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Hostess Brands Liquidation: Illinois Workers Face Layoffs, Twinkies Head For Extinction

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This Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, file photo, shows, Hostess Twinkies in a studio in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
This Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, file photo, shows, Hostess Twinkies in a studio in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

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It appears that Friday marks the beginning of the end of the 82-year run of a Chicago-born American classic snack cake: The Twinkie.

Hostess Brands, Texas-based maker of Twinkies and a number of other snack foods, announced Friday that, on the heels of a nationwide worker strike, it will be going out of business, closing its production plants and laying off the vast majority of its 18,500 employees nationwide. As for the Twinkie brand? It will be going up for sale.

Three of the company's plants -- including one in St. Louis -- closed earlier this week as workers went on strike in response to wage cuts and new limitations in worker participation in pension plans. Now, 1,415 workers at the company's three Illinois bakeries -- in Schiller Park, Hodgkins and Peoria -- are losing their jobs, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The Twinkie traces its roots to a Schiller Park, Ill. bakery where, in 1930, James Dewar turned his sponge cake dreams into reality. CBS Chicago reports that the cakes were originally stuffed with banana-flavored cream, but that World War II banana rationing required a switch to the iconic snack's vanilla flavor.

The Twinkie's flagship Schiller Park bakery is the small Cook County village's largest employer, according to Gapers Block.

Chicago was previously named the "Twinkie Capital of the World" as it was home to the nation's highest per capita consumption of the treat.

Twinkies and other Hostess products were flying off the shelves in Chicago Friday amid fears of a sweet treat shortage, NBC Chicago reports. Area retailers said they will only have supplies of the treats while their already-stocked supplies remain, according to the Tribune.

Hostess' brands may yet be purchased by another company, allowing production to continue. But, clearly, fans of the snack aren't taking their chances.

Hostess, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year, also makes Ding Dongs, Ho Ho's, Sno Balls, Wonder Bread and Dolly Madison snacks.

"Hostess Brands is unprofitable under its current cost structure, much of which is determined by union wages and pension costs," a Hostess press release read Friday, according to ABC Chicago.

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