Mrs. Fields Files For Bittersweet Bankruptcy Protection

Mrs. Fields, the sweet old woman with the cookies, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today because flour and milk have become too expensive. Besides, you people aren’t splurging on luxuries likes sweets or meals out anyway thanks to the ongoing non-recession inflation thing that also killed off Bennigan’s.

Under a prepackaged bankruptcy, Mrs. Fields would file for Chapter 11 protection having already developed a plan to repay its creditors and exit from bankruptcy. Mrs. Fields’s restructuring plan calls for its noteholders to exchange their $195.7 million in notes for $90 million in cash, $50 million in new senior secured notes and 87.5% of the company’s new common stock. The noteholders are expected to recover 86.5% on their claims.

The Mrs. Fields brand was born in 1977, when Debbi Fields opened up her first cookie shop in Palo Alto, Calif. The company turned to franchising in 1990 and has nearly 390 locations in the U.S. and 80 internationally, according to its Web site, plus hundreds of TCBY stores.

The company, however, has struggled with a heavy debt load and has racked up losses in recent months. Mrs. Fields posted a net loss of about $10.7 million for the quarter ended June 28.

Guess the scent of cookies isn’t enough to convince consumers to splurge after all.

Mrs. Fields Will Seek Bankruptcy Protection [The Wall Street Journal]
Cookie Maker Mrs. Fields Files for Chapter 11 [Fox Business]

Comments

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  1. morganlh85 says:

    FUCK now I want some cookies.

  2. Fatty Shcock says:

    So no more random occurrences of splurging at malls, I take it?

    Oh noes, not another reason for businesses to take the financial beating!

  3. ctaylor says:

    They are nice cookies, but too expensive for what you get. I’d rather bake some at home (right next to my home-baked pizza)…

  4. Carbonic says:

    aye aye capt’n, all for the home bakes pizza, load it up with garlic and ur set!

  5. Starfury says:

    @ctaylor: I agree. They’re good cookies but I can bake my own that are just as good. I also do homemade pizza.

    I still can’t seem to get homemade ice cream the consistency of the store bought..but mine does taste better.

  6. MercuryPDX says:

    @ctaylor: I used to get the “day olds”, but that was when we HAD a Ms. Fields instead of Hot Topic.

  7. morganlh85 says:

    Yeah but sometimes you just one ONE cookie, not a zillion.

  8. Eldritch says:

    Now they’re taking our cookies? Noooooooooooooo! Won’t someone think of the baked goods? QUICK, SOMEONE DEFEND KRISPY KREME!

  9. eddmel says:

    Around 25 yrs ago there was a Mrs. Fields store a few blocks from me and the cookies & brownies were wonderful. The building got knocked down. A few yrs ago I had Mrs. Fields cookies at an airport…they were ok but not as good as 25 yrs ago. I also make delicious cookies myself (with really good European butter, also good for piecrust)I make pizza from scratch. Also excellent ice cream without a machine, very easy.

  10. TVarmy says:

    The only thing they’re good for is the massive cookie cake, and that’s just for the sheer gimmick. Otherwise, they’re selling something people have always made themselves in massive portions. Cookie making is not hard. It’s just one step above pancakes in terms of difficulty, and even if you screw up, the end result is still okay. The basic trick is to find a good recipe (my favorite is the Tollhouse style recipe in The Best Recipe, but the recipe on the back of the bag of Tollhouse chips is also fine) and take the cookies out before they look entirely done (set around the sides).

    Of course, if you get yourself a good cookie scoop (look at a restaurant supply store or go to acemart.com if you don’t know one near you) and some parchment paper, that makes the whole ritual a bit easier. A good, thick aluminum jellyroll pan is nice, too (aluminum because it gets hot enough to crisp the cookies, but not hot enough to burn them, jellyroll because it’s heartbreaking to see a cookie slide off a sheet pan before its time, and jellyroll pans work for a whole bunch of other things, too.) All in all, it takes about an hour, but it also makes a ton of cookies (5 dozen, I believe). Avoid shortening, as it has little flavor and actually masks the tongue with flavorless fat.

