Remember Mrs. Smith's Pies? Retired Smith's employee Ralph Kelley is wishing Tasty Baking Co. workers a better experience than what happened to his colleagues at Smith's former Pottstown plant when they were purchased by Flowers Foods in 1996.
Flowers agreed to buy Tasty for around $34 million plus more than $100 million in debt last week, and said Tasty's South Philly and Oxford plants would stay open.
Kelley fills in the earlier history: "Smith sold to the Kellogg Co. in the late '70s. Kellogg sold it in 1994 to Smuckers. They saw the same challenges that Kellogg saw: The younger generation were not eating pies. Flowers then purchased it from Smuckers" in 1996.
"Flowers closed the operation within a short time, and all the union help lost jobs," Kelley told me. "They moved to a non-union operation in Stilwell, Oklahoma," and later sold the brand to current owner Schwan Foods.
Kelley left Smith along the way, and joined Kellogg -- which bought Flowers' former Keebler operation "and has been very successful with it" after improving delivery times on fresh items.
Kelley knows Flowers has pledged to keep Tasty in business, but worries "the other shoe has yet to fall."