In Emporia, theyíre once again singing the praises of the Hostess Twinkie.

And for good reason, if you consider the snack cakeís impact on the eastern Kansas community.

The town was hit with a huge economic setback last November when Hostess announced it would shutter its Emporia facility. More than 500 jobs were lost when Hostess closed the plant following a strike by union bakers.

It was to be the end of the line for the popular Twinkie, a baked good around since the 1930s, and a favorite snack worldwide. Twinkies even gained favor in deep-fried form as carnival fare.

Soon, theyíll be back. A firm doing business as Hostess Brands, LLC, recently announced plans to reopen the Emporia facility as its flagship bakery. Operations are to resume with some 250 employees at the start, and the possibility of more jobs to come ó the kind of positive economic news any community would celebrate.

And celebrate they will in Emporia, as folks there are planning a Twinkies Festival on July 15, the day Hostess Brands plans to return the product to store shelves.

The event will honor the company thatís reopening the cityís Hostess bakery after buying the brandís snack cake lines out of bankruptcy. Those who attend the one-day festival also can expect such activities as a Twinkie costume contest and Twinkie-eating challenge.

For those interested in such a food face-off, itís worth noting that someone reportedly wolfed down 24 Twinkies in under a minute as part of a previous challenge. If true, they would have consumed a staggering 3,600 calories in one sitting.

As tasty as the yellow sponge cake loaded with a creamy filling may be, itís not the healthiest treat ó even in a single serving. One Twinkie packs 4.5 grams of fat.

But the current focus in Emporia has nothing to do with nutritional information or healthier eating.

It has everything to do with economic well-being, so itís easy to see how the community would rejoice in the pending return of Twinkies to store shelves, and the role their workers will play in the process.

ó The Garden City Telegram