    For the record, I tend to go for the traditional size of cookies, which I guess is about the size of a Nintendo Gamecube’s DVD. At that size, the cookies are not extremely filling (Who wants to keep half a cookie as leftovers?), and they’re just big enough to develop the texture I like, which is crisp at the edge and bottom, and soft in the center.

  11. TACP says:

    She always made soft cookies, and tried to get the cookie companies to use her ideas. She then started her own company. They laughed, and said she’d never last. Well, I guess they were right in a way. Personally, I like crispy cookies.

  12. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    I like cookies, and I mean, I like cookies, but if I’m buying cookies and not baking them (or having a certain special someone bake them for me), they had better be good. I’d much rather go into my local family owned bakery as opposed to some franchised crap with a couple of apathetic teenagers at the helm.

  13. Sucko-T says:

    I consider this sweet revenge for Mrs. Fields knocking out the mom and pop cookie shop in my mall. As far as I’m concerned they’re finally getting their just desserts. It sucks for the employees but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles when your company runs out of dough.

  14. James says:

    I wondered why the store in our mall closed…huh.

  15. TVarmy says:

    @Sucko-T: It’s just deserts. Believe it or not, that’s the proper spelling. There’s a rarely used, third meaning for the homonym. It means reward/punishment, and is spelled deserts, which can be both positive and negative. An annoying quirk of the English language. First, it’s hard to tell apart sweets after a meal (dessert) and barren land/a verb meaning to abandon (desert), but then you get something completely unintuitive to the modern ear. Que libertarians saying that if we would just privatize the English language, we’d be over these stupid rules.

  16. iCanhasLs2plz says:

    After reading this I ran out to snag me a pack of Pepperidge Farm cookies. Mmm.

  17. TVarmy says:

    @Eldritch: Krispy Kream are killing themselves slowly. Sadly, they went crazy with growth and franchizing right before the low carb craze, because people were beginning to discover them and like them. Then, high carbs were bad, and their donuts, a combination of fat, enriched flour, and sugar, were considered the biggest taboo. Now, they’re being hit doubly hard because they’re selling a treat at a time where people aren’t eager to spend money on treats.

    Although I don’t like Dunkin Donuts, I have to admit their plans to diversify are good, although the only thing I like are their donuts (Which I eat every two months at most) and their iced coffee shake, which is too expensive. However, there really is something for everyone there, and were I the type to eat breakfast out or buy my coffee from a shop (I use an aeropress), I’d consider them.

    However, I don’t like their coffee and I don’t like that their coffee costs more than Starbucks, which isn’t great but is acceptable for when I’m out and about, and am ready to fall asleep at the wheel.

  18. dantsea says:

    Oh, “rising material prices” are the new “because of 9/11″ — a lot of companies find it convenient to cover their asses using a huge story in the news. Less messy when your internal mismanagement can be blamed on something external.

  19. parad0x360 says:

    I kinda like the cookies I make better…on top of that I can make about 30 of them for the price of 2 of their regular sized cookies. Of course last time I got one was a couple years ago so the price has probably gone up since then.

    There is no cookie in the world worth $2. There is a pretzel place near me called Auntie Anne’s. You used to be able to get a pretzel for $1.25 which was reasonable. Today that same pretzel is $3.50. I just dont get it. I wonder if they will have to file for chapter 11 as well.

  20. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @TVarmy: I went ahead and gave Sucko-T the benefit of the doubt. I’m pretty sure Sucko-T spelled it “desserts” as a joke, considering Mrs. Field’s sells cookies. That being said, not sure why you defined it, I’m sure Sucko-T knew what it meant, given the context

  21. magic8ball says:

    @TVarmy: Did you mean “cue Libertarians”? I wouldn’t normally quibble, but you seem interested in exactness …

  22. cmdrsass says:

    @dantsea: It doesn’t sound like you’ve been paying attention.

