LANCE A. JOHNSON
TREE TOP’S AMERICA’S SECRET INGREDIENT
RECIPE CONTEST WINNER, SWEET CATEGORY
In the beginning it was all about premium-quality juice (renowned perfectionist Charbonneau
once ordered the disposal of 5,000 gallons of juice
because a sample didn’t satisfy his discerning palate). But to ensure the cooperative’s growth, Tree
Top developed new technologies, expanded its
regional and national reach, and began producing
frozen concentrate, other fruit products and ingredients for many of the world’s leading food and beverage manufacturers, helping the co-op grow into
one of the world’s top fruit processors, with annual
sales well over $350 million.
“;eir ;exibility and willingness to try new
things is what’s kept them successful for so long,” says
David Stratton, author of Tree Top: Creating a Fruit
Revolution (WSU Press, 2010), a recently released history of the company.
Tree Top’s success is even more extraordinary
given that its history has been rife with hardship,
from the Alar pesticide scare in the 1980s to ever-increasing domestic and foreign competition to,
above all, Mother Nature’s near-constant threat of a
short supply of product.
COURTESY OF TREE TOP
“;ey seem to have a di;erent crisis almost every
year,” says Stratton. “With all their struggles, it’s amaz-
ing how good they’ve been at rising to meet them.”
Tree Top was also an early ingredient in another
Northwest success story. As one of Costco’s original
vendors, Tree Top has been Costco’s top apple juice
supplier for 27 years, a partnership that has helped
fuel the success of both organizations.
As for the future, Tree Top has every intention
of being around for the next 50 years.
“;e basic foundation for continued success is
in place,” says Stokes. “We’ve got high-quality products, strong ownership and a great heritage. I think
we’ll be OK, but only time will tell.” C
Apple Toffee French
Toast with Apple Syrup
Created by Costco member Nadine Mesch
of Mount Healthy, Ohio
8 cups French bread, cut
1 cup sugar
into 1-inch cubes
3 tart apples, peeled and
8 ounces cream cheese,
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups Tree Top apple
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon
¼ cup Tree Top apple juice
5 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla,
½ cup English toffee bits
¾ cup milk
To make the French toast:
Place half of the bread cubes in a greased 13 x
9-inch baking pan; top with apples. In a large
bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugars, apple
juice and 1 teaspoon vanilla until smooth; stir
in toffee bits. Spread over apples. Top with
remaining bread cubes.
In another large bowl, beat the eggs, milk and
1 teaspoon vanilla until well blended; pour over
bread. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before
baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 40 to 45
minutes or until a knife inserted in the center
comes out clean.
While the French toast is baking, prepare the syrup.
To make the apple syrup:
COUR TES Y OF TREE TOP
In a medium-size saucepan, whisk together the
sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, apple
juice and lemon juice; heat to a boil, whisking
constantly. Boil for 1 minute, then stir in butter.
Serve over warm Apple Toffee French Toast.
Makes 8 servings.
Serving suggestion: For real decadence, dollop a spoonful
of whipped cream on top.
Company name: Tree Top Inc.
President/CEO: Tom Stokes
Products: Fruit-based products, including premium apple
juice and apple sauce made
with 100 percent USA apples.
Contact at: P.O. Box 248
Selah, WA 98942-0248
(509) 697-7251; (509) 698-1483
Comments about Costco:
“We attribute our success to
the same characteristics that
we see in Costco. We understand that a good value is not
always the lowest price, but
a combination of quality and
price. Tree Top has always produced a high-quality product at
a good value, and that’s what
we believe Costco offers to
its members.”—Tom Stokes
Before Tree Top, thousands
of tons of unsold apples would
often be dumped into landfills.
Peter J. Malcolm is a Bellevue, Washington–based
freelance writer and can be reached at peterjmalcolm
NOVEMBER 2010 ;e Costco Connection 27