Hostess has the approval to shut down.
Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain approved the company's request to liquidate, following the breakdown of a last-ditch mediation between the company and its bakery union, which Hostess blamed for the shutdown.
Hostess said in a statement it expects to retain about 3,200 employees to help with its "initial" wind down phase.
In court Wednesday, Hostess said it needed to begin the liquidation process quickly to take advantage of outside interest in its brands, which a banker said could fetch up to $2.4 billion. That's about how much they generate in annual sales.
Hostess, based in Irving, Texas, has been spending about $1 million a day in payroll without any income since it halted operations last week.
The company, which has local operations in Schiller Park - where its iconic Twinkie snack cake was invented - also has plants in Hodgkins and Peoria. In all, more than 1,100 employees throughout Illinois.
It said it expects that 94 percent of the company's headcount will be reduced in the next four months.
Many buyers have expressed an interest in the company, and analysts expect that its most popular brands, which include Twinkies and Wonder Bread, will be bought.
Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.