The Hostess With the Mostess: Twinkies are Back!
By Trinh Nguyen
Twinkies are rumored to be able to survive nuclear war, and the iconic brand proved its resiliency—and value—yesterday. After only a few months since the Hostess brand’s liquidation announcement, Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management will fire up the ovens once more for this tasty cake (and its siblings, Ding Dong and Wonder Bread) and reintroduce it to stores.
As Metropoulos and millions of fans can attest, the Hostess brand has value—$410 million to be precise—and the secret ingredient to Twinkie’s “shelf afterlife” was its intellectual property (IP). Companies of all shapes and sizes around the country are deeply invested in securing IP, which is oftentimes the fruit of decades of resource-intensive research and development.
Take Coca-Cola, for example. Recently, The Economist broached how the mere survival of the company rested on one type of IP—trade secrets:
“No one knows how many trade secrets companies keep, or how much they are worth. Some, like customer lists, are generated during day-to-day operations. Others are kept secret because patents typically last only 20 years. Had Coca-Cola patented its secret recipe, it would have lost the rights to it long ago. And it would have lost its mystique straight away.”
While other extenuating circumstances like high labor costs may have ultimately burned Hostess, the intellectual assets left in its wake are helping the Twinkies brand rise from the bread crumbs.
But, like the Twinkie, IP’s utility doesn’t expire there. More than 55 million Americans work in IP-dependant industries, which generate 30% higher wages and $5.8 trillion (one-third) in U.S. GDP.
Upholding and promoting IP rights is not only essential to keeping existing industries open for business, but also for incentivizing new entrepreneurs to take risks and create the next big technology, blockbuster movie, or tasty treat.