Wonders won’t cease in Canada on Hostess shutdown

Fans of North America’s most iconic white bread brand need not wonder about its fate in Canada, even as its U.S. trademark holder prepares to pull itself apart.

Texas-based Hostess Brands — which has made and marketed Wonder Bread in the U.S. along with classics of baked Americana such as Twinkies, Ding Dongs, HoHos and Sno Balls — announced Friday it would wind down its operations and file in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to shut its businesses and sell its assets to the highest bidders.

Hostess’ board said it authorized the wind-down to "preserve and maximize the value of the estate" after one of the company’s largest employee unions, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, launched a nationwide strike.

The strike "crippled the company’s ability to produce and deliver products at multiple facilities," Hostess said Friday, the day after its deadline for striking staff to return to work.

"We deeply regret the necessity of today’s decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike," Hostess CEO Gregory Rayburn said in a release.

The wind-down means the closure of 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, about 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores throughout the U.S., and layoffs for most of Hostess’ 18,500 employees.

However, Hostess’ move will not affect the production of Wonder Bread in Canada, where Weston Bakeries is the licensed trademark holder and bakes the bread with "100 per cent Canadian wheat."

Weston "has no relationship with Hostess Brands’ Wonder bread, so Canadians can rest assured that freshly-baked Canadian Wonder bread will continue to be available in stores nationwide," the Toronto company said in a separate release.

Weston uses the Wonder brand in Canada on white and whole wheat bread as well as on hamburger and hot dog rolls and English muffins.

Hostess Brands’ move also won’t affect the otherwise-limited use of the Hostess brand in Canada.

Montreal dairy giant Saputo has owned the Hostess brand in Canada since 1999 when it bought parts of food processor Culinar Inc., which in turn had bought the brand’s Canadian use in 1993.

The Financial Post reported Friday that Weston would not seek to buy any of Hostess Brands’ U.S. assets, and that Saputo declined comment on the same question. Saputo, the Post noted, has not marketed goods such as Twinkies among its Hostess-branded fare in Canada.

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