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Twinkies are sold! J.M. Smucker scoops up Hostess Brands for $5.6 billion

Hostess Brands, best known for its Twinkies, is being bought by jelly-maker J.M. Smucker.
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Hostess Brands, best known for its Twinkies, is being bought by jelly-maker J.M. Smucker.

It's a sweet deal for Hostess, which also spreads the peanut butter and jelly empire of J.M. Smucker: The storied maker of Twinkies, Ho-Hos, Ding Dongs, Zingers and other long-lasting sugary treats is being bought by the leading snacking conglomerate.

The total price tag is a whopping $5.6 billion — a huge scoop for Hostess, which has gone through bankruptcy not once but twice in the past two decades. That included a few months when Twinkies disappeared from the shelves.

Smucker had to fight to snag Hostess, prevailing over several big rivals that reportedly included PepsiCo, Oreo maker Mondelez International and Cheerios maker General Mills.

Hostess — which introduced Twinkies in 1930 — first went bankrupt in 2004 ("blaming the nation's infatuation with low-carb diets," said The Chicago Tribune). The company re-emerged a few years later under private-equity ownership, but filed for Chapter 11 again in 2012 (blaming its union contracts, which The Atlantic investigated).

Hostess broke up into bits, and its snacking cakes business was sold off for $410 million. In 2016, it became a publicly traded company, under the ticker TWNK.

In recent years, Hostess has seen its stock price more than double as people spent more on snacks thanks to hearty demand and higher prices. Sales have been slipping a bit lately, whetting rivals' appetite for a takeover.

J.M. Smucker, whose brands include Jif peanut butter and Folgers coffee, shared its CEO Mark Smucker's praise for Hostess Brands' "strong convenience store distribution and leading innovation pipeline."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alina Selyukh is a business correspondent at NPR, where she follows the path of the retail and tech industries, tracking how America's biggest companies are influencing the way we spend our time, money, and energy.