Jackson Cookie Company

The Jackson Cookie Company, which originated in North Little Rock (Pulaski County), produced a variety of confections that were beloved by consumers both inside and outside Arkansas. Over the years, their products included cookies such as chocolate chip, chocolate fudge, lemon-flavored Jackson Jumbles, peanut butter, oatmeal, and what was considered by many to be the company’s crown jewel, Jackson’s Vanilla Wafers. Its plant in North Little Rock closed in 2004. Residents recall how the aroma of Jackson’s cookies baking would sweetly scent the downtown area.

The Jackson Cookie Company opened in North Little Rock in 1933 during the Great Depression. The business partners were Joseph Conlee “J. C.” Jackson, C. R. Jackson, and W. A. Jackson. Its first establishment was on Seventh Street, later moving to 113 South Olive Street in North Little Rock.

The business was successful, although in 1941, a suit was filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for alleged unfair labor practices. The case was titled “In the Matter of J. C. Jackson, C. R. Jackson, and W. A. Jackson, Co-Partners, Doing Business as the Jackson Cookie Company of North Little Rock, Arkansas, and Bakery & Confectionery Workers Local Union No. 442, Affiliated with the American Federation of Labor.” Five former employees alleged that they had been attempting to organize workers at the company into a union, but the owners threatened to close the plant rather than recognize a union. The workers further alleged that management had questioned employees regarding union membership, instructing them not to unionize. The case was adjudicated by the NLRB under discrimination guidelines based on the alleged threat of employees being discharged for union activities and/or membership. The response by the company owners was that they would provide continuous employment during slack seasons, so there was no need to join a union. A remedial order in the case was reinstatement with back pay for the five workers, who had been discharged for union activities. At the time of the lawsuit, it was noted in legal papers that total sales for the Jackson Cookie Company in 1939 amounted to $104,729 (about $2.2 million in 2023 dollars); two percent of sales were made outside Arkansas.

The Jackson Cookie Company instilled a deep brand loyalty for its products. Jackson Jumbles, which were soft, fluffy lemon cookies that had a small hole in the middle, became a special favorite of children. Many young people held the belief that the proper way to eat Jackson Jumbles was with a pinkie finger through the hole. The product was recognizable at the store for its red, white, and green packaging. Another favorite was Jackson’s Vanilla Wafers, which caught the eye of grocery shoppers in a distinctive clear bag with a red, white, and blue logo. Many cooks insisted that Jackson’s Vanilla Wafers were the only ones to use in banana pudding recipes or certain pie crusts.

In 2004, the Jackson brand was acquired by Murray Foods, a subsidiary of Kellogg’s. The obtainability of Jackson’s cookie products steadily decreased, with the popular Jackson Jumbles becoming unavailable.

In 2019, the Luxembourg-based multinational Ferrero Rocher group acquired Kellogg’s cookie and fruit snack lines. Ferrero Rocher originally became known for its chocolate/hazelnut candy in a gold foil covering. At the time of the sale, Ferrero announced that the purchase would include brands such as Keebler and Famous Amos, which it stated would strengthen its position in the North American market.

On December 18, 2022, Arkansas food writer Kat Robinson reported the discontinuation of Jackson’s Vanilla Wafers. By that time, according Ferrero Rocher, the last of the cookies had been made and distributed. Robinson stated that with supplies already dwindling in food stores, the news “brought virtual online wails of despair from the public, with disbelief a common thread.”

For additional information:
Brant, Kelly. “Front Burner: Lemon Jumble Copycat Is No Jackson’s but It’s Still Good.” Arkansas Online, August 28, 2019. https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2019/aug/28/lemon-jumble-imposter-still-good-201908/ (accessed May 4, 2023).

Ferrero Rocher. https://www.ferrerorocher.com/us/en/ (accessed May 4, 2023).

“Ferrero to Acquire Kellogg Company’s Cookies and Fruit Snacks Businesses.” Ferrero.com, January 4, 2019. https://www.ferrero.com/news/Ferrero-to-acquire-Kellogg-company-s-cookies-and-fruit-snacks-businesses (accessed May 4, 2023).

“In the Matter of J. C. Jackson, C. R. Jackson, and W. A. Jackson, Co-Partners, Doing Business as the Jackson Cookie Company of North Little Rock, Arkansas and Bakery & Confectionery Workers Local Union No.442, Affiliated with the American Federation of Labor.” Casetext.com. https://casetext.com/admin-law/the-jackson-cookie-co-of-north-litte-rock (accessed May 4, 2023).

Robinson, Kat. “Jackson’s Vanilla Wafers Discontinued.” Arkansas Times, December 19, 2022. https://arktimes.com/eat-arkansas/2022/12/19/jacksons-vanilla-wafers-discontinued (accessed May 4, 2023).

———. “New Girl Scout Lemon-Ups Are a Happy Tie to the Past.” Tie Dye Travels with Kat Robinson, January 2020. https://www.tiedyetravels.com/2020/01/new-girl-scout-lemon-ups-are-happy-tie.html (accessed May 4, 2023).

Nancy Hendricks
Garland County Historical Society


    Miss those ole time lemon cookies with the hole in the center. I haven’t tasted a lemon cookie that could compare to the taste. I wish somehow someway that recipe would get in the hands of a cook that could start selling them to satisfy that taste that Jackson cookie gave me.

    Faron Fowler Hayti, MO

    Bring back our lemon jumble and vanilla wafers. Please.

    Gail Newell Conway, AR

    What I will never understand is why buy out a company that is thriving, very popular, highly sought after, and anxiously awaiting upon for stores to restock every month, then acquire the famous company and brand then shut it down. That makes no sense, to spend money just to waste it. Was a bully tactic. Well, whatever the reason there was no rhyme for them to shut down Jackson Cookie Company!!!!

    Corey Harris Madison County, AL

    Makes me sick they are gone; no other vanilla wafer cookies take the place of Jackson’s for our banana pudding. That Walmart brand is terrible and Keebler ones are so expensive.

    Betty Clemmons Rudy, AR

    Bring back the vanilla wafer cookies. Miss them for making banana pudding.

    Doris Wright Alamo, TN

    Sure wish I could still get their vanilla wafers. It was the best cookie ever for homemade banana pudding. Please someone get recipes for them and start making them again.

    Ricky Sheffield MS

    What does it take to bring back the Jackson vanilla wafers? I moved to Chicago and my family would always send or bring cookies to me. I am so very disappointed to hear this news. And yes the Original cookie was definitely the best.

    Monica Williams Pine Bluff, AR

    Why do companies discontinue decades-long favorites? My grandmother’s homemade banana pudding recipe will NEVER taste the same (or near as good) without Jackson vanilla wafers (the secret ingredient). Hands-down the BEST vanilla wafer on the planet.

    Paige Arnold Memphis, TN

    A big mistake doing away with Jackson vanilla wafers and the lemon jumble. But I agree with other comment that banana pudding and lemon ice box pie do not have the same taste without the Jackson vanilla wafers. Please bring them back!

    BG Morris Clarksdale, MS

    I want them to bring back the Jackson Vanilla Wafer, the original version. After the company was sold, the cookies were different. Also, they should bring back the Lemon Jumbles.

    Lydia Lee Little Rock, AR