I Remember The Cookie Factory In Comanche, Texas

I’m not old enough to remember the cookie plant as well as some do. Most of my memories are bits and pieces…how good the town smelled when cookies were baking…school trips to the factory where we were given a cookie to eat, memories that had actually been long buried until various people began sharing both their own memories and their photos with Missy Jones and I. With Missy’s help,  I began to look for more info.

You will be able to find more photos and (hopefully) a filmed interview at the Comanche County Historical Museum.

Like every venture, the cookie shop began with an idea…or maybe it first began with a job, a job anyone would have been thrilled to have during those depression years.

Earl Oden In Comanche

Earl Oden In Comanche

Twenty-year-old Earl Oden went to Dallas in the early 1930s in search of a job, and the job he was lucky enough to land happened to be in a bakery. The young baker spent six years in that bakery, and he baked everything his particular store offered, learning the trade very well and also learning that cookies offered more profit with less trouble than did other baked goods.

The young man also dreamed while he baked…dreamed of owning his own bakery, a bakery that specialized in cookies, however. Fortunately for the town of Comanche, Earl Oden also fell in love while he was baking in Dallas. The young lady was Miss Edith Braziel whose parents just happened to be from Comanche, Texas. The couple married, and Earl decided that it was time to follow his baker dreams so the couple moved to Edith’s hometown.

Delivery Trucks

Delivery Trucks, Can you ID these men?

In March of 1937, the Earl Oden opened his bakery in a rented building on the south side of the square in Comanche. He had one oven, and with that he began baking cookies. He had enough money to buy sugar, 12 pounds of lard, and 25 pounds of flour, and he made as many cookies as he could with this amount.

South Austin location, where the Wellness Center is today.

South Austin location, where the Wellness Center is today.

Some things never change, and if you live in a small town you will understand that a new guy in town, a new business, and BOUGHT cookies were probably not an overnight success, to say the least. However, Earl did finally sell those cookies and made enough off of them to buy a  larger amount of ingredients and bake more cookies.

Awaiting identification

Darrell LaRue “Pete” Wall

Gradually, the business grew until Oden was baking large amounts of cookies two days a week and selling them the other three days, transporting them in his Model A.  Eventually, the business outgrew its little building and was moved to the north side of the square into the building where years later I would shop for fabric with Ben Everidge. In this building the baker was able to upgrade to a double oven.

Awaiting identification

Front: Naomi Cunningham and Ottis (father of Spurgeon) Braziel. 2nd Row: unidentified and Doris Humphrey

In 1945, the Oden’s purchased the South Austin Street property that most of us remember, and the business continued to thrive and grow. That building was the old Howard Garage, and Oden remodeled it into what I am told was a very modern facility for the day.

Awaiting identification

Elton Tabor, Bill McNutt, Willie Hall, Jack Wall

By 1950, what we all called the cookie factory, the cookie plant, or the cookie shop employed more than 20 people with a payroll of over 25,000, not much by today’s standards, however, a boon to the 1950 Comanche economy for sure! The Model A delivery service was long gone, and the company owned 5 of its own trucks and hired about 30 more independent truckers.

Awaiting identification

Awaiting identification

At some point, and I am unclear as to exactly when, Oden’s brother-in-law, Spurgeon Braziel joined him as a partner in what was a very successful business.

And here at United our thank you goes out to Bo Elrod and James Ray Oden for the photos and the memories!

About Fredda Jones

Fredda Davis Jones was raised “in the country” in Comanche County and learned very early that creativity and innovation are traits that can flourish even in small-town Texas and that with enough effort, indeed nothing is impossible, including being married to the same man for over 40 years! Rickey and Fredda have 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and a crazy life that includes sitting in the bleachers several times a week. The rest of her time is spent creating great content for texansunited.com and marketing small-town Texas.
This entry was posted in 1930s, I Remember, Latest Posts, Texas Heritage, Texas History and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to I Remember The Cookie Factory In Comanche, Texas

  1. James Boldebuck says:

    Thanks for the article on Choice Cookies. I had not thought about them in years but when I started reading your article I could smell them. My favorite was a plain Vanilla wafer.

  2. sherri says:

    I actually worked there the summer I was 15. I had to lie and say I was 16 but it was my first real job. It was hard work, but there was another young girl there that I worked with until we would get into trouble for laughing too much and they would seperate us til another day. It was hard work, but very good money for a 15 yr old back in the day. SO yes I remember it very well!

