The fourth owner of Yates Cider Mill, Les Posey grew up living the Yates life. Starting when he was in high school, he had a hand in nearly every aspect of the business over his 40-year tenure at the mill – from labeling bottles, giving out cider samples, and selling worm bait to buying equipment and land to run the business.
But there’s one aspect in particular that Yates Cider Mill fans may really wish to thank him for: candy and caramel apples!
“One of my first jobs was a new venture of candied apples,” he said. “That became my little business.”
He single-handedly – or double-handedly, if you will – bought the apples, sticks, sugar mix, and equipment to make the candied apples. He learned to make them so efficiently that he would dip and rotate two at a time, one in each hand.
His parents, who owned the Mill at the time, allowed him space inside of what was known as the Yates family’s former “Minnow House.” He sold the candy apples at the main counter during the weekends and in his own space throughout the week, and they became so popular that he had to hire someone to help him.
Soon, however, Les’s candy apple business branched out into the world of caramel, and that happened after a suggestion from the owner of another local cider mill.
“I went for supplies one day for my candied apples and bumped into the manager of that mill, and he encouraged me to get into caramel apples. So I started exploring that,” Les said.
Pretty soon, half of the apples he sold were candy and the other half were caramel. Eventually, the red apples dwindled in popularity, and it became challenging to maintain the equipment for both.
The candy apples ended up falling by the wayside, but, thankfully, the caramel apples remain a staple at the Yates Cider Mill of today.
So, yes, if you love our sweet, juicy, sticky caramel apples, you have Les Posey to thank.
(Come back later to read more of Les Posey’s stories and other historical tidbits about Yates Cider Mill, the people, and the community as it was way back when.)