​Hostess goes beyond Twinkies

Hostess is whipping up a new bakery item that will take it far beyond snack cakes.

The maker of Twinkies and Ho Hos is adding bread and buns to its repertoire, aiming to provide one-stop shopping for the convenience stores and dollar outlets that stock its products, according to The Wall Street Journal. A spokeswoman for the company said executives weren't available to discuss the new product line.

The move into yeasty products may surprise some consumers who thought Hostess already made bread. It's no wonder some Americans hold that perception, given that Hostess, prior to its liquidation two years ago, was the owner of a brand that's a byword for sliced bread: Wonder Bread. In the liquidation, however, Wonder Bread was bought by Flowers Foods.

Surveys conducted by the company found that consumers believed a Hostess-branded bread was already on the shelves, with Hostess chief executive Bill Toler telling The Journal that stores were also interested in buying both bread and baked goods from one source.

"Anytime you can walk into a huge category with a new brand, it's a huge opportunity," he said.

The expansion comes after Hostess hit upon a recipe for a comeback. After being bought by two private equity firms in 2013, the company brought back its snack cakes but streamlined production and trimmed costs. Sales are now almost at their pre-liquidation level of $1.3 billion, according to The Journal.

Hostess is also considering adding other new baked goods, including brownies, Toler told the publication. "There are things we can keep doing with this business. There also are questions around cookies, but we don't want to go too far afield," he added.

So will the Hostess-branded bread resemble Wonder Bread, that paragon of downy-soft, ultra-white bread? Hostess didn't respond to a question about the types of bread it will be selling, or the retail price.

While Wonder Bread became a household brand in the mid-20th century, tastes have changed since then, with a majority of consumers saying they're cutting back on white bread. Whether Hostess' new bread can appeal to America's changing tastes remains to be seen.