You can mock the twinkly vampires, you can shake your head at the tabloid stories surrounding stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart and you can roll your eyes at the middle-aged folks writing fan fiction about it, but never doubt the money-making power of the Twilight film series. Forget the sales of Stephanie Meyer's vaguely Mormon books that launched the Twilight built on vampire/lycan/teen romance. Just look at the numbers: Combined, the five films in the series have taken in nearly $3.3 billion worldwide since 2008. A Twilight film has been the top-grossing U.S. film in three of the past five holiday seasons, according to BoxOfficeMojo. Between the first weekend in November and the last weekend in December, Twilight brought in $193 million in the U.S. in 2008, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1 yielded $281 million last year and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 finished this year with more than $282 million.
Go ahead, be mad. Be mad at Hostess' bakers union for striking over wage and benefit concessions. Be mad at Hostess' chief executive, Gregory Rayburn, for not cutting a dime out of his multimillion-dollar pay or other executives' bonuses. But please consider what you're mad at. America's shifting dietary habits aside, the Twinkie as a product hasn't been healthy in a while. Its first parent company, Continental Bakery, was passed around by owners including ITT (ITT), Ralston Purina and Interstate Bakeries. The last company spent 2004 through 2009 in bankruptcy before changing its name to Hostess Brands. The identity shift didn't help, as the company went bankrupt again two years later. Hostess' assets have been liquidated and its brands have drawn interest from Kroger (KR), Wal-Mart (WMT), Target (TGT) and others and the snack can be sneaked in from Canada, but the days of widely available Twinkies may be over. Every supermarket chain has a knockoff version, Hostess competitor McKee Foods and its Little Debbie brand have continued selling the similar Dream Cakes during the Twinkie's hiatus and competitors such as Flowers Foods (FLO) have kept regional favorites such as Tastykake alive and kicking. So who are you really mad at? Scapegoats aside, the Twinkie's turbulent financial history should have made die-hard Hostess fans queasy long before now. -- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: email@example.com.