The news earlier this week from St. Louis was grim: Hostess Brands closed three bakeries in the Big City.
It's bad enough that 365 bakery employees lost their jobs. It's bad enough that the plants were closed because of picket lines set up by striking members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union.
The real tragedy, which might have escaped your attention, is the fact that these are the bakeries that produce, among other products, that delicious, addictive sweet-tooth treat known as Twinkies.
That's right. THE Twinkies.
It takes your breath away, right?
I am, like many of you, old enough to remember when St. Louis bakeries sold still-warm-from-the-oven loaves of bread. This was something you bought every day, often on the way home from work.
In the years immediately after World War II, I remember my mother and I were living with some cousins in a fourth-floor walk-up apartment that overlooked one of the big bakeries. My father still was in the Navy, and my mother and I were considered temporary boarders. Every day someone would go down to the bakery and purchase a loaf of sliced bread. The bakery made mini-loaves of bread, too, and we often would eat -- right away -- these fresh, hot, heavenly loaves.
My father got out of the Navy, and he and my mother opened a confectionery on South Grand. Then came the divorce, which I can't tell you much about because I was too young to understand such matters, although I can still taste those little loaves of bread like it was yesterday.
My mother remarried, and we moved to the farm on Killough Valley in the Ozarks over yonder. Although my mother baked cakes and pies and biscuits and cornbread, she never baked loaves of bread. We had store-bought sliced white bread. The sandwiches I took to Shady Nook School were hot commodities when trading started at lunchtime. I ate sausage biscuits and homemade cinnamon rolls for lunch. I was trading up, in my opinion. And all the kids who brought lunches heavy with homemade breads thought they had hit the jackpot, too.
When my wife and I were married, we stayed in our attic apartment for just a few months before moving into what were called garden apartments in North Kansas City. Our unit was on a corner, and across the street was a huge commercial bakery that produced sliced white bread. We lived there almost a year before buying our first house, and we never tired of the aroma of baking bread around the clock.
But back to what I consider to be a serious situation: the closing of Twinkie bakeries.
If you think the so-called fiscal cliff threatens our financial foundation, what kind of panic do you think lies ahead if Twinkie addicts are cut off cold turkey?
My friends, this might be the time to stock up on essentials. I don't want to make trouble for supermarkets and convenience stores, but I understand Twinkies last a long time in the freezer. You might want to stock up while you can.
Perhaps other bakeries will seize the opportunity to fill the bakery gap concerning Twinkies.
And, if worse comes to worst, we can always fall back on Little Debbie products, all of which are sinfully good.
Oh, heck, stock up on Little Debbie, too. In uncertain times like these, you can never have too many confections stashed away.
Better to have too many Twinkies than none, I always say.
Well, I've been saying it all week. Ever since the tragic news about the bakeries closing in St. Louis.
What next? No more Slim Jims?
Joe Sullivan is the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian.