Category Archives: Winter 2016-17

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“It Goes Way Back” A Passion For Cookie Making

By Ryan Jones Photos Courtesy Stacy Hilton Vanzant

Evva Foltz Hanes’ passion for making cookies ignited long before she could envision the booming business it would eventually drive her to create. It was during naps next to her mother’s wood-burning stove that the smell of warm sugar and the sounds of dough being rolled by hand would take hold, she says, and set the course for her and her family for generations to come.

“The cooler it is, the better your cookies roll,” remembers Hanes, who was allowed to take finished cookies off the pan and stack them for her mother, Bertha Crouch Foltz, only after she became a little too old for stove-side naps.

hanescookie9That stove, a blue porcelain wood range, is a highlight for thousands of sweet-seeking visitors who tour the Mrs. Hanes Cookie Factory on Friedberg Church Road in Clemmons each year. “It doesn’t even have a thermometer,” says Hanes, who eventually graduated to baking but didn’t learn the secret to rolling until after she finished high school. “You had to be very careful of how much wood you used. That was the real art of making cookies on a wood stove.”

Gradually, Hanes began to take a leading role in the cookie making operation her mother had started to help out financially where the family dairy farm fell short. The cookies, made in the traditional Moravian style – exceptionally thin, crispy, and spicy – were locally famous and sold to several shops and stores near the family homestead.

“She would do the baking and I would do the rolling,” says Hanes of the years she would help her mother in the evenings and on weekends when she wasn’t working at Hanes Hosiery. Eventually she retired from the company not only to expand her family with another child, but to become a fulltime cookie chef once her mother was ready to hang up her apron for good.

hanescookie11Using only her own kitchen and the methods she learned by doing – hand-rolled dough baked to perfection in a regular old oven, though by the late 1930s it had become an electric one – Hanes grew her reputation, and with it, grew her business.

The speed of growth in terms of scale and sales figures for Mrs. Hanes Cookie Factory wouldn’t impress some modern moguls. It happened little by little as the need arose, explains Hanes. This was by design.

“We didn’t care to invest a big amount of money into building a great big building and adding so many people on and it maybe not working,” Hanes explains. “We added on as we needed more cookies. We hired more people.”

Though her first expansion involved building a state and federally inspected kitchen in the basement of her home (“I got tired of having the kitchen messed up all the time,” laughs Hanes), she considers the true birth of the business to be around 1968 when three people were hired to help out with baking while she was pregnant with her last child. “After that, we enlarged the kitchen in the basement to take over the den.”

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Joann Miller carefully hand wraps tins of cookies in the packing room.

Soon after, Hanes had a small building erected between her house and her parents’ house to hold the steadily-growing operation. “We kept hiring maybe one, two people at a time and gradually grew. When it really took off though was when we started going to shows. I would make cookies at the shows and we would sell them,” remembers Hanes. “That’s what started our mail order business.”

Hanes estimates the Cookie Factory kitchen was enlarged around seven times as secondhand mixers, ovens, and other baking equipment came to their attention. “We found an antique mixer in Texas that could mix up to 700 pounds of dough at a time. Before that, we were using a mixer that made 100 pounds at a time. Before that, we mixed it by hand. Everything we’ve done has been slow. It’s been very satisfying,” says Hanes.

Today, around 100,000 people in all 50 states and 30-plus countries receive regular shipments of the extra-thin cookies, which are still rolled, cut, baked, and packed by hand. Among the company’s many mail order customers are several celebrities, including Oprah. “We send her cookies every year,” says Hanes.

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The original home place of Mrs. Hanes in Northern Davidson County.

In addition to mail order customers, more than 6,000 people visit the factory each year to purchase cookies in person and to take tours. Over 10 million cookies are baked and sold annually, which, according to the company website, equates to 65,000 pounds of flour, 40,000 pounds of molasses, 35,000 pounds of sugar, and 450 pounds of ginger. Current cookie flavor offerings include ginger, sugar, lemon, chocolate, butterscotch, and black walnut.