  3. Sheila says:

    Wonderful article with great pictures. I remember the company so thanks for the memories.

  4. Elvin Brownlee says:

    Great story! Whatever became of Choice Cookies?

    • Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

      It moved, Elvin. I’m going to have to get with Bo Elrod, but I think maybe to Abilene??

      • Michael Kerley says:

        Hi Fredda. I think the article in the Abilene Reporter News dated July 24, 1963 might help. It is titled “Distribution Firm Builds Facility Here”. It states that Earl Oden’s Choice Baking Company was sold to Norris Dairy Products of Dallas after 26 years of business. It then states that Earl’s son James would manage the new Abilene firm, which would be a holding company distributing several lines of cookies, crackers, and other foods to be sold to retail establishments in the Abilene, Wichita Falls, and San Angelo area.

  5. Garry Steele says:

    I went to work for Choice bakery in the summer of 1964; my first job after my 1964 class graduated. Earnest Ebell was our supervisor in the back where we made the dough and then ran it through the cookie machines on to the oven conveyer belts. Frankie Mast was the packaging supervisor up front. I worked with Charlie Mcnutt ; also a classmate. I believe his mother, Faye Mcnutt worked up front also. Working full time at a decent wage I was able to order a brand new 1964 Ford Mustang from Bill Clemons Ford Dealership and paid the note off early because of this job. The back area was hard work ; shoveling dough into the machines an loading the mixers with several hundred pounds of ingredients. Needless to say, we may have eaten a cookie or two !!!!

    • Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

      I’m planning to get an oral history from Bo, Gary. I’m thinking maybe you need to be a part of that. Thanks for the memories!

      • Dean Rippetoe says:

        How interesting – I was employed as a salesman for Choice Baking Co, from 1950 to March 1952 when President Harry Truman asked for my help in Korea. My territory was from Olney, Texas to Junction and from Waco to Abilene. John Braziel and Earl Oden were good business men and Choice Baking Co. was well known throughout the South. Our greatest competition was Grandma’s Cookies out of San Antonio. It is my understanding that John became a part of the business by using his dad’s model “A” to deliver the cookies around town and in Brownwood. Thanks for the memories

  6. Sherry Harvick says:

    I remember how great the cookies smelled. My Dad worked there awhile. The pay was good for Comanche County. Dad was a baker, if you notice the bakers were men(none him)because they had to carry 50#bags of flour & sugar up ladders to the mixing vats. I remember Mom waking all four of us children around 2am and taking us to pick up Dad. The windmill cookies were my favorite. An interesting thing, the cookies that were cracked or broken were put back into the dough of the next batch and dissolved. I remember that because I didn’t understand how that was possible, but they were huge vats. I want to come see the exhibit.

  7. Tommy Pipes says:

    Great story and great memories. I worked at the Cookie Plant on my summer High School breaks.
    Don McGraw was the plant Mgr , the work was hard but the Cookies were GREAT. The Indian Head Cookies and the fresh Vanilla Walers with a little bit of the clear suryp got me through the day.

  8. Maxine Burns says:

    I loved this article. My daddy worked there at one time and also my older sister.
    That place smelled soooo good when they were baking…..

  9. Gitl Black says:

    Thanks for posting this. John Spurgeon Braziel was my grandpa. So neat to see pics of this. I never got to see this place, but my mom has fond memories. Edith was my great aunt. John Braziel has been gone for a while now, always in my heart.

    • Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

      I’m so glad you found this article!

    • Cheryl Braziel Montoya says:

      John Spurgeon Braziel was my dad; he’s been gone over 20 years now. I have hilarious memories of working with my cousin, Jamie Oden, who passed away recently. I can assume that he is the small child with the three men in the photo. My dad was in the Army from 1942 until March 1946; therefore, he would not have been in any of the photos. My aunt, Edith Oden, and I shared interests in art and decorating. I am so delighted to see this website; some years ago on the history channel there was a program about when cookies were first mass produced and sold to the public; I had hoped that Choice Cookies would be mentioned, but that was not the case.

      • Amy Oden says:

        Just found this website today and I’m so glad I did. I’m Jamie & Patsy’s granddaughter (daughter of David Oden). Missing Jamie very much. Great to see some old pictures of his family.

