinkies through some 110,000 convenience stores, up from 50,000 under the previous owners. Why? Because that’s where the bros are. “We want to go beyond just the loyal fans to some of those people who should be fans,” says Dave Lubeck, executive vice president at advertising agency Bernstein-Rien, which created Hostess’s new advertising campaign. “So we’re really trying to move beyond the grocery store consumers into the c-store target, which is a younger male.”

The ad campaign created for the Twinkies re-launch reflects a younger, more aggressive style. The slogan, “The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever,” has a 20-something dude feel to it. An accompanying social media campaign called prepareyourcakeface.com asks people to post Vine videos of themselves getting ready for the Twinkies relaunch.

Some industry experts have questioned whether Twinkies can appeal to a younger audience that’s grown up with food pyramids and calorie stats on everything they eat. But Hostess is betting that college-aged males will respond. “A huge amount of mom marketing, especially in the food sectors, is geared toward health and nutrition,” says branding expert Rob Frankel. “There’s not much you can say for health and nutrition in a Twinkie. So generally, the lowest hanging fruit for a company has been young males.”

Of course, Hostess wants to have it both ways, and is hoping that the irreverent message will appeal to women with families as well. “Moms shopping in grocery stores today speak the same language as their kids,” says Lubeck. “So if we spoke more with that kind of attitude — the attitude that maybe you’d see in young males today — we think that we get both audiences.”

The long-term challenge, however, is convincing millennials — male and female alike — to become regular Twinkies consumers once the sugar rush of the relaunch has subsided. Brand consultant Simon Mainwaring says the research on millennials suggests that they are attracted to brands that project social responsibility and health consciousness — neither of which feature prominently in the new marketing campaign. “What they’re doing makes sense, but from a long-term strategy point of view, market drivers won’t reward companies that don’t have a basic level of interest in the consumers’ well-being,” he says. “What I see happening with Twinkies is a competition between nostalgia and nourishment.”

There are hints that the company is looking into healthier Twinkie options. But for now, the millions of Twinkies available on store shelves today are virtually the same ones that have been around for decades – just with a different attitude, bro.

21 comments
edlf
edlf

Has Bloomberg approved the return of the Twinkie?

blisterpeanuts
blisterpeanuts

"fell into bankruptcy thanks to a combination of poor management, high pension costs, and changing consumer preferences."

Actually, they closed down directly because of a bitter strike by the bakers union.  Even the Teamsters tried to persuade the bakers to go back to work but they simply would not give in on the benefits fight.

Everyone deserves good benefits, but if the company can no longer afford it because of falling demand for their products or whatever, the employees should recognize and adapt.

JoseMartinez
JoseMartinez like.author.displayName 1 Like

I have been photographing the lavas ocean entry on the big island for 15 years. the adventures were beyond words.i have been blown up by magma explosions,caught on fire, crews quit, sank my first boat out there, and others assorted wild times. through all this  Twinkies have been with me EVERY trip I made. so I am very happy that they are back, andlooking forward to my next adventure from my boat the VAMONOS 2 out of pohoiki bay, east Hawaii, big island. Twinkies rock!!!! aloha jose

JVonPittenstien
JVonPittenstien like.author.displayName 1 Like

Me and the bro's eat each other's Twinkees all the time.  We just can't get enough of the tasty cream filling.

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

" The new target market: Young adult males, a.k.a. “bros.”"

just for the record since the author doesn't seem to understand the term, but not all young adult males are "bros," just like not all young adult males are straight or white or right handed 



epynephrin
epynephrin

@cjh2ndSeconded. As a 20-something male who regularly mocks bros, I'm miffed to be lumped in with them. 

Then again, this is Time Magazine, home of "Millennials are Selfish."

rodical
rodical

@epynephrin @cjh2nd  You totally missed the dual aspect point of the "Me Me Me Generation" story, didn't you?


SamuelBurdge
SamuelBurdge like.author.displayName 1 Like

The only real story here, other than fatties now, again, have that much more to be fat about, is the diruption of jobs for hard working Americans, the loss of factory jobs for hard working Americans,  the loss of delivery jobs for hard working Americns, the loss of good pay and good benefits for hard working Americans and loss of reporting for all Americans in general:

"First, the new owners replaced union employees and significantly streamlined distribution; instead of delivering Twinkies directly to stores, the company now ships to retailer warehouses – a shift that expanded the number of retail stores selling Twinkies from 80,000 to 100,000."


Read more: http://business.time.com/2013/07/15/the-rebirth-of-twinkies-now-for-dudes-and-suddenly-everywhere/#ixzz2Z7622v00

pjb0515
pjb0515 like.author.displayName 1 Like

@SamuelBurdge It's a global market, deal with it.  If you are really that worried that other countries can do all of our work better, cheaper, faster than us then maybe we don't deserve what we have.  Stop complaining about other people and find a way to make yourself more valuable, not devalue other people.

SamuelBurdge
SamuelBurdge like.author.displayName 1 Like

All of this of course means less taxes and less consumer money going out into the economy...cheers

blisterpeanuts
blisterpeanuts like.author.displayName 1 Like

@SamuelBurdge Sorry but the owner of a company gets to decide how to run it, where to run it, and whether to shut it down.  It's like you and your car.  You own it, you get to decide where to drive it, whether to sell it when you're ready to get a new one, and so on.  It's called the principle of private property and it's enshrined in the Constitution.

People who feel they can dictate to private companies how to run their business are really living in the wrong society.  They should move to, I don't know, North Korea?  Cambodia?  Cuba?  Whatever dregs remain of the socialist/Marxist world.

Hostess maybe made some poor managerial decisions, but they were also hurt by declining demand for this type of sweets, and their previous union agreements just were not working out.  Teamsters refused to deliver cupcakes and bread on the same truck???  Bakers refused to pay into their skyrocketing health fund???  Come on, guys.  You have to give a little.  I'm sorry those people lost their jobs, but they have to step up and take a little responsibility for their own actions.

SamuelBurdge
SamuelBurdge like.author.displayName 1 Like

Of course, I bet they tweaked the recipe a little to save money as well, cheaper product means more money for the fat cats,,, yeah...enjoy your cheaply produced, cheap tasting, and cheap labor twinkies

KevinMichaelO'Connor
KevinMichaelO'Connor like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@Derek79 @SamuelBurdge You are entirely wrong.The unions took repeated Voluntary cuts until the company finished their secret bankruptcy arrangments...Among which were golden parachutes for the high level managers.This evil management treachery resulted in no jobs...And stolen pension money.Try not to be so gullible...maybe you'll keep Your job longer before they come for you.

Derek79
Derek79 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@epynephrin I am pretty sure we have a country full of people like this.

Derek79
Derek79 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@SamuelBurdge You can't seriously be that stupid.  The unions are the one who forced them to close.  That results in no jobs.

FrankBurns1
FrankBurns1 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

I didn't eat them before, and this  pull-and-release marketing ply is not going to change anything for me.