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Last updated: Tue. Oct. 21, 2008 - 11:18 am EDT

Archway Cookie Co. closes, files bankruptcy

City's Ellison Bakery was a supplier.

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If you like your Archway cookies, better get them fast — that is, if it's not too late.

A sign in the cookie aisle at the North Anthony Scott's Foods on Monday said, “Effective immediately, Archway and Mother's cookies has closed and stopped operations.”

A few Archway cookie packages were still on the shelves, including fruit-filled raspberry and strawberry, soft sugar drop, chocolate chip and windmill cookies. A similar sign was posted at the Kroger store on Coventry Lane.

A message left at the company's headquarters in Battle Creek, Mich., wasn't returned, and a woman who answered the phone at the Ashland, Ohio, plant today said it had closed. A news release issued by the company, Archway & Mother's Cookie Co., said it has filed bankruptcy under Chapter 11 and has discontinued U.S. manufacturing operations. The company also sold products under the Mother's Cake & Cookie Co. subsidiary. The company's Canadian plant was not affected by the bankruptcy.

Archway is a familiar name here; Ellison Bakery on Ferguson Road was an Archway cookie supplier and once was licensed to control sales of Archway cookies in a three-state area. It used to have an outlet store at the plant across from Fort Wayne International Airport.

Ellison sold the licensing agreement back to Archway in 1997 but continued to make cookies for the company until recently.

Rob Ellis, president of the company, said losing Archway represents about 10 percent of the bakery's business. “It's sizable,” he said. “It definitely took us a little bit by storm.”

The company won't have to lay anybody off, however. Business will be slow for the next few months, but Ellis said he hopes “to get things back on track the first part of the year.”

Archway owed Ellison money, he said, but he's not sure how much, if any, the company will ever see. Archway's Canadian plant, which is not included in the bankruptcy, has an order with Ellison for Christmas cookies that would go to the largest retail chain in Canada. However, given the company's financial troubles, Ellis said, “I think they'll be paying ahead for those cookies.”

Ellison has diversified beyond cookies and now sells “crunch” pieces — cookie-based products used as toppings for ice cream, as well as wafers and cookies used to make ice-cream sandwiches. It also produces individually wrapped cookies used for school and group fundraisers and supplies the free cookies that volunteers pass out to passengers arriving at Fort Wayne International Airport.

At one time Ellison produced 8 million packages of cookies a year for Archway; that number had been cut to 4 million, Ellis said.

Ellis wonders if Archway eventually will sell the name. “At one time it meant a lot,” he said.

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