Frozen bread manufacturer Cole’s Quality Foods has established an unlikely partnership through the launch of Middles, it new cheese-stuffed bread bites. When contemplating how to introduce the product line, the marketing department at the Grand Rapids, Michigan-headquartered company figured it would be apropos to stage the official debut in the geographical “middle” of the United States – which happens to be the town of Lebanon, Kansas.
“Lebanon is a wonderful place with incredibly friendly people who really value the simple things in life,” said Bruce Kratt, president of Cole’s Quality Foods. “We quickly discovered that the town is agriculturally based, but is finding growth a challenge because younger people do not necessarily want to continue the tradition of maintaining their family farms. That’s where we saw a real opportunity to help make a difference.”
Following the initial visit, the Cole’s team realized it wanted to do more than simply launch Middles smack dab in the geographical middle of the USA. After learning the population of Lebanon has been declining for decades and has one of the highest percentages of nonagenarians (persons 90 to 99 years old) in the country, it decided to bolster efforts to attract a younger crowd to Lebanon to experience all the community has to offer. That’s when Cole’s came up with an idea related to the city’s annual Lebanon Bash Festival.
“For the local community, the entire goal behind Lebanon Bash was to create an atmosphere that encouraged people to visit and discover why Lebanon is a great place to live,” said Kratt. “To support these efforts, we took a busload of employee volunteers to work at the event with the local folks from Lebanon and sponsored an outstanding concert by Logan Mize, an up-and-coming country singer originally from Kansas.”
Attendees were able to partake in a fishing tournament, a 5K run, archery fun, trap shooting and a community parade. The event concluded with the concert and a $5,000 donation from Cole’s to the US Center Foundation.
“What resulted was an exciting event that brought nearly 1,000 people to the community, almost quintupling their population,” said Kratt. “We are already looking forward to Lebanon Bash next year.”
Founded in 1943, Cole’s Quality Foods was the first industrial baker to produce and market frozen garlic bread back in 1973. Today, the family-owned company offers a wide range of frozen bread products sold in grocery, club, mass merchandise and supermarket stores across the United States. In addition to Middles snacks and garlic bread, the line includes tomato basil loaf and bruschetta, bread sticks and toasts.
Its Middles stuffed bread offerings feature savory and sweet fillings, including cheddar cheese, cream cheese and beer cheese varieties that are ready to serve after seven to nine minutes of conventional oven heating or microwave zapping. The suggested retail price is $3.99 for a 10.8-ounce box containing eight bread bites.