Aficionados of Aplets and Cotlets received some bad news in March. Liberty Orchards, makers of the confection for more than a century, announced they would shut down operations in June. After a hundred-and-one years, there would be no more Aplets & Cotlets.
Mark Balaban and Armen Tertsagian, Armenian immigrants, owned a small orchard in Cashmere Washington. (Cashmere lies in central Washington, halfway between Wenatchee—home to the annual Apple Blossom Festival—and Leavenworth—a faux Bavarian village popular with tourists.)
The partners started the company in 1920 as way to sell surplus apples. They concocted Aplets, a candy combining apples and walnuts and gelatin. The confection was based on a candy they remembered called Turkish Delight. A few years later they introduced an apricot flavor, called Cotlets.
Aplets and Cotlets became popular in the Northwest, especially during the Christmas holiday season. At the Seattle World’s Fair in 1963, they introduced their candy to hundreds of thousands of people from outside the Northwest, expanding their market. The business that was founded to handle an oversupply of apples had become a major purchaser of produce from neighboring growers.
The candy maker was such an important part of its hometown that Cashmere named streets in its honor: Aplets Way and Cotlets Way.
As Liberty Orchards neared its centenary, its third generation of family owners decided it was time to sell. They were in negotiations with several potential purchasers when Covid-19 hit. The prospective buyers withdrew from discussions, turning attention and resources to more immediate concerns. Rather than press on in troubled times the family decided to close down.
Just before Memorial Day, Liberty Orchards disclosed it was in talks with a new potential buyer and would continue operations beyond June 1, while negotiations continued.
The big announcement came a month later: KDV USA, part of KDV Group, “a large international confectioner and snack maker,” had acquired Liberty Orchards and would continue all operations in Cashmere and retain all employees.
KDV Group is based in Russia and is second only to Frito-Lay (owned by PepsiCo) in the snack business there.
When a corporation takes over a company, it’s standard to declaim that operations of the acquired company would continue as before. If you’ve worked for a business that was bought by a larger company, you know that “Nothing will change” is a lie right up there with “the check is in the mail.” (If you remember writing checks.) We’ll see how this works out for Liberty Orchards and Cashmere.