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Rewind: When Happy Ho Ho Presided Over Cheerier Times at Hostess

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Even Happy Ho Ho couldn't save Hostess.

The bankrupt company on Friday said it would sell its assets -- including iconic brands Twinkie, Ding Dong Ho Ho and Wonder Bread -- after failing to reach an agreement with a striking bakery workers union.

"We deeply regret the necessity of today's decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike," said Gregory F. Rayburn, CEO of Hostess Brands Inc., in a statement. "Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders."

The company had sought labor concessions that it says it needs to survive. But the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union -- one of the company's largest labor groups -- did not give in.

Back in January, when Hostess was headed toward its second bankruptcy since 2004, Ad Age published this timeline of great moments in Twinkie history, beginning with its birth in 1930.

The Ho Ho, while somewhat overshadowed by its yellow cousin, has its own place in snack-cake marketing history. The snack itself was created in 1967 when a San Francisco bakery first made it by hand. Happy Ho Ho began appearing in TV ads in the 1970s, including this spot [below], in which he pops out of a tulip in the backyard of happy suburban family. Apparently he can only be seen by kids. Dressed like Robin Hood, the cheerful chocolate hero had a higher calling: "to keep the Redwood Forest free of litter bugs and forest fires," according to his backstory.

Happy's creator was animator Don Duga, who also the fathered Twinkie the Kid, Fruit Pie the Magician and King Kong Dong. Mr. Duga's credits also include the 1970 TV movie "Santa Clause is Comin' to Town," according to imdb.com.

In 1999, when Ho Ho launched "Nutty Ho Hos," the brand asked consumers to vote for America's "nuttiest celebrity laugh." Eddie Murphy edged out Phyllis Diller, Roseanne Barr and Pee Wee Herman.

The brand even had its own jingle:

Ho Hos!
Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho!
The chocolaty snack that gives you go!
It's candy and cake
All in one
It's two great treats
And so much fun!

Until now.

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