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She started selling caramel apples following a traumatic brain injury and now owns a thriving business

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Janna Herron, center, with her husband and four kids last summer. | Courtesy Janna Herron

Editor’s note: This story contains images of blood and a graphic injury. Reader discretion is advised.

POCATELLO – A local woman who overcame great physical challenges has opened a popular caramel apple shop in Pocatello.

“It’s amazing to me how people have just supported this little family-run business,” Janna Herron says of Caramel Apple Cottage. “We sell out every Saturday, and it’s just awesome.”

Janna Herron opened the shack at 1580 Yellowstone Ave. across from Costco on May 9. It opens at 11 a.m. every Saturday and offers a variety of 16 different flavors made fresh year round, with some seasonal flavors. Apple pie and caramel cashew are bestsellers.

Herron offers a variety of other treats as well, including caramel pretzel logs, pecan turtles, cashew caramel bear claws, caramel popcorn, wrapped caramels and cake pops.

But owning a caramel apple shop was never Herron’s plan.

‘You have a hole in your head’

For 15 years, Herron was living the life she wanted doing maintenance and landscaping for the Pocatello Regional Airport.

Everything changed on March 24, 2018.

Herron suffered a traumatic brain injury in a four-wheeler accident while spraying weeds on the Fort Hall Indian reservation.

“I started loading up, and the spray on the back shifted the tank, and it came loose,” she says. “As I got up to the top of the truck, the four-wheeler tipped up and came down straight on me.”

Somehow, she was able to get the four-wheeler off of her, get her phone and call for help.

It was dark by the time her friends showed up. As they arrived at the hospital, her friend looked at her and said, “You have a hole in your head.”

Herron in the hospital shortly after her injury. | Courtesy Janna Herron

Herron before and after surgery | Courtesy Janna Herron

After surgery, it would be another four and a half months before Herron could function normally again.

“Something in my brain stopped functioning,” Herron says. “I developed a stutter, and it got to the point where it was just too much work to even communicate. I stopped talking because it was really difficult.”

She sat alone in the dark inside her bedroom because she experienced migraine headaches, and any exposure to light was painful, she says. She also had to walk with a cane because her balance was off.

‘This is my life, and it’s awesome’

After a lengthy hospital stay, returning to her old job was not an option and she and her husband were looking for a way to earn some extra money. Herron has access to a huge orchard owned by her parents. She decided to give caramel apples a try and started selling them at the Goodbye Hello Craft Fair in Pocatello in October 2018.

“It was amazing. We hauled our apples up there, and we sold out,” says Herron.

For the next 18 months, she made the rounds at local craft fairs with rousing success. When the COVID-19 shutdown occurred, she continued to sell caramel apples out of her home. Business was steady, and she decided it was time to open a storefront.

“The shack (which was formerly Little Piggies Snow Cone Shack) had been sitting there (for several years) so we purchased it, sanded it, repainted it, did a bunch of work to it and turned it into the Caramel Apple Cottage,” Herron says.

Today, Herron is fully recovered and has regained her normal speaking ability. She says she’s lucky to be alive and there isn’t a day that goes by that her 14-year-old daughter doesn’t hug her before leaving the house.

“That was the one day she didn’t give me a hug, and she never wants that to happen again,” says Herron.

Though her lifestyle is now completely different, Herron says she’s loving every minute of it.

“I love what I do,” Herron says. “I’m home with my kids. It gives me a chance to meet different people. I love being able to meet total strangers, and I know people I never would’ve known if I hadn’t done this. I just have to pinch myself and say ‘This is my life, and it’s awesome.'”

Herron typically posts on Facebook when she opens on Saturday so that people who haven’t tried her products can come before it’s all gone. The business also does special orders for weddings and other events. Visit the Woodland Orchard Facebook page for more information or call (208) 681-9201.

Courtesy Janna Herron
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