SAN FRANCISCO – Twinkies are being marketed on the Internet like exquisite delicacies.
Hours after Twinkie-maker Hostess announced its plans to close its doors forever, people flocked to stores to fill their shopping baskets with boxes of the cream-filled sponge cakes and their sibling snacks -- Ding Dongs, Ho Hos and Zingers.
Late Friday and Saturday, the opportunists took to the websites eBay and Craigslist. They began marketing their hoard to whimsical collectors and junk-food lovers for hundreds -- and in some cases -- thousands of dollars. That's a fat profit margin, when you consider the retail price for a box of 10 Twinkies is roughly $5.
Greg Edmonds of Sherman, Texas, is among those who believe Twinkies are worth more now that Hostess Brands Inc. has closed its bakeries. He lost his job as a sales representative eight months ago, so he is hoping to make some money feeding the appetites of Twinkie fans and connoisseurs
After spending a couple of hours driving around to stores Friday, Edmonds wound up with 16 boxes of Twinkies and Ding Dongs. He started selling them Saturday on eBay, advertising three boxes for a hefty price of $300.
"I could really use the extra money since I'm unemployed," Edmonds, 50, said. "I figure I better sell them pretty quickly because I am not sure how long this novelty is going to last."
Contrary to popular belief, Twinkies don't last forever. Most bought in stores Friday carry an expiration date of early December,
If buyers don't bite, Edmonds isn't sure what he will do with his supply. He doesn't even like them. "I do like to have a Ding Dong, every once in a while though," he said.
John Stansel of Tampa, Florida, blanches at the thought of eating a Twinkie. He's a self-described health nut.
Yet he, too, rummaged shelves late Friday at a neighborhood Walgreens and then again early Saturday at Target and a grocery store. He spent about $100 for 20 boxes of Twinkies and Ding Dongs. His goal: sell them for about $1,000 and put the money to good use.
"Maybe I will hire a personal trainer for myself or go do some shopping at Whole Foods or donate the money to a charity to fight diabetes," Stansel, 40, said. "No matter what, I figure I am getting sugar off the streets."
Although Hostess is shutting down, it's still possible that Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos could make a comeback. That's because Hostess is planning to sell its brands and other assets at an auction to be overseen by a U.S. bankruptcy judge in New York. Several potential buyers could emerge for Twinkies, particularly with the recent outpouring of affection.
A hearing on Hostess' liquidation request is scheduled for Monday morning.
Not all online sellers are demanding top dollar. Some boxes are being listed at $5 to $20. Others are willing to barter. "I am willing to trade a box for some good microbrew. A real quality six pack," offered a thirsty New York seller on Craigslist.
Despite his disdain for junk food, Stansel confesses he won't sell a few of his individually wrapped Twinkies. He plans to give them to his nostalgic friends and family as stocking stuffers for Christmas.