Fans of Washington’s Aplets and Cotlets candies may be sad to hear that the company behind them is planning to close up shop. On March 17, the Cashmere, Washington-based Liberty Orchards — founded more than 100 years ago — announced it will cease operations June 1. But it will continue to seek a buyer for the candy brands, the production equipment, and its buildings.
Washingtonians have been eating Aplets and Cotlets — fruit and walnut-filled treats coated in powdered sugar similar to Turkish Delights — for decades. Family-owned Liberty Orchards started producing them in the early 20th century as a way to make use of surplus apple and apricot crops, advertising them in the Seattle Times for the first time in 1921. they became a hit across the state, showing up on shelves in supermarkets, convenience stores, and pharmacies. In 2009, there was even a legislative discussion to declare Aplets and Cotlets the official candy of Washington, but the proposed bill fizzled.
Liberty Orchards told Wenatchee World it had sought a buyer for the company over several years with no luck. While the pandemic impacted that search, it wasn’t the sole reason for the closure. The company’s 72-year-old president, Greg Taylor — grandson of Liberty Orchards co-founder Armen Tertsagian — recently told KIRO Radio that there simply wasn’t enough interest from the younger members of the family to keep operations going. The company has around 55 full-time employees, some of whom have been with Liberty Orchards for decades.
Taylor also mentioned that Liberty explored licensing Aplets and Cotlets to another company outside Cashmere, which may bring up memories of the time 24 years ago when Liberty Orchards threatened to leave the town unless Cashmere did more to promote the brand (eventually, two streets were named after Aplets and Cotlets).
But bygones seem to be bygones now. “Liberty Orchards is a part of Cashmere’s identity,” Cashmere’s mayor Jim Fletcher tells Eater Seattle. “Many long time Washington residents can recall stopping at Liberty Orchards. Taking the tour and sampling confections. Many kids growing up in Cashmere stopped at the Country Store after school for a free sample. Liberty Orchards has been a strong supporter of most all events, civic groups, school activities. Over 101 years many local people had worked at Liberty Orchards, we are sad to lose this important legacy.”
- Liberty Orchards to Close June 1 After 101 Years in Business [Wenatchee World]
- Aplets and Cotlets [Facebook]
- Washington’s Iconic Aplets and Cotlets Candy Factory to Shut Down Later This Year [MyNorthwest]