Wednesday, January 11, 2012

News about Hostess bankruptcy kindles memories of grad school and more

The WSJ reports:
Hostess Brands Inc., the maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread, is seeking bankruptcy protection, blaming its pension and medical benefits obligations, increased competition and tough economic conditions.
The filing on Wednesday comes just two years after a predecessor company emerged from bankruptcy proceedings.
I first came to know about this company and its (awful) foods from a graduate course that Michael Dear offered.

I forget now what the course was about.  It was probably in my second year in the US.  Dear's class had very few students--perhaps about eight we were.

Every meeting, Michael Dear brought some kind of snacks to class.

Once, he brought something that I didn't recognize.  It was pink and fuzzy looking.

"What is that?" I asked.

Dear, who had a good sense of wit, looked at me pretending to be upset that I didn't know.

"You don't know Zingers?"

Chuckles from the rest.

"If by now you don't know Zingers, then you don't belong in this country."

We all laughed.

I bit into one.  That was also the last time I ever had Zingers in my life.  It was enough to earn my right to stay in the US :)

Years later, after I became a college instructor, I took up Michael Dear's practice of taking snacks to class, if the class size was small enough.

Sometimes, I even baked brownies and cookies at home and took them to class.

Almost always, I also described to students how I was continuing with a graduate school professor's practice to bring snacks to class and, of course, told them about this Zingers episode.

I did that until one cantankerous and obnoxious student loudly opined in class that I was bringing goodies in order to get favorable ratings from students.  Though, the probability is very high that she was mindlessly echoing her remarkably stupid faculty adviser, whose arrogant ways made me depart from the university's Honors Program.  It brought to an end my practice of taking snacks to class.  A zinger, of a different sort!

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