The acquisition of Cheryl’s by opened the door for the cookie and dessert business to form helpful partnerships with its new parent company’s other acquisitions such as Fannie May, The Popcorn Factory and Harry & David.

Cheryl’s new crunchy cookies production came to fruition as a way for the company to co-manufacture for The Popcorn Factory, which sold a crunchy chocolate chip cookie and chocolate chip pecan cookie. “We didn’t really have any experience in making that, but we wanted to make that a cross-brand experience,” said Elisabeth Allwein, product development director. “It was really hilarious because I know how to make a big soft cookie not a little hard crunchy cookie that can survive the death drop in a vertical packaging machine.”

After successfully developing a crunchy cookie that exceeded The Popcorn Factory’s expectations and testing in Fannie May’s vertical packaging equipment, Cheryl’s invested in its own vertical packaging machine and added the product to its repertoire. The partnership works both ways as well. Since then, Cheryl’s has added some confections from Fannie May to its gifts.

Beyond new business opportunities, the sister companies also have the opportunity to learn from each other. At the time of Baking & Snack’s visit, Cheryl’s was hosting a Kaizen workshop, with leadership from Harry & David, The Popcorn Factory and Fannie May all present to learn valuable lessons in lean manufacturing from Paula Paben, director of warehouse and fulfillment, who efficiently manages the manual gift assembly at Cheryl’s warehouse in Obetz, OH. “We’ve been to their facilities, and that’s really improved us all,” Ms. Allwein said. “You can have a peer that does something a little differently than you, but it’s a great working relationship.”