Hostess Brands, the company behind confections such as Twinkies and Ding Dongs, announced Friday that they would be going out of business.
In Hagerstown, which has a Hostess bakery outlet and distribution center on the National Pike, about 18 employees likely will lose their jobs, a manager said.
Nationwide, 18,500 employees will lose their jobs, according to the company. Hostess said employees at its 33 factories were sent home and operations suspended Friday. Its roughly 500 bakery outlet stores will stay open for several days to sell remaining products.
The Hagerstown outlet was bustling with customers late Friday morning, with many unaware that the company was going out of business.
Some reminisced about the end of an iconic American brand when told about the impending closing. Many lamented that yet another business would shut its doors locally, adding to the number of unemployed in the county.
“This place has been here a long time. It will become another place you drive by ... one more business that has closed its doors,” said Barbara Bierly of Hagerstown.
Bierly said she liked the Hostess store because it offered good value for the money.
Another regular customer, Isaac Wilkes of Frederick, Md., said he was “very saddened, very saddened indeed.”
“If it wasn’t for Twinkies, I wouldn’t have made it,” he said.
He said that the company used to have an outlet in Frederick, but it closed down. So Wilkes got his Twinkies fix by driving to the Hagerstown store.
The company said in a media release that it decided to file for authority to close with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court after one of its largest unions — the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Worker and Grain Millers International Union — started a strike this month.
Hagerstown employees of Hostess Brands are represented by the Teamsters union, said a worker who wanted to remain anonymous.
“I have raised three kids off this company. I feel terrible today,” he said.
He said he had taken pay cuts twice in the last three years, and a few of his co-workers lost their homes as a result.
A manager at the store, who declined to give his name, said that “there is just too much going on right now.”
“I’ve been here 13 years and they have taken very good care of me,” he said. “I enjoy what I do.”
Tom Krause, principal executive officer for the Teamsters Local 992, said that his heart and prayers went out to the workers who would be losing their jobs.
“The timing could not be worse as we enter the holiday season,” Krause said. “We will be helping the workers who will be looking for jobs.”
The company said that its retail stores will remain open for several days to sell products already on the shelves.
Robert Smith, another Hagerstown customer, said he drove to the store because he liked the prices. “You can buy a loaf of bread for 99 cents,” he said.