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In the cutting room, Rita Huffman places freshly baked cookies in the large storage tins awaiting shipment.

“I feel a great sense of pride in being part of a family business, especially because we are upholding the handmade tradition of making these cookies. That is not an easy thing to do in today’s business world. It is a time-consuming and expensive process,” says Ramona Hanes Templin, the current president of Mrs. Hanes Cookie Factory and daughter of Hanes.

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The storage room is filled with hundreds of tin containers full of cookies ready to be package, shipped or purchased locally.

Rather than give in to the modern demand for faster, cheaper production, both women agree that a continued dedication to doing things the old fashioned way will set the business apart and strengthen its staying power. “What do you know in the United States that is still made by hand and when you call, you talk to a person, not a machine? It’s a personal business and not like most things today. It’s just customer satisfaction,” says Hanes, who, even in her mid-80s, still plans to help out filling orders during the holiday rush this year.

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Mr. and Mrs. Hanes enjoy a day at the cookie factory in the front entrance lined with media articles from around the world.

“There is a lot of competition out there,” says Templin, considering the future of the Cookie Factory. “There is a company that makes a Moravian cookie by machine and those cookies are much cheaper. But hopefully our customers will continue to appreciate the quality of our cookie.”

The extra effort is worth it, she adds, because of the people behind the operation. “We employ approximately 36 fulltime employees and we care about each one of them. I hope to keep them employed for as long as they want a job,” says Templin. “We actually have three generations of one family working here. So not only is this a family business, we are a business of families. I guess you could say I am highly motivated to make this business successful.”

Hanes has no doubt that it will be pure customer retention that will carry her company forward to lasting success. “We have the nicest customers in the world. They like us and we like them,” she says. “The people who come in around here know the whole family and everyone that works down there [at the bakery]. Our customers stay with us forever.”

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Everything Bright With Winter White

During the winter months it’s easy to find ourselves seeking refuge from cold and dreary days. With a bright pop of white you can turn any space into a cozy, bright, and inviting environment. There’s a trend in decorating that is transitioning to more neutral tones of beige, grays, and soft colors. Who’s to say that same transition can’t be made with a few simple steps and without robbing the bank?

Cozy and Bright Mantels
Candles, candles, and candles! If you do not utilize a wood burning fireplace there’s still no reason you can’t enjoy the relaxing firescape canvas of burning flames. Maybe you don’t enjoy the labor of building a fire, but with a variety of pillar candles you can add a little heat and enjoy the winter glow. Simply add 15-25 candles inside your fireplace and light. Grouping candles on the mantle is always a wonderful addition. Keep the colors of the pillar candles neutral. Whites, off whites, and even silver are excellent color options to brighten up dark mantel spaces.

Pleasant Pine Cones
We all have plenty of pine cones around our homes to choose from. Grab a few of them from the yard and bring them inside. To dry out the cones, place them on a cookie tray for 10-20 minutes on 200 degrees and they will fill your home with the woody aroma of pine as they dry. Once the pine cones are dry, take them into a nice open area and spray with white spray paint. Adding them to a bowl or around a decorative votive will brighten dark corners and fill any space for pennies.

Mirror Art
Take an old mirror or an affordable one you’ve found at a retail store in the size of your choosing. You’ll also need vinyl lettering, initial letters, or a vinyl decal that you like for your space. Get 1-2 spray cans of flat white paint or a quart size container of traditional paint, plus painters’ tape for masking. Laying the mirror on a flat surface, apply the vinyl lettering or decals to the mirror. If you want to preserve the mirror’s frame, cover it completely with masking tape to avoid paint from adhering to it.

In a well ventilated area, lightly spray the mirror with spray paint, leaving a light coat. It will take several coats to get to the desired color background, but keep the coats light and let dry completely between coats. Once the paint has dried fully (be sure allow 24 hours drying time), carefully remove the decal lettering or vinyl graphic from the mirror. The vinyl can be easier to remove if you use tweezers, but be careful not to scratch the paint outside of the vinyl area. Place the mirror on the mantel or in another decorated space, then toss in a few other decorative white items and you’re done!

