Evva Hanes, the woman behind Mrs. Hanes’ Moravian Cookies, started baking almost before she could reach the kitchen table. Today, Mrs. Hanes’ Moravian Cookies are shipped around the globe, and they are still hand-rolled and hand-cut in a kitchen on the same farm property where she was born.
Evva, a 7th generation Moravian, says “My mother allowed me to actually help take the cookies off the pans and stack them when I was 5 or 6, but I was much older before I was allowed to handle and roll the dough.” Her ancestors immigrated to North
Carolina in the early 1700s, from an area east of what is now the Czech Republic. “Even before I was born, my mother Bertha Crouch Foltz baked Moravian cookies to sell as a way to help support our family that included her, my father and seven children, so baking just comes naturally for me.”
It was a big day when Davidson EMC (now EnergyUnited) electric cooperative brought electricity to Clemmons when Evva was 4 years old.
“Until then we had a wood-burning stove, and Mother was very skilled at getting the temperature right so that the cookies wouldn’t burn,” she says. “These days, things are a bit easier, but we still roll, cut and pack all our cookies by hand. Ours are the only Moravian cookies in the area that are still being made by hand.”
A growing family
In 1952, she married Travis Hanes. In the early days of their marriage, Travis attended college while Evva worked at Hanes Hosiery Mill (no relation) and continued to help her mother bake cookies.
“As she got older, Mother couldn’t roll the cookies, so I took on more of the responsibility, helping every day after work and on Saturdays. We were also raising our two children, Mona and Mike, so it was a very busy time.”
Ten years later at the birth of her third child, Jonathan, Evva left Hanes Hosiery and turned to cookie making full-time, shifted her baking kitchen to the family’s remodeled basement. They installed air conditioning and two ovens, making it possible to increase the capacity to bake thousands of Moravian sugar cookies to sell each day.
“At that time, I was only making sugar cookies, but I also developed a serious allergy to flour dust, so I had to ask two neighbors to help me,” she says. “Still, I kept baking and soon added molasses cookies to our choices. By the time Caroline, our fourth child, came along in 1968, we decided to hire two full-time employees to do the work and get me out of the flour dust. Caroline literally saved my life.”
Building a brand
It was time for a business decision. In 1970, she and Travis constructed a dedicated building on the family farm. After several additions, it has become the official home of Mrs. Hanes. By 1985, they incorporated and formally named the company Mrs. Hanes’ Moravian Cookies/Moravian Sugar Crisp Co. Inc.
The recipe is the exact same one that her great-great-grandmother brought to America more than 200 years ago, when they settled near Winston-Salem with others who founded the Friedberg Moravian Church and one of the two largest Moravian communities in the United States. Baking these special cookies is part of the tradition still honored today in Moravian communities.
Over the years, she expanded the flavors to include Sugar Crisps, Ginger Crisps, Butterscotch Crisps, Black Walnut Crisps, Lemon Crisps, and Chocolate Crisps.
“Today, my children and grandchildren are running the business,” says Evva, who will celebrate her 88th birthday this November. “But Travis and I are very much involved in many ways. I’m so proud of our Moravian traditions we can share with others through our family.”
Their daughter, Mona Hanes Templin, who is president of the company, and her son, Jedidiah Templin, are the most actively involved, but others including cousins, nieces and nephews also work there.
Looking back over her memories of growing up on the farm where she and Travis live and where her family’s cookies are still baked, she smiles.
“Never in my wildest dreams as a young girl, did I imagine that I would be baking Moravian cookies and have such a wonderful husband, children, and grandchildren,” she says. “I have been blessed beyond measure.”
Article originally published in CarolinaCountry.com authored by Pamela A. Keene