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December 8, 2008 2:00 PM

Skadden Helping Twinkies Exit Chapter 11

Posted by Brian Baxter

Hostess_twinkies_3 At a time when everyone seems headed for bankruptcy, refined sugar products may be our only hope.

A federal bankruptcy court has approved an amended reorganization plan that could allow Kansas City, Mo.-based Interstate Bakeries, maker of Twinkies, the cream-filled pseudo-pastry we all know and love, to emerge from Chapter 11 sometime next week.

Interstate, which also owns brands like Hostess cup cakes, Drake's coffee cakes, and Wonder bread, has relied on lawyers from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom to guide it through four years of Chapter 11 proceedings. Restructuring partners J. Gregory Milmoe and J. Eric Ivester have helped Interstate negotiate several important investments that will allow the company and its 22,000 employees to once again operate on its own.

But with the end still in sight, some are reluctant to talk about the agreement before it's completed, lest they jinx it and end up with Twinkie on their face.

"We are confirmed but we're not yet out," says Milmoe, cohead of Skadden's corporate restructuring practice. "There's still a lot of paperwork to be done but we're hoping to close on this December 15."

Milmoe did joke that "comfort food and Twinkies will bring us out of recession." For our sake, let's hope he's right. There's a lot of misinformation out there about Twinkies, so we thought that while we're on the subject, we'd offer you some fun facts you might not know:

The delicious "golden sponge cake with creamy filling" gave rise to the infamous "twinkie defense." The term derives from the 1979 trial of Dan White, a former San Francisco city supervisor charged with the double homicide of former Mayor George Moscone and city supervisor Harvey Milk, now on the silver screen in Sean Penn's Milk.

Although he never mentioned Twinkies by name during the trial, White's lawyer presented evidence purporting to show that his client's mood swings were influenced by a junk food diet. After a jury convicted White only on voluntary manslaughter charges, the San Francisco Chronicle coined the term "Twinkie defense," which the media quickly picked up and used whenever the accused sought to invoke a biological or psychological defense for a crime.

Some other Twinkie tidbits:

More than a half billion Twinkies are sold each year. The tasty treats were invented in 1930 and originally contained banana filling, but the recipe was changed to vanilla cream a decade later as a result of a worldwide banana shortage during World War II.

In the cult classic Ghostbusters, Dr. Egon Spengler (played by Harold Ramis) used a Twinkie to explain the amount of psychokinetic energy in New York City, in itself a precursor to another sugary delight: the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Alas, there's apparently little truth to the urban legend that Twinkies have a longer shelf-life than uranium-232. ABC's Nightline cracked the Twinkie code in this hard-hitting 2007 story.

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