The Liberty Gazette
October 22, 2013Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: The boll weevils were tearing up crops in the south, and a couple of guys in Louisiana working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture were fed up with their destruction. What if, they wondered, they attacked the pests by dropping insecticide from the air? In a perfect example of American ingenuity, a proud history of working men and women finding answers to problems, the inventive crop-saving solution gave birth to the first aerial crop dusting company: Huff Daland Dusters Incorporated, which formed in Macon, Georgia that year very, 1924.
So while the twenties were roaring, with flappers a-flappin’, farmers caught wind of the new idea and within a year Huff Daland became the largest privately owned fleet in the world, with 18 airplanes.
One of those two guys from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Collett E. Woolman, helped the company grow, winning contracts for crop dusting and passenger service. The company had relocated its headquarters to his home town of Monroe, Louisiana, and with all his hard work and dedication soon Woolman was able to buy Huff Daland.
But as Woolman knew, fields have boll weevils and roses have thorns. Thanks to that pesky air mail scandal involving the government (a shock, I know), the airline C. E. Woolman built from the ground up didn’t win the mail route contract they had hoped for in 1930, causing them to suspend the passenger service they had started.
Four years later (after some government house cleaning) the little airline that could was awarded the contract for Route 33, Dallas to Charleston, by way of Atlanta.
But half-way through that four-year battle for survival, which nearly put the company out of business, half-way around the world, in Belgium, the Boone brothers opened a bakery – and this is where the story gets tasty.
Mike: The popularity of their cookie, er, their European biscuit, delivered to customers from a red truck, exploded faster than a bucket full of yeast in a warm pan.
Wildly successful in their homeland, the Boone brothers’ caramelized biscuit was easily paired with coffee, eventually becoming the number one choice of Europeans, each decade seeing greater notoriety for the treat than the last.
52 years after delivering the baked delights from their little red truck, the Boone brothers’ cookies flew into the U.S., landing aboard the company that had once made its home in Monroe, Louisiana, in the Mississippi Delta – that pioneer crop duster that became Delta Air Lines.
If you ride on Delta today you will be offered the Boone brothers’ specialty, "Biscoff" (biscuit+coffee) cookies, but you don’t have to take a flight to enjoy this delectable snack. Biscoff cookies and their newer product, a spread made of the same ingredients, are sold in many major retail stores throughout the country, and online.
The recipe hasn’t changed since the beginning of the cookie and the company, still in the same family, now employs more than 1,200 people in several European countries.
But if you do decide to fly, the cookies offered on Delta are about 50% larger and have the word DELTA impressed on one side. They say that more than 1.5 billion Biscoff cookies "have been sampled by happy, tired, excited, adventurous, grateful, and, of course, hungry airline passengers." I’ll put the coffee on.