    All raw materials used in baking are rising. Flour is up from about $10-15 for 50lb to $25-30. Eggs are up about 40% over the last year. Milk is up 25-30% or so. Even sugar is more expensive. High prices for raw materials are squeezing food makers big and small. The small guys go out of business (like the local pizza shops and bakers) and the big guys increase prices (ex Hershey) or file for bankruptcy.

  23. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @TomCruisesTesticles: And most well educated people are familiar with the term. But we’re all very impressed. Really, we are.

  24. MercuryPDX says:

    @TVarmy: Desert has one ‘s’ because you only want to be there once. Dessert has two because you always want seconds. ;)

  25. MyPetFly says:

    …baked with love by the Stepford Wife prototype…

  26. TVarmy says:

    @magic8ball: I did that only to show that I’m not a total spelling Nazi.

  27. dantsea says:

    @cmdrsass: Thanks for your concern, but I’ve been paying attention — as has Mrs. Field Famous Brands LLC. No one would dispute that materials have increased in price, and no one would further dispute that this is not the first time there have been spikes in the cost of materials over the 31-year history of that enterprise.

    However, it is also no secret that many companies have use such events to sweep a great deal of fraud and mismanagement under the carpet, and while that may not be the case with Fields (I’m not an insider), I’ve attended far too many corporate postmortems to suspend my disbelief just this once.

  28. pixiegirl1 says:

    You know I haven’t seen a Mrs.Fields store in eons I only saw them at the mall and the last one I recall seeing was back when I was in high school(class of 2000! I have seen their cookies sold at the grocery stores which are no where near as good as the fresh ones.

    I get my cookies at subway 3 cookies for $1 god their white chocolate chip & macadamia nut cookies are addictive!

  29. Marshfield says:

    Starbucks has been struggling because it’s a luxury item, now Mrs Fields — what say we start a lottery on the next ‘luxury’ business to fall?

    I’m putting Cinnabon on the short list.

  30. MBZ321 says:

    FYI: Mrs. Fields also owns TCBY (frozen yogurt, etc). There hasn’t been one around me for those though..they seemed to have expanded too much in the early-mid 90′s before people started to become real health conscious.

  31. arl84 says:

    @TVarmy: Sieghail das typo fuhrer. GEEZ. Nice save playing the I-did-it-on-purpose card on the que/cue though. Almost believed it.

    Anyway I worked in the mall once upon a time and always went to Mrs Fields for sodas. Their cookies are ok I guess, but they did taste like they were made by a corporation. I’m sure the ones Debbi made in the 70s were better.

    Sucks to see them go, it’s things like this that really make you aware of the problems with the economy.

  32. ShabazOSU says:

    So, what’s the difference between bankruptcy & bittersweet bankruptcy? Cookies? A big fake cheesy smile?

  33. ShortBus says:

    Am I the only one who really dislikes Mrs. Feilds cookies? Always tasted like mass produced crap (like Little Debbie stuff) to me.

  34. GamblesAC2 says:

    awww thats sad

  35. buckinggrimace says:

    @Marshfield: My bet is on Coldstone. They’re already in trouble, and way, way overpriced.

    My secret for great cookies? Lard. Seriously.

  36. YAY! Mrs. Fields, I told you karma was a bitch.

    Your nasty cookies at cheaper prices ran a smaller beloved chain, the Original Cookie Company, out of business.

    And now it’s YOUR turn to file a BK.

    ::insert evil laugh::

  37. @buckinggrimace: Word. Ice cream should not be a production. It’s like the Starbucks of frozen dairy treats.

  38. crazydavythe1st says:

    So where’s the government bailout, huh? I NEED my cookies.

