Friday, April 20, 2018
News Roundup

Better hurry, Twinkies lovers, the shelves are getting bare

CLEARWATER — Early Sunday, Amanda Atari taped a sign to the Hostess outlet store's glass window: "Markdowns 50% off."

The mother of five, who moved to Florida with her husband two decades ago, watched as customers rushed inside to grab 50-cent Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Zingers.

After a nationwide strike by Hostess Brands' unionized employees froze production, Hostess began closing its stores and preparing to go out of business. On Sunday, stores began selling the company's classic treats at a discount. Around the country, people flocked to Hostess stores — some to buy items to sell on eBay, others to stockpile the tastes they love.

Behind the cash register at the Clearwater Hostess store, Atari thought of the income and health insurance she'll lose on Friday, when the store on Belcher Road, just north of Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, closes permanently.

It was her first job and, for the past 12 years, her daily routine: Open the doors at 9 a.m., lock up at 4 p.m.

But on Monday afternoon, as the Twinkie supply dwindled from thousands to a couple of dozen, Atari smiled and rang up regulars.

"Man!" said Larry Beard, who had made a special trip from his home in Largo. "Everything half off? The wife's going to make me come back and spend a hundred dollars."

"You better hurry," Atari said. "It's not going to last for long."

"It's crazy," Beard said. "We've been coming for 22 years now. I raised my kids on this stuff."

Brenda Pruitt of Zephyrhills started working for Hostess 25 years ago in Tampa. She wishes the company and the union could have come to some kind of agreement, she said, "with the economy the way that it is."

"It was a great job," she said about working as a clerk in the store. "It is a great job."

As for what's next, Pruitt laughed: "I don't know." She and her husband have a 16-year-old daughter and bills to pay.

Like the Clearwater location, the Tampa store will be open for the next few days as it tries to sell everything, though the Twinkies are gone.

In the Clearwater store Monday, Sharon Farahani and her husband, Fred, dumped an armful of Twinkies into a yellow shopping basket.

They recently survived Hurricane Sandy in Connecticut with a pile of the pastries. Farahani, who now lives in Clearwater, laughed at the memory. When the storm hit, she sped to the nearest convenience store, where boxes of Twinkies were on sale for a dollar. She filled her cart, thinking: This will be funny.

To continue the joke, she plans to stuff her final Hostess purchases into her children's Christmas stockings.

"This," she said, "is our Christmas shopping."

Nearby, Tonya Reese wandered the aisles, murmuring, "It's so sad. So sad."

Reese, who also lives in Clearwater, hadn't heard that the store was closing. She stopped in Monday to buy rye bread and Texas Toast.

The bad news, she said, made her nostalgic. Decades ago, during lunch time at Chamberlain High School in Tampa, she would often sink her teeth into a soft, sweet honey bun.

On Monday, she didn't want the sugar. But the occasion called for a splurge.

"How much are those?" Reese asked, pointing to a box of Red Hot Pickled Sausage.

"Fifty cents," Atari replied.

"Okay. I'll take five."

Danielle Paquette can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4224.

Comments
Clearwater Central Catholic tops Dunedin Spring Tournament host in extra innings

Clearwater Central Catholic tops Dunedin Spring Tournament host in extra innings

DUNEDIN — After losing a four-run lead thanks to a bad sixth inning, it would have been easy for Clearwater Central Catholic to fold against Dunedin in the final of the 49th annual Dunedin Spring Tournament. But quality relief pitching from Gar...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

ST. PETERSBURG — Roughly four hours before taking the field against his former team Friday, Rays outfielder Denard Span spoke admirably about the Minnesota Twins, their organization in general, even hometown icon Joe Mauer.But business is busin...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

BRANDON — Ryan McDonagh blocks shots. He competes for pucks in the corners and wins those battles. He moves the puck up the ice well. He can join the rush. He can shoot from the blue line. He kills penalties."It was a great pickup by (Lightning...
Updated: 3 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 20

Friday’s scoreboardSoftballSpringstead 15, Central 0
Updated: 4 hours ago
St. Pete says discharge never reached the bay. Its own report says otherwise.

St. Pete says discharge never reached the bay. Its own report says otherwise.

ST. PETERSBURG — The city said not one of the 266,000 gallons of reclaimed water released on Jan. 18 reached Tampa Bay.There was no mention of the waste released from the Northeast Water Reclamation Facility ever reaching the bay in the city’s notice...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Nicole Leary and Taylor Redington stood outside St. Petersburg High School on Friday morning with parents and protesters who had gathered with bullhorns and signs. In a few minutes they would lead about 70 students on a walk to City Hall, joining oth...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Deputies: Woman in road rage incident targeted ... a school bus?

Deputies: Woman in road rage incident targeted ... a school bus?

TAMPA — Deputies are searching for a woman accused of blocking a special needs school bus with her car, getting out and banging and kicking on the bus door until she broke the glass.And there were four children inside, deputies said, as she shouted a...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

BRANDON – Devils top defenseman Sami Vatanen had not traveled to Tampa as of Friday afternoon, according to coach John Hynes, and his availability for Game 5 Saturday against the Lightning is in doubt.Hynes, however, did not rule out Vatan...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

TAMPA — Private developers would bear much of the cost of a new Rays stadium in Ybor City under a plan Hillsborough County officials are putting together.Developers would benefit by cashing in on commercial, retail and other construction around a ne...
Updated: 6 hours ago
St. Pete police search for missing 20-year-old woman

St. Pete police search for missing 20-year-old woman

ST. PETERSBURG — Officers are searching for a 20-year-old woman who they believe to be missing and who could be in danger.Kayla Brandi Boone was last seen at about 11 p.m. Thursday in the 2700 block of Fourth Street S, according to St. Petersburg pol...
Updated: 6 hours ago