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

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Twinkie is getting a new owner. Twinkie maker Hostess Brands is being bought by J.M. Smucker as it spreads its peanut butter and jelly empire. The value of the deal is a lip-smacking $5.6 billion. NPR's Alina Selyukh has this report.

ALINA SELYUKH, BYLINE: The all-American Twinkie has been giving children a sugar rush for nearly a hundred years now.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) It's Twinkie the Kid.

ALLEN SWIFT: (As Twinkie the Kid) Howdy, partners. Come on to Hostess Twinkie Town.

SELYUKH: This year J.M. Smucker, which sells jellies, Jif peanut butter and Folgers Coffee, reportedly had to fight off big rivals like Pepsi and Cheerios maker General Mills to scoop up Hostess brands. And the most remarkable part of the story is that Hostess has gone through bankruptcy not once but twice in 20 years. In 2004, it blamed the low-carb diet trend. In 2012, it blamed its union contracts. The Twinkie production abruptly stopped.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There was a run on tasty treats as people scramble to get the last Twinkies off those store shelves.

SELYUKH: Hostess broke up into bits, and its snacking cakes business was sold to investors for just over $400 million. Twinkies came back, and now, 10 years later, Smucker is buying Hostess for more than 13 times that amount.

JOSH SOSLAND: It's the power of brands. People like their Twinkies. People like their Hostess CupCakes.

SELYUKH: Josh Sosland is the editor of Milling & Baking News magazine, which has covered Hostess for almost a century as it made rolls and Wonder Bread and, in 1930, introduced the Twinkie. Now it also makes Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, Zingers, lately trying to venture out into sugar-free cookies, caffeinated doughnuts and Twinkies flavored with pumpkin spice. Its stock price more than doubled in recent years as people spent more on snacks thanks to hearty demand and higher prices. Sales have slipped a bit lately, but Sosland says...

SOSLAND: Honestly, demand for snack products is pretty resilient and has been for the last 20 years.

SELYUKH: And he says in the snack cake business that does not see a ton of drama, the Hostess turnaround has been impressive with its new price tag a pretty sweet deal.

Alina Selyukh, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELLE AND SEBASTIAN'S "SISTER BUDDHA (INTRO)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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.