Popsicle Snowflakes
This is a great activity that can get the kids involved. Grab a pack of regular size Popsicle sticks from the local craft store plus a hot glue gun and some spray paint in the desired color for your snowflakes. Think outside of the box with the colors. You might want to try silver, gold, or even blue as your snowflake colors. To start the project, line up your Popsicle sticks, crossing over each stick end to end until you have the snowflake pattern in the size you desire. Once you like your pattern, start hot gluing end to end with a small dot of hot glue.

Once the Popsicle snowflakes are completely glued together let them dry and lay them flat on a surface covered with newspaper or craft paper. Lightly spray the Popsicles snowflakes until you reach your desired color. Once they are completely dry, find the perfect place for your Popsicle snowflakes and enjoy your winter wonderland. These decorations make for great place settings at a holiday table or, for larger pieces, enjoy them as wall décor!

Keep it White with Fur
Decorative fur letters are a great addition to any space. Simply buy either foam letters or wooden letters from the local craft store. You can buy them as initials for your name or spell out holiday or winter words. Joy, Season, Snow, Twinkle, Cold, Brrr! are all great ideas for this project. All you need is some furry white fabric of your choice. White feathers will also work. Simply glue fabric or feathers to the letters to create a unique and cozy decoration this season.
Rustic Bleached Nature Elements
Pine cones and sticks are a cost effective way to turn natural outdoor elements into beautiful whitewashed colors for your tablescapes, mantels, or side tables this year. All you need are a few pinecones, cleaned up sticks (remove any hanging bark or leaves), and a vase or container to use as the display holder.

Place the sticks in a glass container (like a baking dish), laying each stick flat and not allowing them to overlap. Carefully pour bleach over the sticks until all parts are completely submerged. Relax and watch the bleach turn them into a beautiful whitewashed color. Leave submerged until your desired color is reached. Once you are satisfied with the whitewash, simply remove the sticks and set aside. Depending on the type of wood you’ve chosen, you may wish to remove the bleach smell. To do this, mix one-half cup baking soda to three cups water and wash the sticks. Lay them flat until dry, and then place them in your decorative container. Follow these same instructions for pine cones, acorns, and branches. Enjoy!

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Lovefeast: A Community Tradition

By Aaron Linville

Photos Courtesy Bill Ray

Imagine an almost completely dysfunctional community composed of religious dissenters. A community in which it was not uncommon for some to be called “Antichrist” and “the Beast.” A community that was so dysfunctional that one of the original members left town, built his own house, and waited for the community to implode. This was reality in Herrnhut, Germany in 1726 and 1727.

The town of Herrnhut began in 1722. Nicholas Ludwig Count von Zinzendorf met a few men who wanted to leave Catholic Moravia so that they could practice Christianity as their ancestors had done. Their ancestors were members of a reformation church that predated Luther by half a century. Zinzendorf gave them permission to live on his estate, an opportunity they quickly accepted. As the community grew, about the only thing that all the residents had in common was that they were religious dissenters of some kind. There were Lutherans, Catholics, Calvinists, and a few Schwenkfelders.

The natural outcome of all these different people living together was discord, and it was evident immediately. Over the next several years, the animosity grew and created the situation described in the opening paragraph.

lovefeast2Despite the fact that much of the hostility was directed at him, Zinzendorf held meetings with every member of the community, many times late into the night. His goal was to find a way for all these people to live together on his land, though he was in no way obliged to keep them on his land. After much hard work, Zinzendorf brought the whole community together on May 12, 1727. He presented them with the Brotherly Agreement: rules for a voluntary religious organization that emphasized practical Christian behavior and would exist as a part of the Lutheran Church. The Herrnhuters unanimously agreed to it. This was the first of many positive steps forward.

Then, on August 13, 1727, something incredible happened after a communion and confirmation service. This day has been seen as the culmination of a revival that began with the signing of the Brotherly Agreement. It has been called the Moravian Pentecost. It has been known as the birthday of the Moravian Church. By the power of the Holy Spirit and the incredible amount of work that they had all put into solving their differences, their identity changed. They went from being a part of a deeply divided and fractured town into a single community that put communal needs and the work of the Savior ahead of individual desires.

