Sunday, November 18, 2012

Coping with Disasters

Disasters bring out interesting aspects of the human species. When a person is placed in situation of peril, they portray some of their best and worst qualities, they show how they react under desperation and how strong their stamina is. In my life, I have lived through two major disasters: the first was in Chile in the earthquake of 2010, and the second, was just two days ago on the 16th of November when Hostess went out of business.

My usual Friday routine consists of going to a couple classes and spending the rest of the day slaving over homework. I was looking forward to this particular Friday because my classes were cancelled and I was going to get to spend the whole day just slaving over homework. Apart from that, it was just a normal Friday until my wife looked at the news on her iPhone and said "Hostess is going out of business right now!" A flood of emotions came over me; the first thing I thought of was shock, "how could such a great giant fall in such a short amount of time." My thoughts went to the Roman Empire and how it seemed so invincible in its prime, yet eventually went the way of all the world. Then my feelings turned to rage as I realized that this was most likely due to the health conscious people of America and their anti-sugar propaganda which has been plaguing our country. I dwelt on this thought of how preventable this disaster was until Drea informed me that Hostess had already shipped its last products and that what was on the shelves at stores was it. There was no time for more emotion; it was time to act.

In times of disaster, one of the more beautiful things that happens to people, is that they immediately look out for their friends and family. We sent out a text to inform our siblings and parents that they needed to raid the stores and then I called my sister Marsha, who did not have a car and could have been left stranded and twinkie-less if we didn't help her. It was clear that she understood the gravity of the situation when I called her and said, "Marsha, there's a big emergency... Hostess is going out of business." I was about to go on and explain that we would pick her up to buy some last Hostess products, but I was interrupted by her saying "I'll get my shoes." I just said "be there in five" and we picked her up.

Our first stop was the Maceys. The Maceys in Provo is probably the largest grocery store and was a likely place to find all of the products we need. Right next to it is Big Lots, so I dropped Drea and Marsha off there to do a quick sweep while I started running up and down every isle at Maceys. When we met up, Marsha and Drea were empty handed and all I was able to find was a bag of Wonder Bread (which we didn't really want anyway because we already had some and it doesn't last long).  We kept scouring the isles until we found it; a mostly empty end cap of Hostess products. Drea and I have been short on money lately and we were pretty selective about what we buy, but I just put my basket against the stand and started shoveling things in. You could tell that we weren't the first people there as most of it was missing already. We grabbed a box of twinkies, a lot of fruit pies, some zingers, small doughnuts, and a few other odds and ends. Deciding that we were done at Macy's, Marsha and Drea headed to checkout and I went to return the Wonder Bread. On my way back past the end cap, I saw an old man just looking down and shaking his head. "Its a sad day" I said. He just nodded.

We were thrilled to have found so many essentials to stock up for the future, but we were still missing what was arguably one of the most delicious things hostess had ever made; the Raspberry Zinger. Drea was wise enough to think of going to the Springville Walmart since the Orem Walmart is always picked over by college students. We hopped in the car, probably broke a few traffic laws, and speed down to Springville. On my way I couldn't get out of my head the thought that just the week before in Elder's Quorum we had a lesson on emergency preparedness. I thought I was so good at being ready. Drea and I made plans for how to contact each other and we decided to start storing water, but we never expected this. I just never thought it would happen to Hostess.

Disasters bring out the charity in people. We stopped at a stoplight and saw a homeless man begging for food and money. There was a part of me that thought "he would be just as happy with any type of food, why should we give him our Hostess stuff that we worked so hard for." But we all knew what we should do. We gave the man a Twinkie and told him to enjoy it since Hostess is going out of business.

As we were getting close to the end of Provo, Drea spotted an Albertsons and we decided to check it. Marsha was the first to make it into the door and the first thing she saw was a mother and a daughter heading to checkout with their arms full of boxes of Hostess brand treats. She pointed at them and yelled, "Where did you get that!" The mother pointed to the back of the store and said "Its at the end of that isle, but you'd better hurry, there's not much left." That's when I arrived and asked if they had any Raspberry Zingers. The mom replied despairingly "No!" We immediately turned around and ran out. I actually ran out of the store so fast that I didn't give the automatic doors enough time to open and I ran straight into them. We didn't even have time to laugh about it.

When we finally reached the Springville Walmart, we ran as fast as we could up and down the isles of the grocery section. I found an isle which was stocked full of Little Debbie products and had a mostly empty section right next to it with two frantic shoppers looking for what was left. As I arrived, I got down on my hands and knees and found at the very bottom shelf pushed all the way to the back, three boxes of Raspberry Zingers. I dove in and grabbed one of them, deciding to save the others for someone else.

After leaving Walmart, we had everything we needed except for Snowballs (which was a childhood favorite for Drea) and Ding Dongs (which I missed, but felt I could do without). We decided that we should probably get back and just try to go on with our normal everyday lives, but that we would be willing to try one more place on the way. We pulled into a gas station to give one last shot. We weren't very hopeful, so Drea and I just waited in the car while Marsha checked it out. After a few seconds, Marsha came out waving frantically. We ran in and found a whole shelf with some of the things we already had, plus Snowballs, Ding Dongs, and Hohos. It was a miracle.

The death of Hostess is something that will effect America forever. We wont be able to ration our small store for the rest of our lives (right now it seems hard to make it last more than a few weeks) but what we were able to gather is at least enough to let us give Hostess it's proper goodbye. Who knows what the future will hold. It may be that other companies buy many of Hostess' recipes, but what they will do with them is uncertain. Will our children ever know what its like to eat a sort of bad yellow cake with sort of bad cream stuffed in it? Well, our first child will at least, because we vow to save at least one Twinkie till its first birthday.


  1. This is incredible. I just feel like we were prepared for this as we were reminded to prepare for the future. Our leaders are truly inspired.

  2. I'm just trying to figure out if there was an announcement in that last paragraph...

    1. Oh yeah by the way, we're having a baby :) We've been sort of lazy about announcing it, we've just been telling people as it comes up in conversation. But yeah, spread the word.

      And if you meant that you were looking for an announcement about me starting a company and buying Hostess recipes or something, then no, no announcement there.

  3. Wow, I did not appreciate the gravity of the situation until I read your blog, Nathan. Thanks for the entertaining and informative post.