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Frieda's Branded Produce, the iconic specialty brand Frieda Rapoport Caplan in 1962, announced on Friday that the company has been sold to Anaheim, California-based Legacy Farms.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In a note on Friday, CEO Karen Caplan - who with her sister, Jackie Caplan Wiggins (Frieda's Vice President & CAO), has been running the company - wrote that "after more than a year of discussions, Legacy Farms LLC, based in Anaheim, California has acquired the assets of Frieda’s, Inc.  We will now be known as Frieda’s LLC and our new CEO is Dan Madsen.  Dan has been a friend for many years and has been leading Legacy Farms since 2019 … Legacy Farms really values Frieda’s strong culture and branding and is excited to be the new steward of the first and best-selling brand of specialty produce in the US.  We can’t help but brag that Frieda’s brand has a 30% faster velocity than the next leading brand."

Caplan went on:  "We are so excited that his first order of business was to name my eldest daughter, Alex Jackson as Vice President, Sales & Procurement!  As you know, Alex is the third generation of our family business, founded by our mother, Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan in 1962.  Alex has been a significant part of our company’s success during the last 12 years and she is very excited about this new, expanded opportunity."

And, she wrote:   "My sister, Jackie Caplan Wiggins and I will continue working in an advisory capacity to Dan and the Frieda’s team and are beyond thrilled at the opportunities for our company to expand. Our company color will still be purple, our branded packaging will continue to be eye-catching and our team members will continue to service you with our well known passion and attention to detail. Our current sales and purchasing team will continue to work with you as normal in the course of business."

KC's View:

The first word that comes to my mind is bittersweet.  I understand that sometimes companies need to do this - the economics make sense, and there is greater marketing power and potential when companies are combined.

But I still kind of feel bad about this.  Frieda's was so special, so much the product of an individual sensibility made manifest through the labors of her family, that it is hard to imagine it as part of another company.

If this sounds sentimental, I plead guilty.  Frieda Rapoport Caplan wasn't just an MNB reader, but a supporter - I loved the emails I'd get from her, asking questions about choices I'd made or opinions I'd expressed, concerned entirely with my being as good as I could be.  It was a friendship I treasured.

A memory that remains vivid for me goes back to Saturday, September 16, 2019.  I was in Southern California to give a speech, and I spent several hours that afternoon with Frieda at her home, hanging with her and her daughter, Jackie.  She'd had some health issues, but was sharp as could be, asking me questions about stories I'd done, challenging me to think about things differently.  It was a great afternoon.  And several months later, after she passed away, I was privileged to be one of the speakers and emcees at the celebration of her life that was one of the last events that those of who attended went to before the pandemic closed everything down.

At the time, I wrote:

She had such a wonderfully indomitable spirit, infectious enthusiasm for life, and mischievous sense of humor - she was the kind of old person that I would like to be, which is to say not really old at all.  Sometimes the parts wear out, but the heart and soul continue on.  In Freida’s case, they will be sustained by the business she created and that the family shepherds and grows.  But they also will find life in those of us lucky enough to know her.

Bottom line, for me:    I'm glad they're keeping the Frieda's name and color, and I just hope that in the end, the Frieda's legacy is the one with the dominant DNA.