The original inventor of frozen garlic bread, Cole’s Quality Foods, Inc., recently established an unlikely partnership through the launch of their new cheese-stuffed bread bites, Middles. When contemplating how to launch the innovative new product, the team at Cole’s decided to stage the official product introduction in the geographical “middle” of the U.S. in Lebanon, Kan.

The partnership began with an initial visit to Lebanon to learn more about the opportunities available for a launch, but it quickly turned into something special.

“Lebanon is a wonderful place with incredibly friendly people who really value the simple things in life,” said Bruce Kratt, president of Cole’s Quality Foods, Inc. “We quickly discovered that the town is agriculturally based, but is finding growth a challenge because younger people do not necessarily want to continue the tradition of maintaining their family farms. That’s where we saw a real opportunity to help make a difference.”

Following the initial visit, the Cole’s team realized they wanted to do more than simply launch Middles in the geographical middle of the U.S. After learning the population of Lebanon has been declining for decades and has one of the highest percentages of nonagenarians (people in their 90s) in the country, the team decided to put more effort into bringing a younger crowd to Lebanon to experience all the community has to offer. That’s when Cole’s came up with an idea related to the city’s annual Lebanon Bash festival.

“For the local community, the entire goal behind Lebanon Bash was to create an atmosphere that encouraged people to visit and discover why Lebanon is a great place to live,” said Kratt. “To support these efforts, we took a bus load of employee volunteers to work at the event with the local folks from Lebanon and sponsored an outstanding concert by Logan Mize, an up-and-coming country singer originally from Kansas.” 

Attendees were able to enjoy a fishing tournament, 5k fun run, archery, trap shooting and a community parade. The event concluded with the concert and a $5,000 donation from Cole’s to the US Center Foundation—an annual donation that will continue in perpetuity.

“What resulted was an exciting event that brought nearly 1,000 people to community, almost quintupling their population,” said Kratt. “We are already looking forward to Lebanon Bash next year. If you have not been to Lebanon, Kansas, it should be on your bucket list.”

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