The Herrnhuters stayed so long after the service that Zinzendorf decided to provide a simple meal for them. This simple meal, on such a dramatic day, is the reason Moravians all over the world still hold lovefeasts on our holy days. We hold lovefeasts because it reminds us of the awe-inspiring work God has done for us, and the amazing work that God has for us to do.

August 13, 1727 was not the first lovefeast, though. Other pietist groups held lovefeasts during the 18th century, both before and after 1727. All of them, including the lovefeasts of today’s Moravian Church, are rooted in the early church and scripture.

In the book of Acts, there are two clear references to the early church eating together. The first is immediately after the record of the initial converts on the Day of Pentecost. In the first description of the new community, we read “All the believers were together and had everything in common…Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:44-45, NIV). The whole community of new believers came together every day to worship and share meals. No distinctions seem to have been made between believers. All were welcome at these meals.

A few chapters later in Acts, we find that some of the widows were not being served their daily distribution of food (Acts 6:1-7). The solution was not to stop holding the communal meals, but to set apart seven who would ensure that the whole community received food during the meals.

lovefeast3Christians never stopped eating together, but over the next several centuries, the practice of holding communal meals for the entire body of Christ in one area ceased. Even in the first century, this practice was not consistent. The disparity in and fracturing of the community in Corinth around eating together and remembering the Last Supper caused Paul to address it in his first letter to them (see I Corinthians 11:17-34).

Many pietist groups in the 18th century recognized that the communal meals of the early believers were a Biblical precedent for how they could follow the leading of God by sharing meals together. Their lovefeasts were meaningful, but like the early church, this practice eventually fell by the wayside. The reason Moravians still share lovefeasts is because of the powerful experience of the Holy Spirit blessed us with on August 13th.

Over the last 286 years, the way we use and share lovefeasts in the Moravian Church has changed. Moravians no longer use them to celebrate the birthdays of important members of our communities. We still use them to observe holy days, like August 13th and Christmas, and to celebrate other important events like Thanksgiving and church anniversaries.

The exact structure of a lovefeast varies from congregation to congregation and province to province, but the flow is typically the same in the United States. Often times there is prelude by that congregation’s brass band (part of the great tradition of Moravian music). After a word of welcome, the congregation begins to sing, and aside from a few brief moments, the music does not stop until the lovefeast is over. As a few verses are sung, the dieners (German for servers) come into the sanctuary and distribute a simple item to eat, usually a bun. After everyone has something to eat, the dieners process out and return with a beverage, usually coffee, to distribute. After everyone is served, the blessing is prayed, and everyone partakes of the simple meal together.

While the congregation is eating, there is almost always special music that is performed by the choir, brass band, or other musical group in the congregation. Once everyone has had time to eat, the dieners return to collect the cups while the congregation sings again. When this is done, the service is usually over, aside from the benediction and postlude. For Christmas though, there is one more beautiful component to the lovefeast.

After everyone has eaten and the dieners have left with the cups, they return – this time with candles. While the singing continues, everyone receives a candle. The flame is taken from the Christ Candle and passed from one person to the next until everyone has a lit candle and the electric lights dim. At this time, we sing “Morning Star, O Cheering Sight,” a favorite Moravian hymn that is sung antiphonally, usually led by the children of the congregation. Afterwards, the music crescendos to the climax of the service: the last hymn. During the last hymn, we all raise our candles and fill the sanctuary with light, reminding us that we are the light of the world and that the love of God brings light and life. I have never left a Christmas Candlelight Lovefeast without feeling the power of God, and a sense of awe of the birth of the Savior.
If you would like to experience a Moravian Christmas Lovefeast, find out if there is a Moravian congregation near you. Go to Moravian.org, click on ‘Find Us’ then ‘Find A Congregation.’ Check out their website or give them a call. Odds are that it will either be the Sunday before Christmas or Christmas Eve.

