The once popular Félix & Norton brand name is continuing its comeback with the launch new cookie-flavoured K-cup coffees and hot chocolates.
"Things are going extremely well," brand founder Mike Eskenazi told Canadian Grocer this week from his home in Montreal's West Island.
The city native opened the first Monsieur Félix & Mr. Norton cookie shop in the Quebec metropolis in 1985, at age 29.
In its heyday in the late 1990s, the high-end speciality cookie company grew to a mixed chain of 45 commercial and franchise outlets in Quebec and Ontario.
Eskenazi sold his stores to the Sweet Factory in 2000, but retained the Félix & Norton trademark.
After a failed private-label food manufacturing venture, he tried to revive the Félix & Norton brand in 2008 by driving a food truck around Montreal, serving up batches of fresh-baked cookies at public events.
"It was a totally crazy idea to get the cookies back into people's mouths," recalled Eskenazi. "No matter where we went, people from all walks of life — young and old, French and English, rich and poor — were saying, 'Where have you been? We love your cookies.'"
He found a new channel of distribution in 2010 with the launch of Félix & Norton cookie dough in plastic tubs exclusively at Sobeys stores.
Two years later came frozen Félix & Norton gourmet cakes made with cookie dough. "People loved them but they didn't move as we had hoped," said Eskenazi.
In 2014, he shook things up with a rebranding that included dropping the Monsieur and Mr. from the name, a new logo, new colours, and a repackaging of the cookie dough from tubs to stand-up pouches.
Introduced at the SIAL show in Montreal, the pouches were picked up by both Sobeys and Metro and have been on store shelves across Quebec for the past year. "They have done extremely well," said Eskenazi.
In October, he added another sales channel with the launch of 'Cookie Madness,' a baked product that is exclusive to St. Hubert restaurants.
According to Eskenazi, it's the first time the iconic roast chicken chain has brought an outside brand into its outlets.
He has also entered into licensing deals with Two Rivers Coffee, a New York City-based company that sells single-serve coffee cups under the Brooklyn Beans Roastery name in some 4,000 retail outlets across the U.S., including chains such as Winn-Dixie and HEB Grocery.
This week three flavours each of Félix & Norton K-cup coffees and hot chocolate started rolling off the company's production line.
"They were looking for a known brand to enter the Canadian market," said Askenazi, who claims to be on the verge of inking some deals with major Canadian grocers.
"The product is very visually striking, with our cookies on the cover. I think they will do very well here."