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Business takeaways from the return of the Hostess Twinkie

Twinkies snack cakes will be back on sale in the US on Monday. The return of the iconic yellow cakes comes after production was suspended when former parent company Hostess went bankrupt in late 2012. Earlier this year, the part of Hostess that includes the Twinkie brand was bought by C. Dean Metropoulos and private equity firm Apollo Global Management.

The takeaways from the comeback are pretty simple, if depressing for some of the workers involved:

The new owners got rid of unions and cut some workers’ wages

One major change implemented by C. Dean Metropoulos, CEO of the new Hostess Brands who outlined his strategy to the Wall Street Journal, was to get rid of union jobs (paywall). Previously, one of Hostess’s biggest problems was distribution. That’s because it employed about 6,000 drivers who couldn’t deliver bread and cakes on the same truck because of complicated union work rules. That meant Twinkies were delivered to only about one-third of the country’s 150,000 convenience stores.

Now Hostess will have non-union drivers who will be able to deliver Twinkies to almost all the convenience stores in the country. The union jobs also weighed down the old Hostess with pension obligations, when the company was already loaded with debt.

They’re using tested food industry technology, like freezers

Because it cleaned up its balance sheet, the new Hostess has money to invest in the company, something the old firm couldn’t afford to do. Hostess will freeze some Twinkies for stores that requested it to extend their shelf life (no, Twinkies aren’t fresh forever; only 45 days). There will also be more automation at Hostess plants, while products with slow sales will be eliminated. It helps that Metropoulos been involved in numerous acquisitions of consumer products, including Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, a hipster favorite.

And there’s that thing called advertising

The old company barely marketed Twinkies or its other products, which hurt the brand and meant younger consumers weren’t as aware of the snacks. The new Hostess has a massive marketing campaign aimed at reintroducing Twinkies to consumers. Social media is a big part of the effort, while buttons saying “I saved the Twinkie” handed out in major cities. A Twinkie truck tour is also in the works. While an ad campaign is expected for the relaunch, the company plans to have a consistent marketing effort so customers don’t forget about Twinkies.

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