Inside the Chattanooga Bakery, where iconic dessert treat MoonPies are made, there is another, smaller operation, called Betsy's Cheese Straws. Employees there bake the products to order, and the holiday season is a busy time for the lesser-known company.
"We concentrate our efforts on holiday gift sales, corporate gift giving and entertaining that lend themselves to the fourth quarter," Betsy's spokeswoman Elizabeth Campbell said via email. "We also have a corporate gift program that organizations use to give local, all-natural gifts to employees. That being said, cheese straws and gourmet cookies are a year-round product that can be enjoyed for parties, low-cost everyday gifts and snacks."
The cheese straws come in seven different flavors, and Betsy's also offers chocolate chip and lemon gourmet cookies.
The team aims to introduce at least one new product a year, Campbell said.
Betsy Parker and her daughter-in-law, Ashley Parker, founded the company in 1998 after Betsy's son Bob bragged about the cheese straws and said she should sell them.
Ashley, who was Bob's fiancée at the time, said she'd help with the marketing, and that's about all it took to get the company going.
Ten years after that, Chattanooga Bakery bought Betsy's, Campbell said.
"Betsy Parker was ready to retire and spend more time with her grandchildren, and she trusted that her brand was in good hands with another family-owned company," she said. "She knows that her bakery now has the resources to help it prosper for years to come, and it also is a wonderful addition the Chattanooga Bakery's product lineup of Southern snacks and confections."
Betsy's runs independently from the Chattanooga Bakery and has its own production facility inside the Chattanooga Bakery location, which is at 900 Manufacturers Road.
It has about five employees during the regular year, and leaders hire on about five more during the holiday season.
And Betsy's shares some manufacturing personnel and administrative support with Chattanooga Bakery.
Employees bake the products to order, so orders dictate the baking schedule. But that typically means employees bake a few times a week throughout the year and every day from October to January, Campbell said.
"With the experience that Chattanooga Bakery provides, Betsy's has increased productivity without compromising the quality or the ingredients," she said. "Our cheese straws and cookies are still made with hand-grated cheese, all-natural ingredients and absolutely no preservatives."
Consumers can get the products at the MoonPie General Store, Whole Foods, Enzo's Market, Natural Body Spa and Market on the Mountain (which is on Lookout Mountain). They can also order online.
Campbell said that Nooga.com readers can get 10 percent off any online purchase by using the code "Nooga."
"Christmas is always an exciting time for us, filling store orders and online orders every day," she also said. "We are in the middle of another fantastic season."
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