Were you part of the collective “gasp” when you heard the news that our beloved brand – Twinkies – might be no more? Hostess, the makers of Twinkies, Ding Dongs, HO-HOs and Wonder bread announced it is shutting down operations. Hysteria ensued in social and traditional media, with reports of Twinkie-hoarding and outrageous prices. If you were like me, you might have thought “Wait, this can’t really happen…can it?”.
There are bigger issues in our world, but the reason we are taken back is that Twinkies represent a little bit of our identity, our memories, and our life. That little co-extruded roll of sugar and lard (Oh, I mean “sponge cake with creamy filling”) has grown up with us. Hostess certainly has every right to make them (or not) and make lots of profit (or not), because the brand is legally owned by them. But what makes the brand so popular and special to us is our collective feeling that the brand really is OURS, and that no one has the right to take it away.
Iconic brands lie more on the consumer side of the ownership line. At what point do brands become more a part of the consumer target than the provider? For example, The Beatles stopped making new music in 1969. I am happy that Paul McCartney and some record label still make tons of money. The Beatles live on because the MUSIC taps memories that are very alive and healthy in us, not the creator or distributor.
An Advertising Age article states that Hostess will have no trouble selling the Twinkies brand, and the brand is sure to live on. I am sure that the price someone will pay will have very little to do with the value of assets, machinery, or even sales projections. They are buying the rights to a small part of our memories and lives.