Twinkies, Bimbo & ‘Made In The USA’

January 02, 2013

Twinkies, Bimbo Made In The USA.jpg

It’s inevitable that when I’m working on an issue of JOI, I end up seeing all sorts of headlines in the mainstream news relating, at least tangentially, to the topic at hand. Two items in particular caught my eye this time around.

Snack-Cake Apocalypse
This one caught pretty much everyone’s eye, because it’s one of the single most important issues facing our nation as we head to print. No, not the “fiscal cliff”—who cares about that? I’m talking about something much bigger here: the fate of the Twinkie.

News reports suggest that Mexico’s somewhat-comically named Grupo Bimbo SAB (already steward of U.S. national treasures Sara Lee and Entenmann’s), might buy Hostess as well, apparently in order to build itself into some sort of unhealthy baked-goods juggernaut.

“Hooray!” I thought. But more importantly, “Yum.” Immediately after news of the potential Twinkiepocalypse broke, my local grocery store’s shelves were completely denuded of the unnatural little yellow sugar-bombs. It was as if a plague of snack-cake-loving locusts had already descended, devoured everything Hostess in sight and left on their merry way.

So this news would not only guarantee a perpetual supply of America’s favorite snack cake, but give us the added bonus of changing the name from “Hostess Twinkies” to “Bimbo Twinkies,” which is WAY more fun to say—and perhaps just a little bit naughty.

But then Bloomberg News ruined it all with a story quoting Hostess Brands CEO Gregory Rayburn dismissing the very idea as “absurd.” You know what’s absurd, Mr. Rayburn? America’s most-beloved snack cake winking out of existence; that’s what’s absurd.

How will we survive the Mayan Apocalypse without Twinkies’ everlasting artificial freshness? (OK, granted, if you’re reading this, the Dec. 21 Mayan Apocalypse obviously didn’t occur, but STILL! For all we know, there could be an Aztec or Egyptian or Sumerian Apocalypse in the works.

Wait! The Mayan Empire extended into Mexico. Bimbo is one of Mexico’s largest companies. What do they know that we don’t??? OK, before I turn this into a synopsis for Dan Brown’s next novel …

Moving On. Really.
My second-favorite headline ap­peared on The Boston Consulting Group found that more than 60 percent of Chinese consumers will pay extra for items—10-80 percent extra!—that come with a “Made In USA” sticker, and about half of those surveyed said all else being equal, they would prefer U.S.-made goods to those made in China. They like us, they really like us!

Given all we hear about trade deficits and how the U.S. is hemorrhaging cash in the general direction of China, this seems like really good news. China’s burgeoning middle class currently numbers more than 300 million. And this study suggests that roughly 180 million of them—which is more than the population of Russia—are jonesing for American-made products, mainly because they believe the quality is better than that of Chinese products.

In other words, while Americans spent their Thanksgiving holiday grabbing Chinese-made goods as cheaply as possible from the shelves of Walmart, the Chinese middle class was ponying up extra cash for the privilege of buying all the stuff Americans left on the shelves.

If only they’d left some Twinkies.


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