Hostess Brands's popular Twinkies dessert was invented in the 1930s by the Continental Banking Company. Initially Twinkies had strawberry and banana fillings. During World War II, a shortage and rationing of bananas forced Continental Bakeries to switch the filling to vanilla, a turning point in American junk food lore.

Nearly a half billion Twinkies are reportedly made every year and former President Bill Clinton put a Twinkie in a time capsule, the company said on its Web site.

Continental Banking had a history that traced back to the 1840s until a 1995 merger with Hostess' predecessor Interstate Bakeries, which valued the company at $330 million. Recently, the company looked to divest assets like its Mrs. Cubbison's brand, which it sold to Sugar Foods for $12 million in 2011, but was unable to sell other businesses to buyers like Kraft ( KFT), Campbell Soup ( CPB) and private-equity firms Blackstone ( BX) and KKR ( KKR), the Journal reported.

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York

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