Sunday, July 4, 2010

Cashmere & The Liberated Armenian Aplets & Cotlets Inventors

Today is the 4th of July. So, I am going to tell you a story about a couple of guys who came to America, seeking liberty and refuge from the danger in their homeland.

There is a town in Eastern Washington called Cashmere. Cashmere is on Highway 2 between Leavenworth and Wenatchee.

After Leavenworth successfully turned itself into a Bavarian Village theme town, Cashmere thought it might replicate that success with a theme of its own. By giving its main street an American Colonial period look. This did not have the same success as Leavenworth's theme.

Cashmere is better known for something else, besides its "theme." Cashmere is where Aplets & Cotlets are made.

Early in the 1900s two young Armenians were wise to escape Turkey and the growing nationalism which was making life increasingly difficult for the Armenian minority. Armen Tertsagian and Mark Balaban decided to start a business together in Seattle. First a restaurant, then a yogurt factory. Both failed.

In 1915 the pair took a trip to Eastern Washington. They'd grown not all that fond of the damp climate of Western Washington. When they saw Cashmere it reminded them of their homeland.

Armen and Mark made the move to Cashmere and bought an apple farm. And named it Liberty Orchards in honor of their newfound freedom.

Then they started Northwest Evaporating, an apple dehydrating method that prolonged the life of apples and helped with the food supply in World War 1. Next they started up a cannery, named it Wenatchee Valley Foods, making a very popular apple jam they called Applum.

Next up Armen and Mark started the enterprise which was to make Cashmere a well known town. There was this well-liked Middle Eastern confection called Rahat Locum, which means Turkish Delight. Turkish Delight was made from jelled apples or apricots, mixed with walnuts.

Armen and Mark made an Americanized version of Rahat Locum. And called their confection Aplets & Cotlets. Starting off in 1918 with sales locally and at their small fruit stand, Armen and Mark's Aplets & Cotlets are now produced in a large factory with a wide variety of fruit confections shipped all over the world.

Thousands come to Cashmere annually to tour the Aplets & Cotlets Factory.

Armen died in 1952, followed by Mark in 1956. By the late 1940s the pair had been joined in Cashmere by Armenan relatives. Greg Taylor, Armen Tertsagian's grandson, has been the president of the Aplet Cotlet Company for over 30 years.

I am not a big dessert fan. But, I have always liked Aplets & Cotlets.

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