Cole National Corporation owned several retail outlets that included Children’s Palace and Things Remembered along with optical departments in anchors like Sears and Montgomery Ward. Joseph Cole, the founder of CNC, and a seasoned shopping center retailer in his own right, most likely knew what he was doing when he decided to enter the cookie market in 1976 when he opened The Cookie Place in Youngstown, Ohio.
Soon thereafter he was contacted by two gentlemen looking for someone to help rescue them from their struggling cookie chain. Based on the success he had been seeing at his Youngstown store Mr. Cole purchased The Original Cookie Company in late 1977 and attained their 24 existing outlets.
Mr. Cole did not hesitate expanding his new chain. Despite having no PR presence and solely relying on mall flyers and good old visibility Mr. Cole opened over 90 more successful cookie stores in a little more than five years. Just in time for the cookie wars to really break out in the early 1980’s.
At the same time The Original Cookie Co. was expanding, other cookie outfits were also setting themselves up to become national chains. Mr. Cole would quickly find himself in direct competition with the likes of David’s Cookies, The Famous Chocolate Chip Cookie Company of New Jersey and Atlanta based The Original Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Company. But it was Mrs. Fields who would ultimately go head-to-head with The Original Cookie Co.
The Original Cookie Co. was unique from the competition for two reasons. The first, they were the only public chain out of the five national contenders. Secondly their parent company CNC was very used to getting leased space in shopping center locations. This would become very useful when the building of new shopping malls was noticeably coming to a halt in the 1980’s.
The Original Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Company however was easily leading the war with not only the most retail outlets but also with the lowest prices. But for CNC, The Original Cookie Co. was doing well enough to contribute upwards of 4% of the company’s overall earrings. Not bad for a little cookie shop and their multi-million dollar parent corporation.
Eventually The Original Cookie Co., along with Mrs. Fields, would be attained by Capricorn Holdings, based in Greenwich, Conn. The Original Cookie Co. would start it’s loss of existence in 1996 when Mrs. Fields Original Cookie, or MFOC, was formed.
By February, 2002, there were only 35 Original Cookie franchises in operation with no hopes of any additional stores.
“The Original Cookie Company of Cleveland, Ohio, writes that it is against their policy to reveal cookie recipes.” (From The Cook’s Mailbag, The Indianapolis Star, Oct 4, 1989)