If you would like more information on Moravians, dig around on Moravian.org. You can also visit some of our historical sites like Old Salem and Historic Bethabara in Winston-Salem, NC, or Historic Bethlehem and Historic Nazareth in PA.

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Expressing Gifts – South Lexington Program

In the heart of Lexington lies a group of children and young adults that will melt your heart and help you realize the special moments in life. Each day 35 children and young adults enter through the doors into the South Lexington Elementary School Developmental Center, eager and excited to see familiar faces. They are seeking acceptance, guidance, and companionship from fellow students, teachers, and administrators. What happens behind these doors each day is molding innovation and creativity.

solex4A newer curriculum added to the Developmental Center is called School Based Enterprise. What that really means is, “a chance to find expression and creativity for our students,” says teacher Bekah Macon. During the day, all 35 students come through her classroom making uniquely expressive crafts that are sold during the state’s Exceptional Children’s Conference held at the Koury Convention Center each November.

“This program gives students a chance to be like everyone else,” according to Macon. “We make decorative wood pieces, bird feeders, painted tin cans, and even note cards in this classroom.”
“Most of the supplies for these projects are donated or recycled from everyday items like tin cans from our school cafeteria or sticks from outside,” says Principal Cathy Misenhiemer. “Some items are donated as we need them, like our wood blocks that are painted and designed by our students.”

Misenhiemer, who was recently honored as Lexington City Schools Principal of the Year, has spent over 36 years as a teacher or administrator with the city schools and special needs programs. “These children are my life and inspiration. They deserve the best, just like any other student,” she says.

solex8Two years ago, when Misenhiemer became the Developmental Center’s principal, she brought innovation and the ability to think outside the box. One of the many changes made to the center was the changing of classrooms throughout the day. “We have to help our students strive to improve and give them opportunity,” says Misenhiemer.

Soon after she joined the staff, she registered all the students and staff for the Exceptional Children’s Conference. At this conference, the staff and students bring the items they’ve worked to create over the school year to the convention center to sell during the event. The conference also provides professional development for the staff. This year’s conference is scheduled for November 8-10 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro.

solex1“Last year was our first year participating and we pretty much sold out of all the items we brought to the event,” says Macon. “Our students have been working very hard to have as many items as we possibly can make before the event in November.” The money raised during the event helps to buy paint and supplies to keep the program active.

Looking around the room, you see smiles and forms of expression that many of us are unfamiliar with understanding, but within a few minutes you can see just how much this program means to these students. Some of them are unable to verbally communicate through words and some have severe physical limitations, but all of the students participate and find a form of expression. The kids pick their colors on their own by pointing or using a color chart to select their choice for the project. “What’s amazing to see is that these students pick some of the prettiest and most perfect color combinations. You can really see their ideas and expression come out in each project,” says Macon.

Macon continues, “This is the first year that I’ve had this curriculum, although I dabbled in it last year. Now I have the ability to help these students find a way to release their emotions and expression every day.”

solex7The classroom is not the final place where the students have the ability to show their skills. During the actual conference, some of the students from the Developmental Center will go along, and they are the ones who sell their items. Some of the children utilize vocal assistance through computer voicing to introduce themselves to potential buyers of their crafts. They also locate items customers want to purchase using cue cards. The prices of items sold range from two to eight dollars each, with the larger items like the wood decorative pieces falling into the higher range.

solex2“Last year, this program brought in a few hundred dollars from the event, which is great for our students,” Macon says. “Most of these students will not be able to have jobs or enter the workforce, but this program allows us to give them an opportunity to make items, sell items, and reap the benefits of that process just like any other person.”

She continues, “I see how this program is impacting their lives every day. They come into the classroom eager to participate and it’s also building their skillset.” Some of the skills the students are working on include grabbing and releasing skills. Some are working on play based learning skills. All of these skills are being addressed with this program.

Macon’s love of the developmental program is evident from the second you walk into the classroom. She says, “Our motto is like the hashtag, #MoreLikeThemThanDifferent. We want these students to see their importance to our society, and the ability to make these crafts gives them that reassurance.”