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Twinkies grab center stage - Emporia Gazette: News

Twinkies grab center stage

Twinkies Festival celebrates Hostess cakes returning to the shelves July 15

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Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 11:03 am

Community leaders want to support the Hostess Brands LLC plant opening and Hostess cakes coming to store shelves by having a Twinkies Festival from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 15 in the west side parking lot at Flinthills Mall.

“It’s just to get the community involved and get a little excited about what’s happening,” said mall general manager Jose Feliciano. “… The production here is going to affect a lot of people throughout the nation, and it will affect whether it’s 100 jobs or 200 jobs or 500 jobs in the future. At least it’s stimulating the economy and helping everyone out as much as it can. It’s just a little celebration to be positive about new developments here in Emporia.”

The Twinkies Festival events include:

  • Deep fried Twinkies
  • Twinkies costume contest
  • The Twinkies-eating challenge
  • “Welcome Back Twinkies” song contest
  • Twinkies shake dance

To register for the contests, people can go to www.theflinthillsmall.com and click on the “Twinkies Festival” icon to the left of the page.

Even though the registration deadline is July 12, Feliciano said contest walk-ins are acceptable on July 15, and they can fill out the applications at the event.

Emporia plans to have an anniversary festival every July 15 if everything goes well, said Feliciano, who is also the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce board chairman.

After Hostess Brands Inc. declared for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2012 to restructure the company, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers International Union tried to renegotiate labor contracts. The Teamsters union compromised with the company in September, but the bakery union would not back down because of halted pensions. It went on strike Nov. 9. Bakery union employees at the Emporia plant went on strike at 1 a.m. Nov. 10. When Hostess shut down operations on Nov. 21, more than 500 Emporia-area workers lost their jobs.

Hostess Brands Inc. accepted a $410 million “stalking horse” bid March 12 from Apollo Global Management LLC of New York and the C. Dean Metropoulos & Co. of Greenwich, Conn. The offer included the purchase of the Hostess cake brands, the recipes, the trademarks and five production plants, including the one in Emporia at 1525 Industrial Road, along with plants in Los Angeles, Schiller Park, Ill., Indianapolis, and Columbus, Ga.

Gov. Sam Brownback, Kansas Department of Commerce Secretary Pat George, Mayor Rob Gilligan, Vice Mayor Jon Geitz, Hostess President Rich Seban and Hostess executive vice president Michael Cramer were at the June 6 ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Emporia plant.

The initial workforce numbers 250 at the local plant, with plans to expand to more than 300 over the next several years.

Hostess Brands plans on returning Twinkies and other Hostess cakes to the shelves July 15.

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