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      Twinkie fans mourn loss of favorite snack

      More than 18,000 people are losing their jobs as an iconic brand goes under. Hostess Brands Inc. says it's going out of business after striking workers across the country crippled its ability to stay in operation.

      Some of those workers are on the Grand Strand and Pee Dee, including a Merita bread plant near Socastee.

      We called the Hostess center on Highway 544 this afternoon and got a recorded message saying the store and depot were closed and the assets for sale.

      There were 13 employees at the Merita wholesale store in Florence. One employee said there will be no more deliveries and the store is expected to close in the next few days.

      With Hostess going under, some of America's best known brand names will soon be history, making it a sad day in the bread and pastry aisle at the Conway IGA store.

      The store's shelves of Hostess products were already starting to thin out Friday and there wasn't a single Twinkie to be found in the store anywhere.

      The store's manager says he's already scrambling to find new suppliers to replace Hostess-made products.

      "It's not going to be easy because (other suppliers are) not going to be prepared for the volume," said Keith Skipper.

      Shoppers will have to look for Hostess replacements, too, but some things are so good, they're almost irreplaceable.

      "No more twinkies! That's my favorite," said Peggy Baker of Conway. "We're not ever gonna get them. I don't like that."

      The end of Hostess brands comes at a particularly bad time of year, for shoppers looking for holiday cake and bread products, and for Hostess employees.

      "You know it's just a good product and a lot of people's going to be out of jobs. The way the economy is and families, they need to work," said Dewayne Todd of Conway.

      Some other food company could still come along and take over production of well-known brands like Wonder Bread, but in the meantime, people will snap up every Twinkie they can find and try to make them last.

      "You can't keep them but for so long, unless you freeze them and I don't think they're gonna taste as good," Baker said.

      Twinkies were invented back in 1930 by a baker for the Contintental Baking Company, who was looking for a way to use the machines that made strawberry shortcakes when strawberries were out of season.

      He came up with the name when he saw a billboard that said, "Twinkle Toe Shoes". About 500 million Twinkies are baked each year.

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