Aplets and Cotlets: A story of ingenuity, hard work and Washington produce
By Rep. Brad Hawkins, Wenatchee
Growing up in the 12th Legislative District, I’ve visited Aplets and Cotlets many times. As a child, I visited and toured behind-the-scenes and watched people making the candy in the factory. It was fascinating to see how the people working each had a part in delicately mixing, preparing and packaging the candies to be mailed all over the country. With two young children of my own, my wife and I continued the tradition and brought the kids to Cashmere for a tour and tasting.
The story of Aplets and Cotlets is the true American dream story – two young men from Armenia who emigrated to the United States found their way to the quiet town of Cashmere in Central Washington. They bought their own orchard, named Liberty Orchards after their new homeland. Like so many growers, they didn’t want to waste their surplus fruit. They started with apple dehydration and “applum” jam. Then they thought of using the surplus fruit to make Rahat Locoum, a near eastern candy popular when they were children. This produced the first Aplets, made from Washington apples and walnuts, and Cotlets, made from apricots and walnuts.
During a sugar rationing in World War II, Liberty Orchards expanded to canning for a while. Over time, and with changing consumer demands, other kinds of candies were developed, like Grapelets, made popular in the 1974 World’s Fair in Seattle. The company changed as the world around them changed, and that same company can still be toured in Cashmere today. Liberty Orchards still uses Washington apples and apricots to make their Aplets and Cotlets, all by hand. This company is truly one of the prides of Washington state.
While attending graduate school in the other Washington (D.C.), I promised my friends and professors I would bring them back some Aplets and Cotlets. I packed up an entire carry-on suitcase of the candies and proudly distributed them to everyone I knew. Later that night, I walked to a drugstore and saw them – sitting on a shelf! I knew the candies were a big deal where I was from, but I didn’t know they were sold nationally!
This past year in my first year as a state representative, I passed out Aplets and Cotlets on the House floor after an especially long night of voting to give everyone a little sugar rush – they were a hit!
It’s an honor to represent a district with stories such as Liberty Orchards – where a couple of emigrants’ dreams, American ingenuity and Washington produce made a delicious product we all can enjoy.
Photos of Aplets and Cotlets being made at Liberty Orchards in Cashmere, Washington:
###Washington State House Republican Communications