The company that makes Aplets and Cotlets, the famous jellied fruit candy from central Washington, is calling it quits this June.
Served up for Christmas and family reunions alike, the gelatinous apple and apricot treat studded with walnuts was famous far beyond Washington’s borders.
Greg Taylor is the president of Liberty Orchards, the Cashmere company that has made the famous candy for the past century. He’s been with his family’s candy-making business for more than 40 years.
Taylor says it was hard to keep up with corporate giant confectioners.
“They’ve got deep pockets, and they’ve got the ability to control shelf space and the number of facings they get,” he says. “And we just can’t compete with that.”
The candy was originally developed by two Armenian immigrants — Mark Balaban and Armen Tertsagian — who used their memories of Turkish delight as a basis to make something from the extra fruit in their orchards.
Taylor says their product is a little less chewy than traditional Locoum or Turkish Delight.
“We’ve kind of modernized the product,” he says. “Over there [in the Mediterranean region] they tend to use more aromatic oil of rose, orange blossom oil, more exotic flavorings. We do more with traditional fruits and tropical fruits and have tried to appeal to an American taste.”
Three generations of family descendants have managed Liberty Orchards. The company has employed anywhere from 25 to 120 workers.
Besides Aplets and Cotlets, the company also produces Fruit Delights, Dessert Delights and Fruitlets, among other products.
“The company was founded by immigrants who came to this country as refugees, filled with gratitude, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a willingness to work hard,” a company press release reads. “The family is immensely proud to have carried forward the founders’ legacy in providing more than 100 years of the highest quality products and employment to generations of families in its community.”
Taylor says shutting down his family legacy is bittersweet. There’s even a street in Cashmere named for the long-time company: Aplets Way and Cotlets Way. But Taylor says he’s looking forward to retirement and a new grandbaby arriving in a few months.