  10. Kim Braziel Bachus says:

    I’m not sure of the exact year Daddy joined Earl in the cookie business, but I remember Mother telling me it was sometime in the late 1930’s. (My sister Cheryl, the family memory, can probably tell you the exact year, date & time of day!) He & Earl were equal partners, until Earl gave Jamie (his son) part of his half. The business was sold to Norris Dairy Products in the 60’s, and Earl & Jamie moved to Abilene to start Sunbeam Baking. I can remember lots of times when Daddy got up in the middle of the night to go to the “cookie shop” and take care of some problem. He would just throw on some slacks over his pajamas, and Mother just knew he was going to have car trouble on the way there, and be caught out in public in his PJ’s. I pretty much grew up at the shop, and loved “stealing” the warm cookies off the belt as they came out of the oven. The Indian Moon cookies were a favorite.

    • Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

      I love it!! Thanks for sharing!!!!!!!!

    • Cheryl Braziel Montoya says:

      The business officially began early in 1937 and was sold in middle or late spring of 1963, just before I graduated from high school. I, too, remember going down to the shop after school to sample some cookies hot off the belt, chased down by a nice, cold Dr. Pepper.

  11. John Scott says:

    During the time Jamie Oden was working at the bakery they hired a beautiful young lady from De Leon named Patsy Husley. I am not sure what she did at the cookie factory, but she certainly caught the eye of young Jamie and they eventually married. The cookie factory in Abilene was sold and Patsy and Jamie spent retirement years traveling around the world. Patsy still resides in Abilene. Jamie recently passed away.

  12. Great seeing this article. I’ll try to get some confirmation on who I think some of the people are in the pics but not too many left that would likely recognize them. 2-A is my granddad, Otis Alexander Braziel, Comanche Justice of the Peace until his passing Jan 1, 1964. Linda Rippetoe would be my best guess at filling in some blanks, as well as her brother-in-law, Dean Rippetoe, who worked there around 1950. I’ll try to call him tomorrow. Choice Baking Company was started with $450. Dad and Uncle Earl each had $150, and borrowed $150 from my Aunt Lizzie Lou Braziel Gibson. Please keep me informed about whatever you come up with. I would love to learn even more about the company my dad put his heart (and back) in to for 27 years.

    • Dean Rippetoe says:

      Hey Kevin – What a small world. I would love to hear from you and talk about the good ole days. Your dad was a good friend, a great boss and mentor. I appreciated the opportunity that he and Earl game me. My cell phone is 432 634 5192 and if it rings I will be on the other end.

  13. Richard Morris says:

    My deceased eifr (Marilyn Mason) was secretary at the cookie shop before we married in 1951!

  14. Missy Jones says:

    The 1950’s were to become known as the drought years here in Comanche County. Thses jobs at the cookie shop were a godsend to women here. So many people lived in the country, and there
    was nothing growing and making a crop due to no rain. These might have been unskilled jobs, but let me tell you, by the time that the ladies learned to manipulate the cookies moving on the belts, picking up a certain number of cookies for packaging and all of the other jobs to be done, they were highly skilled. My dear sister, Geneva Mercer, talked to us about just what she had been doing that day, and most of all, she talked about the people working there. She was a lovely, friendly person, and she talked about the ladies and the good friends that she had made. This business was a godsend to families in this county, and the money that these ladies brought home saved many farms and family homes.

  15. Missy Jones says:

    Fredda, our dear friend, Edward Isham, wrote that when he was a kid, and in town maybe on a Saturday afternoon, he and his friends would go to the cookie shop and buy a good sized bag of broken cookies, maybe for a nickel. Missy Jones

  16. Missy Jones says:

    Fredda, the picture of the single man standing with his hand on the handle of, probably a mixer, i believe is Pete Wall.

  17. Amy Oden says:

    Thanks for posting, I was thinking of my grandpa Jamie today and found this website. Missing him a lot. It’s great to have this story and pictures about my family.

  18. missyjones says:

    Fredda, seems like this story is told somewhere else, but I can’t find it, so I will tell you again. I talked to Bear Ellington one day at the Museum about the cookie shop. He did remember my dear sister, Geneva Cox Mercer who also worked at the cookie shop. He said this was his first job, and he needed the job so bad, that when everyone else took a break, he just kept on working. He didn’t stop. Geneva talked to him and told him that he needed to take a break like everyone else was doing, that he had earned that break. And, that “they” wouldn’t think any more of him if he worked around the clock and never took a break. So, he said after that he stopped to rest just like every one else was doing. He did remember Geneva with love. Missy Cox Jones

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>