The Twinkie Apocalypse, Averted

Hostess competitors or outside investors will likely keep Twinkies on the shelves.

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The Twinkie lives.

Hostess Brands may not be going out of business just yet — the company and its employees' biggest union have agreed to one final mediation session before closing up shop, the New York Times reports. But if the talks don't pan out, the outpouring of support for Twinkies since the liquidation announcement Friday has a long line of suitors interested in keeping the treat on the shelves.

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Hostess and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union agreed to a final mediation session to avert shut down on Monday afternoon. The agreement came after federal judge Robert Drain of New York pushed the two sides to sit for one last bargaining session.

If the talks fail, Hostess will continue with its plan to forego a traditional bankruptcy and sell its assets off instead. Several competitors and investors have expressed interest in buying rights to Twinkies if that were to occur. Despite its maker's myriad of problems, Twinkies remain a popular brand — the snacks brought in $68 million for Hostess so far this year, according to the Associated Press. That popularity is especially clear on the newly-formed Twinkie black market, where boxes are selling for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars.

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Hostess's bread and snack food competitors want in on the action as well. Flower Foods Inc., makers of Nature's Own bread, and Mexico-based Bimbo Group, which owns similar brands like Sara Lee and Entemann's, are among those running in the Twinkie-stakes.

Flower Foods, based in Georgia, has begun to free up cash in preparation for the Twinkie bidding war, according to the Wall Street Journal. Its chief financial officer, R. Steve Kinsey, indicated the company was considering expansion in a statement accompanying the move.

"This amendment to our credit facility positions us to take advantage of an assortment of opportunities as we work to achieve our expansion goals," Kinsey said.

But snack companies aren't the only ones interested. Sun Capital, the private equity firm run by Marc Leder, who hosted Mitt Romney's infamous "47 Percent" fundraiser, wants to acquire Hostess, according to Fortune. Leder believes the company can still be profitable and said the firm would offer a "better, more-labor friendly deal" that would re-open some closed factories and keep union representation for employees.

"Do you see M&Ms or Mars having any trouble? Or Haagen Dazs or Godiva? People like to indulge in desserts," Leder told Fortune. "Obviously you don't eat only Twinkies for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but people love them as a snack."

Metropoulos & Co., a food investment firm which owns Pabst Brewing, said it would also be in the running.

"Our family would love to purchase these iconic brands," Daren Metropoulos told Bloomberg. "We are actively pursuing this deal."

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Seth Cline is a reporter for U.S. News and World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at scline@usnews.com.