  39. @pixiegirl1: That’s the real problem right there; cookies are not a “specialty” thing, especially not the way Mrs. Fields did them. Any half-assed fast food chain has cookies at 3 for $1. The only unique thing Mrs. Fields did was bake huge cookies and slather them in buttercream icing, which looked gross.

    If they had even expanded into mass-produced cake slices or something, they might have come through, but no one goes “Damn, I need to go to the mall and get me some Mrs. Fields!”.

    Coldstone can die. CPK can die. Krispy Kreme got what it deserved (speaking as someone who lived near one of their new shiny franchises and had to deal with the traffic).

  40. ShadowFalls says:

    Of all the ones on the chopping block next, I expect Tastykake taking a big hit. Less stores are stocking them due to lack of sales. They just cost much more than other brands for the size. Tastykakes are better, but a good majority of consumers do not shop on the “better” factor anymore. Now its about what fits in your budget, and high price snacks are in the budget of most people these days.

  41. crescentia says:

    One of my aunts went to high school with the actual Mrs. Fields. Apparently she was a stuck up snob who was really mean to people. What comes around goes around.

  42. joellevand says:

    Wow, did everyone choke on their Bitter Pill this morning?

    I mean, I don’t shop at Mrs. Fields because I always thought the cookies tasted off, but I don’t think we should gloat over a company going bankrupt considering the implications for the economy.

    Moreover, I really wish all of you Mom & Pop Shops Rock people would get a new habit, cause your cracked-up addiction to the nostalgia of the Mom & Pop Shop (that never was as good as you hype it to have been) is really getting old and as predictable as the “Sue Everyone!” club.

  43. muledoggie says:

    When you guys have a post regarding a bankruptcy, you always make remarks about how the crappy economy took ‘em down. ALWAYS. Cmon guys, it’s like crying wolf! Jeez. Companies fail when their products aren’t wanted anymore. HELLO.

  44. Ayo says:

    I did a case study in college on Mrs. Fields and some of its business choices… And Mrs. Field’s wasn’t that sweet. She’s a very controlling person and was very anti-change. She made some pretty bad decisions along the way, like all of us do, but shes pretty much to blame for the down fall of the biz more than economy. She had no actual business plan for international expansion, and thats pretty much when it went down hill.

    Although I must say, she valued freshness and made the clerks throw cookies away that were an hour old. Waste of product, but I’m sure that didn’t help either.

  45. Gort23 says:

    @crescentia: I used to work for a company that did their point of sale. That was *exactly* the impression of those coworkers that had to deal with her.

  46. chartrule says:

    sounds like the only people to loose anything on this are the “noteholders”

  47. morganlh85 says:

    @Sucko-T: *Clenches chest in agony* So….many….cliches….heart….failing….

  48. MrMold says:

    Wages are low (happy now, Entitled Consumers?), prices are rising, the rational person would eliminate all extraneous costs. So the great unwashed, who had borrowed to continue a working-class lifestyle, are now unable to even cover minor splurges. Feel the cold, harsh winds of cheap labour.

  49. Dustbunny says:

    @ShortBus:

    Nah, you’re not the only one. Her cookies are just too gooey — and I can’t believe I”m saying this — too much melted chocolate in them. I like chocolate, but the cookies are kind of gross.

  50. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @joellevand: Well, if I could nitpick, the “implications” for the economy of a cookie company filing for Chapter 11 are virtually zero, especially since this was a long time coming. A reflection of the current economic situation perhaps, but even if not, I wouldn’t be surprised.

    Has Auntie Anne’s folded yet? And I agree with Coldstone. Overpriced. I can buy plain ice cream, a candy bar, and a sledgehammer and make my own mix-in. Dare I say it, but my local “Mom and pop” ice cream, Ben and Jerry’s, hell even Swensen’s or Friendly’s beats them

  51. Sudonum says:

    @TomCruisesTesticles:
    “I can buy plain ice cream, a candy bar, and a sledgehammer and make my own mix-in.”
    I have visions of a “Gallagher” act type thing. Pretty funny.

