Nostalgic Las Vegans made a run on Twinkies and cupcakes today after Hostess announced it will be going out of business after more than a century.
Locally, 171 people at a Hostess plant in Henderson stand to lose their jobs.
Hostess Brands Inc. filed a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court today seeking to close its business and sell its assets, including its brands and facilities. Company officials said employees at 33 factories nationwide were sent home.
As news of the company's closure spread, people rushed to stock up on Hostess treats. The shelves of the Wonder Hostess Bakery Outlet in North Las Vegas were nearly empty by noon. Only a few boxes of Ding-Dongs and a handful of cream-filled cupcakes remained. No Twinkies were left in sight.
An employee said earlier in the morning that a line of customers snaked out the door.
Hostess officials said 500 similar outlets across the country would remain open for a few days, until merchandise was gone.
Hostess has snack brands that date back to 1888.
The move to shut down the company comes after a long battle with unions and a change in the snack food market.
Thousands of members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which represents 30 percent of Hostess' workforce, went on strike last week after rejecting a contract offer that slashed wages and benefits. Competition by other snack manufacturers, as well as Americans' efforts to eat healthier, landed the Texas company in bankruptcy twice in three years.
Hostess filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, but today asked a judge to change its plan from reorganization to liquidation. Hostess said it had been saddled with high pension, wage and medical costs related to its unionized workforce.
The company also faced intensifying competition from larger companies such as Mondelez International, the former snack unit of Kraft Foods that makes Oreos, Chips Ahoy and Nabisco.
Union officials said members made major concessions during Hostess’ first bankruptcy in 2004, saving the company $110 million, but the company still closed 21 plants and laid off 5,000 workers. Union president Frank Hurt said Hostess emerged from that reorganization with a private equity firm and two hedge funds as owners, and all were determined to dismantle the company.
Hurt said 92 percent of the union workers rejected Hostess’ settlement offer because they worried they could lose their jobs.