Frosted pink cookies have brought in a lot of green for one Utah family.

It all began seven years ago when Dave and DeAnn Stone of Farmington leased a small kitchen in Ogden and started spending their nights baking cookies, selling them to local convenience stores during the day.

"When I started it was just myself, my children and my wife baking cookies. We started out with $2,000 of our savings and just lived very frugally the first year," said Dave Stone, chief executive officer and chairman of Lofthouse Foods Inc., a Clearfield-based company.

On Thursday, Ralcorp Holdings Inc. of St. Louis announced it was purchasing the Utah-grown company for an undisclosed amount.

"This company fits very well into our strategy," said Thomas Granneman, a spokesman for Ralcorp, a publicly owned company that specializes in store-brand foods.

Granneman said Ralcorp has no immediate plans to alter Lofthouse's popular big, pink cookie or move the company's two production facilities, which are in Clearfield and Ogden.

It was the rapidly growing fame of that Lofthouse cookie in the 1990s that made the operations of the family-owned business spread.

"I was doing day care in our home at the time, and David said, 'You need to quit day care and start answering the phones and put QuickBooks on the computer,' " said DeAnn Stone, adding that they had six children when the company launched.

"He would make cookies all night, and I would get up early and get the kids to school," she said.

From convenience stores to in-store bakeries, Lofthouse cookies now can be found in Albertson's, Smiths and Wal-Mart.

"We sell to most of the major grocery chains in the country. We are in all 50 states," said Dave Stone, who has spent his career in the food industry working for companies like Marie Callender's.

Today, the company makes 2 million cookies a day, said Mike Ringwood, president. And while many people may not recognize the Lofthouse brand name, most identify with the cookie's bright pink signature.

"If people don't know Lofthouse Foods you just say 'the big sugar cookie with pink frosting and sprinkles,' and people know what it is. That's how everyone has identified this company," said Joyce Fordman, an assistant to Dave Stone.

The company employs 550 people and reported sales of $70 million in 2001, a 56 percent increase from $45 million in sales the previous year.

Dave Stone said he believes the sale to Ralcorp is a perfect fit for his company.

"We are at a point where our plants are reaching capacity. We now have a more complete line of cookie products to sell to bakeries," he said.

For the Stone family, the company's growth has assured financial independence.

"We've always just been like everyone else, living from paycheck to paycheck, trying to get by," DeAnn Stone said. "To me, it's just little miracles that came our way."


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