Those who have nostalgia for Washington’s famed Aplets and Cotlets candies may be heartened to know they’re not going away just yet. Two months after confection maker Liberty Orchards announced it would cease operations by June 1, the 100-year-old company found a buyer that will allow the brand to continue. A statement about the deal was posted on Liberty Orchards’ official website and Facebook page Friday, May 28, although there were no details about the identity of the buyer. “We will remain open and continue all normal operations until negotiations are concluded,” the company said.
Many Washingtonians are likely familiar with the fruit and walnut-filled Aplets and Cotlets candies coated in powdered sugar (similar to Turkish delights). 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 soon became ubiquitous across the state, showing up on shelves in many markets 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 recently told Wenatchee World it had sought a buyer for the company over several years with no luck. While the pandemic impacted that search, the company’s 72-year-old president, Greg Taylor — grandson of Liberty Orchards co-founder Armen Tertsagian — also told KIRO Radio that there wasn’t enough interest from the younger members of the family to keep operations going.
Now that a sale looks imminent, Aplets and Cotlets will remain on shelves for the foreseeable future. But it’s unclear what will happen next for Liberty Orchards, which hasn’t always had the best relationship with the local community. About 24 years ago, the company threatened to leave Cashmere unless the town did more to promote the brand.
Eventually, two Cashmere streets were named after Aplets and Cotlets, and there seems to be no lingering hard feelings more than two decades later. When it looked like the company would close for good, the town’s mayor Jim Fletcher told Eater Seattle, “Liberty Orchards is a part of Cashmere’s identity,” and noted that the company “has been a strong supporter of most all events, civic groups, school activities.”