Now that’s a great cookie!

At right:  GrandMa’s Cookie Company in Portland Ore. Offered the GrandMa bank to customers in 1970. The price on banks, in good condition, on the secondary market, varies from $20 to $30.  (Photographed by Mary Jane Lamphier)

GrandMa’s cookies are better than ever

Foster Wheeler was the man that founded GrandMa’s Cookie Company in Portland, Oregon, back in 1914. It was a family- owned company, typical of the times and the recipes were probably the best kept secret in Oregon. GrandMa’s trademark is the image of a lovely lady with white hair pulled back in a bun. She has black eyes and eyebrows and her wire-rim eyeglasses sit low on her nose. GrandMa wears a big smile and is dressed in a long, blue dress with a white collar. Her only jewelry is a brooch is at the neck line.

Foster Wheeler enjoyed his business until he retired in 1942. At that time, another family took over when Ralph Whittenburg acquired GrandMa’s Cookies Company.  They kept expanding the company and by 1970 they had added 40,000 square feet to their bakery. By that time they were selling cookies throughout the entire Pacific Northwest.  GrandMa’s Cookies became more famous and the GrandMa’s cookie trademark took on new dimensions.

In the 1970s the people at GrandMa’s Cookie Company helped promote their product with three-dimensional advertising. They offered customers a figural bank in the image of their famous GrandMa’s trademark. (GrandMa is always written with a capital G and capital M.)

 The 1970s character bank has the features of the trademark, plus a long white apron with “GrandMa’s Brand “molded on the front of the apron. A slot was cut in the bank at shoulder level for deposit of coins. Niagara Plastics, Erie, Pennsylvania made the 7.5-inch vinyl bank.

According to Frito-Lay Inc.  “Marketing Case History,” the success of GrandMa’s Cookie Company attracted the attention of Frito- Lay, the snack food manufacturing company in the Midwest.  Consequently, Frito-Lay purchase the baking goods company from the Wittenburg family May 20, 1980. Following the successful test marketing in Kansas City, Missouri, Frit-Lay began distributing GrandMa’s Cookies nationally in 1983.

GrandMa’s Cookies are made in a variety of flavors. Some of them are the Peanut Butter Crème, Chocolate Brownie Cookies, Vanilla Crème Minis, Fudge Nut Brownies, and Oatmeal Spice. There are more than 20 different kinds. Customers can find them in small packages of two and they taste better than ever!

The early GrandMa’s Cookies banks and store displays are Ad World collectibles today. The plastic cookie display has the trademark image on the front, above two shelves that hold the small packages of GrandMa’s cookies. It would look neat on a collectors kitchen counter.

At this writing I found two banks and two cookie displays listed on the Internet. The asking price for each varied from $20-$30 plus postage. The kicker is the postage was high. It varied from $10 -$15 on each collectible.   One display from Virginia, U.S.A. “unused, unopened, undamaged”, total cost was $39.95.