Baby’s owners get call in Hostess comeback
By Mike Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org July 15, 2013 10:20PM
Boxes of Twinkies move along a conveyor Monday at the Hostess Brands bakery in Schiller Park. Twinkies — along with Hostess CupCakes, HoHos and DingDongs — are returning to store shelves in the coming weeks. | Mike Nolan~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 17, 2013 6:25AM
In December, when the future was murky for Hostess Twinkies and CupCakes, the owners of The Original Baby’s Cheesesteak & Lemonade bought up as many as they could find and handed them out to customers at their Orland Park and Country Club Hills restaurants.
The promotion caught the attention of the new owners of Twinkies and other Hostess products, which formally were relaunched Monday. The two Baby’s restaurants were among the first retail outlets to get batches of Twinkies.
M.J. Sughayer, his brother, Hani, and Andres DeLeon, marketing director for the restaurants, were among a group of special guests — including family members of Twinkie inventor James Dewar — invited to Hostess Brands’ Schiller Park bakery in what the company dubbed the “sweetest comeback in the history of ever.”
“We were like little kids (Sunday) night. We couldn’t sleep because we were so excited” about Monday’s event, M.J. Sughayer said.
Last year, the two restaurants handed out 10,000 Twinkies and 2,200 CupCakes after the brands’ former owner, in bankruptcy, said it was closing its doors and selling off assets. Many fans of Hostess snacks quickly depleted store shelves, unsure whether items such as Twinkies, CupCakes and HoHos would return.
Sughayer said Baby’s received a shipment early Monday of “at least 2,000” Twinkies, delivered at no charge, that were being handed out to customers with a purchase. The restaurants also plan to bring back a Twinkie milkshake that proved immensely popular with customers.
DeLeon said Hostess Brands contacted Baby’s on July 3, inviting the restaurant to be a part of the comeback promotion.
“They said, ‘You made so much noise (with the December promotion) and we heard it.’ It went all the way up the corporate ladder,” he said.
Retailers such as Meijer and Wal-Mart were getting shipments of Twinkies and CupCakes on Sunday, and Hostess Brands officials said that those snacks would soon be joined by HoHos, DingDongs and Zingers. It’ll be a few more months before SnoBalls and SuzyQs reappear on store shelves, the company said.
At the Baby’s in Orland Park on Monday, customer Alex Brigando said that when he heard Twinkies might disappear for good, he picked up a few boxes.
“We thought we might be able to sell them for $30 a box,” the Frankfort man said. “Instead, we just ate them.”
His co-worker, Dan Beaurain, said it was CupCakes he missed more than Twinkies, and he stocked up last year.
“It’s a childhood classic,” he said.
At a news conference Monday, C. Dean Metropoulos, Hostess Brands’ chief executive officer, said the products’ new owners “look forward to their resurrection and success,” and will “work very hard to make sure these Twinkies are here for the next 50 years.”
His company also owns Pabst Brewing and has been involved with brands such as Chef Boyardee and Aunt Jemima. His sons, Evan and Daren, will have a hands-on role in steering the Hostess brands, the company said.
Dean Metropoulos said the company is “committed to innovating these brands” to ensure that “they have a broader appeal.”
Within the first two weeks of production, Hostess will turn out roughly 100 million snacks, including 50 million Twinkies and 35 million CupCakes, Rich Seban, Hostess Brands’ president, said.
He said the company’s four plants are running at full capacity, but not all stores will initially have all the snacks.
“Please don’t storm your local retailers,” he said. “We will be there shortly.”