leon_black_twinkie (1)Apollo gets closer to its first big food deal.

By Dan Primack
January 29, 2013

FORTUNE — There are multiple reports that Hostess has picked Apollo Global Management and C. Dean Metropoulos as the “stalking horse” bidder for most of its snack unit, which would include Twinkies.

Word is that the firms were expecting formal notification last night, but that they’re still confident it’s on its way. For the uninitiated, “stalking horse” bids in bankruptcy procedures officially are just the floor that rival bidders must top but, from a practical perspective, the “stalking horse” usually gets its company.

We’ll learn more about the specifics when Hostess files in court, but my gut reaction is that Apollo’s involvement is odd. The firm has never before done a private equity deal in the packaged foods sector, despite having dipped a toe in almost everything else. It does have a bit of exposure to the space via British biscuit maker Burton’s Foods, but that came through its credit practice.

Maybe the idea here is that Apollo is the muscle (read: cash) and C. Dean Metropoulos is the brains (read: industry know-how).

Metropoulos is best-known for capitalizing on the beer pong market a few years back by buying Pabst Blue Ribbon, but it also has been involved with helping turn around such iconic American food brands as Chef Boyardee, Bumble Bee seafood and Aunt Jemima. Chances are it would be able to work its magic again with Hostess Snacks, particularly if it can outsource much of the production and delivery (since outdated equipment was arguably a more severe problem at Hostess than were union pension obligations).

An Apollo spokesman declined to comment.

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