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Rescuing The Twinkie

Wed, 11/05/2008 - 4:32am
By Jeff Reinke

I recently learned that the makers of one of the most delicious entrees ever to grace a 7-Eleven’s counter has been in bankruptcy for the better part of the last four years.

Forget the recent downfall of key global financial institutions, massive layoffs at automotive facilities and downward spikes in manufacturing production, because when the people who make Twinkies and Wonder Bread can’t smile about their situation, then it becomes clear that there are some lessons to be learned in the processing industry.

  • First off, it seems that regardless of how well-known or popular a particular product is, you’re never safe from changes in consumer likes or wants. Lower priced competition is always a threat, and quality can be substituted for quantity when costs are equal.

  • Secondly, you have to wonder about the social attitudes that can both drive and expel a product from the public pedestal. Today’s accepted or even applauded offering could be tomorrow’s scapegoat.

  • Finally, the concept of product loyalty must always be questioned. The flavor of the day could indeed be just that.
The downfall of the Twinkie makes me wonder about the prospect of all things bio in the processing industry. Right now significant amounts of money are being poured into the development of new feedstocks and fuel types.

Hopefully this is all being done with an eye on current, as well as future, needs and applications. It would be a shame if these projects and alliances follow the same downward spiral as a certain yellow cake with cream filling.

So in addition to pushing the envelope with these developments, I encourage all involved with these bio-initiatives to make sure they keep pace with consumer demands, application changes and simple social paradigms that are always subject to change.

Even projects fueled by positive public sentiment can be disbanded if they’re not constantly refined and kept relevant. The challenge here is keeping these developments moving forward in terms of realistically beneficial capabilities and public relevance.

I'd love to hear your opinion. Feel free to send me an e-mail at jeff.reinke@advantagemedia.com.

Jeff,

I don't know whom you are, and you don't know me either, but I thought I'd respond. I understand that people are upset that products like the Twinkie, American automobiles, etc. are in jeopardy, but they really need to get over it. Instead of being afraid and trying to prevent their end, embrace their end and look to other areas in which to add value to our lives. If we can learn anything, we should learn that nothing is permanent, and everything has its own lifespan. Accept it and move on!

Like everything in life, death comes to us all; be it countries, products, people, animals, etc. Flexibility and adaptability are the only ways to ensure survival. Like the stock market, it is never a wise idea to invest all of your eggs in one basket. The Twinkie may die, but the people who make the Twinkie possible will live on. They should find something else to do.

It is good to do all of the things that you recommend in your e-mail, but when it's time to die, let it be. In death there is new life. Instead of holding onto a firm during an grip to keep from falling, take your free hand and reach upward and take a new grasp to pull yourself up to new heights. Instead of being afraid in these times of uncertainty "economic downfall," be optimistic, and embrace change and new beginnings.

Just my own two cents. It may not be worth much to you, but to some, two cents can be a lot.

Thanks,

James Riggs


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