  52. Fallom says:

    These cookies are gross, I wouldn’t feed them to a dog. I hope Mrs. Fields eats the hard shaft of failure.

  53. chilled says:

    God,please don’t let cinnabon go under..I dream about em..

  54. MonkeyMonk says:

    Every time I ever bought one of their cookies I always felt a little guilty about how overpriced they were. As a result I never went there anymore. Regardless of how good the cookies are, they were just way too expensive for what you got.

  55. MickeyMoo says:

    @crescentia:
    @ Bishop O’Dowd HS in Oaktown? Did your aunt also tell you how Mrs. Fields got kicked out of said highschool? Interesting story, ask her about it. (ps: if your aunt’s name is Cindy – tell her an old QF bud says howdy)

  56. ChuckECheese says:

    @cmdrsass: I agree with dantsea. Although the price of ingredients is increasing, the food cost of a Mrs. Fields cookie is quite small compared to its $1.50/unit price. Therefore, an increase in flour and butter costs might lead to a small per-cookie increase in prices, but not enough to bankrupt the company. On the other hand, in a $6/hr wage economy, people readily forgo $1.50 cookies when they are feeling financially pinched. Moreover I suspect people aren’t into cookies so much now with people sucking down quarts of soda, eschewing other carbs, and smoking crack.

    @chilled: I’m aware of a couple Cinnabons that have closed in the past year. Uh-oh.

  57. bohemian says:

    I found their cookies to be gross, never went back. They really bombed TCBY pretty bad. We used to have a couple of stand alone stores. The product was good and the stores were clean. At some point they changed and offered TCBY in other stores. There is one in a really nasty Burger King and another in a Little Caesar’s Pizza that also has gas pumps out front. I wouldn’t eat food out of either business ever. So they have no standards in who or where TCBY went.

    I think this one reeks of mismanagement more than the excuse of high commodity prices. High commodity prices might have been the last straw or a convenient excuse.

  58. AmericaTheBrave says:

    “Sweet OLD woman” ???? Debbie Fields is MILF, I say! MILF!

  59. loueloui says:

    @AmericaTheBrave:

    Mmmmm. MILF, and cookies!

    Geez, with all of the corporate bankruptcies lately maybe congress should impose some kind of penalty to their executives like in the personal bankruptcy world. I for one would like to see these poor wittle CEOs take a financial responsibility course, submit to a payment plan, and auction their shit off.

    It seems to me that there’s a great disparity between people of ordinary means, and corporate greedheads. When regular folk run out of money they get run through the wringer. When big corporations run out of money, not only do the primary offenders get off scott free, but the government is standing by to shovel money at them to keep them afloat.

  60. Birki says:

    I also read earlier this week in the WSJ that UNO Pizzeria, Real Mex (owns Chevys restaurants), Perkins and Marie Callenders (owned by same company) and Bakers Square are all in trouble, closing restaurants, trying to line up financing or going into bankrupcy. As mentioned above, Coldstone is in trouble too, not just because of the high price of the ice cream, but the franchisees are hamstrung by mandates that they buy supplies from one supplier at a high cost, excessive couponing and opening stores too close together.

    I can see how Mrs. Fields would be in trouble. Spending over two dollars on a cookie is just not justifiable anymore for many people, and mall traffic is down too.

  61. Justifan says:

    @AmericaTheBrave:

    yup i’d eat her cookie:)

  62. floraposte says:

    @crescentia: What comes around goes around, meaning that anybody who had somebody dislike them in high school is guaranteed to have a business succeed for thirty years?

    I’ve never been a huge fan of the cookies themselves , but you don’t accidentally make a success of a business as similar ones fail alongside you. Businesses don’t last forever, and thirty years is a pretty good run. I’m not convinced that she put hordes of Mom and Pop stores out of business; the very notion of a store that wasn’t really a bakery but just a cookie shop was pretty novel at the time, which is why a number of such started popping up at the same time (David’s, for instance, is another survivor of that boom).

