The Wenoka Brand
Wenoka is the trade name derived from an abbreviation of Wenatchee and Okanogan, two important apple-producing districts encompassing the north central Washington State region that extends from the Canadian border to just south of the city of Wenatchee. This fruit-producing region developed marginally later than other areas of the state, but once started, production grew rapidly.
Although one can never be absolutely sure when the "first" fruit tree was planted in any specific area of the Pacific Northwest, it is generally accepted that 1859 is the year the first apple trees appeared in the Okanogan—the area north of the Wenatchee Valley, which saw its first such trees in 1872. These orchards, however, were primarily intended to serve the local rancher; thus, the first truly commercial orchard in this region of Washington State was planted over a decade later, in 1884.
The arrival of the Great Northern Railway into the Wenatchee Valley in 1892 encouraged additional commercial orchard development. Even though overall production was small because the first irrigation systems were modest in scale, the ranchers then had a dependable shipping means and could market their fruit over a wider area. The completion of the Highline Canal in 1904 accelerated the development of commercial orchards, and 9,000 acres rapidly went into fruit production, beginning an outstandingly successful history of fruit production in north central Washington.
The brand name Wenoka is owned by the Wenatchee-Okanogan Cooperative Federation, a group that, at its peak, included over 600 orchardists and 15 individual shipping units working together in the production, packing, marketing, and shipping of their fruit. Although an obviously powerful cooperative, the federation was not immune from the effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s, and for a two-year period,
1936-1938, Wenoka participated in the short-lived Pacific Northwest Fruits, Inc., sales organization in an attempt to increase sales and get better prices. Pacific Northwest Fruits, which used the Doc Apple logo, brought together four large regional cooperatives—the Big Y in Yakima, Diamond Growers in Hood River, Skookum in Wenatchee, and Wenoka. Although the group broke apart by the late 1930s, it was an interesting attempt to answer the demand for an adequate supply of high-quality apples and pool resources for a well-planned advertising and merchandising campaign.
Originally, the Wenoka logo was a yellow shield surrounding a red rosette and the lettering Wenatchee-Okanogan Cooperative Federation. The shield soon evolved into the more well-known and longer-lasting arrowhead-shaped emblem. The C grade label that is entitled Rite Grade Apples is one of the most inforative of all apple labels as it includes a map of north central Washington depicting the actual territory of the federation members. All of the Wenoka labels are especially colorful and often feature such wonderful images as that of Red Bird or Boy Blue.