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Anchorage bakery closes in Hostess shutdown

Posted: November 18, 2012 - 1:11am
Karen Tocktoo fills up the back of her car with Wonder Bread which she will ship to her father Vincent Tocktoo in Shishmaref. The Sunrise Bakery, maker of Wonder Bread, in Spenard shut down operations on Friday, Nov. 16, 2012 in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Anchorage Daily News, Bob Hallinen)  Bob Hallinen
Bob Hallinen
Karen Tocktoo fills up the back of her car with Wonder Bread which she will ship to her father Vincent Tocktoo in Shishmaref. The Sunrise Bakery, maker of Wonder Bread, in Spenard shut down operations on Friday, Nov. 16, 2012 in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Anchorage Daily News, Bob Hallinen)

ANCHORAGE — An Anchorage bakery has shut its doors as part of Hostess Brands national shutdown and 90 people have lost their jobs.

The closure of Sunrise Bakery on Friday leaves Alaska without a large-scale, wholesale baker, The Anchorage Daily News reported.

The bakery’s financially troubled parent company, Hostess Brands, known for Wonder Bread and Twinkies, announced it was shutting down operation. Hostess is putting its assets, including the Anchorage bakery, up for sale immediately.

The death blow for Hostess came from a labor dispute that didn’t involve the Alaska operation, said Anita-Marie Laurie, a corporate spokeswoman based in Los Angeles.

The bakery, which has been located at the same spot in Spenard under various names and owners since before statehood, is known for its slogan “2,000 miles fresher.”

The end of Hostess in Alaska means more than Alaska store shelves without Twinkies and Ding-Dongs.

Among the products produced at the Spenard plant: Wonder, Home Pride and Alaska Pride brand breads. The plant didn’t make Hostess snacks.

For decades, it has supplied grocery stores, restaurants and the Anchorage School District with baked-in-Alaska bread products. It also has donated leftovers to charities such as the Food Bank of Alaska.

Now those businesses have to make other plans.

School District dietitian LaDonna Dean said she was driving to work Friday morning when she heard on the radio that Hostess would be closing.

“I was like, hey wait, that’s where we get our bread from,” she said.

The district quickly bought out the bakery’s remaining inventory of hamburger buns and sandwich breads. Now it is scrambling to find a new, preferably local, supplier.

One option may be buying from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, which makes its own bread.

Drew Faddis, manager of an Anchorage Outback Steakhouse, said his restaurant relied on Sunrise Bakery to custom-bake 1,200 loaves of “signature” honey-wheat bread each week.

He found out about the closure Friday from his newly laid-off delivery driver.

“It was a total surprise,” he said. “The driver found out via text.”

At the on-site retail thrift store Friday, the line for the cash register was a dozen people deep before noon.

Last batches of bread were still on the conveyor belt but shelves were quickly being picked bare. A cashier said the first three customers of the day had wiped out the entire remaining stock of Twinkies — more than 90 packages in all. Chocolate Twinkies were still on hand and Zingers, Donettes, Sno-Balls and Iced Bear Claws were abundant.

In the parking lot, Karen Tocktoo loaded her trunk with cases of bread and cookies.

For years, she’s bought bread at the discount store to send to her parents in Shishmaref. A single loaf of Wonder Bread in the village can run more than $5, she said.

At the Sunrise Bakery you could buy three loaves for the same price.

“What will we do for turkey sandwiches without our white bread?” she said.

By the time she pulled out of the parking lot a locksmith had arrived to begin changing the locks.

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