Carrie Rengers

Cero's joins Wichita food firms going global

Wichita apparently is a hotbed of potential products for Arthur Kerr to market domestically and internationally.

Connie's Cookies and Byblos Restaurant already have deals with Kerr Enterprises of New York to market products.

Now, Cero's Candies is working with Kerr to sell its peanut brittle.

"This is really kind of our first venture," Cero's general manager Marni Eickelman says of actively marketing to potential customers outside of Wichita.

She says they particularly will focus on Canada but look at opportunities in Japan, the United Kingdom and on the East and West coasts.

Catalogs and magazines are possibilities, too.

"It's kind of exciting and new, something different," Eickelman says.

Originally, Kerr wanted a chocolate to market but settled on peanut brittle.

"Mainly because chocolate is so difficult to ship, just because of the weather and how it has to be temperature-controlled," Eickelman says.

Cero's will celebrate 125 years next year.

The Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas bought it 10 years ago.

"The main goal at that time... was to have an opportunity to get individuals to get back to work," Eickelman says of people with special needs.

"We have a little innovative program." The idea is to help people reintegrate into the community.

"Everything we do here is very labor-intensive," Eickelman says. "Everything is still (done) the old-fashioned way."

The peanut brittle is relatively simple, she says.

"We thought to start with it would be the easiest way to go."

But Eickelman doesn't want that to be where the marketing ends.

"Hopefully, the possibilities are endless."

Cookie campaign

Sonya Nicholson started making cookies out of her home as a part-time business eight years ago.

Then, after losing her job in August, she held an October cookie sale to keep from being evicted.

Now, she wants to open Sonya's Good Ole' Cookies across from Riverside Perk .

The October sale is part of what's motivating her.

"The community support was just awesome. It just made me feel really good."

Nicholson is looking to the community again to raise enough money to open the business.

She's selling cookie club memberships, which offer one of eight kinds of cookies over three-, six- or 12-month intervals. You can reach her at to sign up.

"I'm on a cookie campaign," Nicholson says. "I'm just trying to stay self-sufficient."

All of Nicholson's recipes are originals, she says.

Her best seller is the Big O , a cream cheese, chocolate chip cookie with toffee bits that got its name because tasters call it "oh so good."

You don't say

"A few drinks is fine, but I learned not to bring a beer helmet with two straws built in. One straw is plenty.

—Electrician Kevin Moore on attending office holiday parties