NEW YORK — Twinkies may last forever, but the same can't be said for the company that makes the cream-filled sponge cake.
Hostess Brands, which makes Twinkies and Wonder Bread, has asked a judge for permission to go out of business and lay off its 18,500 workers. If approved, the company is expected to sell off its assets, including its brands.
The company is blaming its decision to shut down on a labor strike by members of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, but Americans' appetite for junk food has been waning in recent years. The company has filed for bankruptcy twice in the past decade, the last time in January.
"We deeply regret the necessity of today's decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike," Gregory F. Rayburn, Hostess' chief executive, said in a statement.
The union said in a statement that Hostess made unreasonable demands, including wage and benefit cuts of around 30 percent for workers, while top executives of the company received large pay increases.
"The crisis facing Hostess Brands is the result of nearly a decade of financial and operational mismanagement that resulted in two bankruptcies, mountains of debt, declining sales and lost market share," said union President Frank Hurt.
Hostess, based in Irving, Texas, has 565 distribution centers around the country, as well as 33 bakeries and 570 bakery outlets, including one location each in Lexington and Frankfort. The union says 24 production facilities are currently on strike.