  63. crescentia says:

    @floraposte:

    Meaning that if you are a rude b*i*t*c*h to people it is going to turn around and bite your ass eventually. She doesn’t own the company any longer but I’m betting she isn’t having the greatest of times right now.

  64. Trai_Dep says:

    Easy solution to Debbie’s financial problems, at least in CA: Pot cookies!

  65. scoobydoo says:

    Well WTF… Who could have ever figured out that consumers would be a little hesitant to pay $2 for a damn cookie.

    But of course it isn’t their overpriced crappy cookies, it’s easier to blame material prices…

  66. evixir says:

    Man, this bums me out. I love their cookie cups because I’m a huge fan of their white frosting. I can’t make that stuff at home (unless somebody knows the recipe for their white frosting? please?).

  67. Meathamper says:

    Damn it…I buy too little of them. Wonder what this means in its international stores, and whether or not this means Ben & Jerry’s is fucked.

  68. floraposte says:

    @crescentia: I think that’s more a satisfying thought for classmates who will never make anything near that amount of money than it is reality. This was a successful business, and it lasted well longer than average for a business; nor did it eventually fail because she was mean to people in gym thirty-five years ago.

    Much as it might be satisfying to think that people who weren’t nice to us will get theirs, business failure isn’t a payback for being a mean girl/guy in a previous century, any more than people are getting their homes foreclosed for being jerks at summer camp once.

  69. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    HOLY FUCKSTICKS. Let me explain. My last name is Fields, I’m getting married in October, my fiancee has decided that during desert at the reception, there will be Mrs. Fields cookies on all the tables. This may be what sends her into an emotional depression.

  70. mariospants says:

    Franchising can suck the soul out of any good product or idea, so I’m not too upset to see a company like this go (even though I’ve enjoyed their cookies in the past)… but seriously, what is a Point-of-Purchase cookie company doing racking up hundreds of millions of dollars in debt??? If your profit is counted in pennies on sales that depend on traffic thru malls, you’ve gotta stay lean and hungry.

  71. mariospants says:

    You know, the more I research this, the more I’m glad they’re gone. There’s nothing “homey” or “personal” about their operation and the fact that it’s “run” by a “nice lady” is a farce considering all of the pointy-haired white men who put her company public. The company existed to serve only one means: to make money for the multiple owners and board members. Mabye it used to be about the cookies, but a not anymore.

  72. SigmundTheSeaMonster says:

    @TVarmy: Thanks for the acemart tip. search term is “disher”.

    This whole thing about Mrs. Fields is a joke. Didn’t they exist to make people buy (the smell of chocolate or baking has a side effect ya know…). Effem.

  73. Chroma3000 says:

    I actually work at the Mrs. Fields phone orders division, and I’ve been off for the last like 5 days, so this morning, I get a memo on what to say to customers about this. Can’t say I’m surprised though.

  74. jdjonsson says:

    I like Mrs. Fields cookies, but those Betty Crocker cookie mixes that you just put an egg and a stick of butter in, are pretty dang good, and you can bake a whole batch for the price of a few Mrs. Fields. ;)

  75. you know, the local mall used to have orange julius and hickory farms. now they’ve been replaced with “teen steem” lingerie shops and smart ass coffee kiosks. The world is fuct.

  76. verdantpine says:

    @floraposte: hmmm. Successful entrepreneurs are often type A people, or at least driven, or control freaks, etc. When you are a woman running a business, and have people periodically slight you (not to mention I still deal with customers who automatically assume I’m a man) it’s hard not to have qualms about the “bitch” label. Is she truly an unpleasant person, or is that she plays hardball like a male businessman would?

    Beyond that, I’m also bothered by the implication that we should be happy the business is failing, and all the employees may lose their jobs, because she might have been bratty in high school.