Peanut Butter Business Booming In Overton
The Tyler Morning Telegraph
Staff Photo By Jaime R. Carrero
Carrie and Keith Parsons, owners of the Peanut
Butter Emporium, pose in front of a mural of “Nutty,” the
business’ mascot, that they painted themselves. Their Honey
Roasted Crunch peanut butter was chosen by “Everyday With
Rachael Ray” as “Best Honey” peanut butter.
By KELLY PREW
OVERTON -- Nothing beats a good, old fashioned peanut butter
sandwich -- give or take the jelly.
That's what Carrie and Keith Parsons believe. The couple owns
the Peanut Butter Emporium, a small town business now
garnering attention from a major national magazine for the
gourmet peanut butter milled and sold there.
"Everyday With Rachel Ray" named Nutty's Old Fashioned Peanut
Butter, Honey Roasted Crunch the "Best Honey" variety
nationally in the September issue.
"I just figured, you know, 'thanks for inviting us,'" Carrie
says during a recent interview at the shop. "I never thought
we would actually win anything."
The award was won honestly. The Parsons simply got a phone
call one day from the magazine asking for a case of their
different flavors of peanut butter (now there are 12). They've
speculated about how their small company caught the attention
of the magazine.
"If brittle and peanut butter had a child, this 'sweet, nutty'
concoction would be it," magazine writer Dina Cheney raves.
"With a 'crystallized sugar' texture, Nutty's 'tastes like
honey roasted peanuts.' It would even make a great candied
topping for ice cream.'"
The nostalgic Peanut Butter Emporium in Overton. Maybe it was
the jar given to President George W. Bush by a local
Make-A-Wish child that made its way to food editors. Maybe it
was a jar sold at Galveston's Peanut Butter Factory. Maybe it
was one of the gift baskets sent to a soldier in Iraq. There's
just no way to know.
Nutty's Old Fashioned Peanut Butter now joins the ranks of
Jif, Skippy and Smuckers, also awarded in the article.
"We think we've got a niche market, at least for now," Carrie
says. We consider our peanut butter fresh product, meaning
it's only ever about eight weeks old at most.
"We also consider ourselves the fun side of peanut butter. We
do make a sugar free, salt free peanut butter on request, but
we like the sugar and the flavorings."
And, apparently, so do a lot of other people.
In six years, the small shop set up to serve a few peanut
butter sandwiches during lunch in a small East Texas town, has
grown to include a full menu all day. Peanut butter milled
there travels to all corners of the country, thanks to the
Internet and now, national magazines.
Gift baskets begin lining the store shelves before
Thanksgiving, complete with jars of award-winning Honey
Roasted Crunch and favorites like White Chocolate Chip, Peanut
Butter Cup, Cinnamon Raisin and Chocolate Marble, to name a
few. Orders also are taken online.
Stop in for peanut butter pie, cookies, Blue Bell ice cream or
It's a place that welcomes customers with warm smiles and
"how's it going today?" and mural of "Nutty," the official
brand mascot, waves to folks from the corner.
Come lunchtime, finding a seat at one of the red and white
checked tables can be a challenge on a busy day, but that's
when the real beauty of the place comes alive.
Kiddos from the small school district walk downtown for an
off-campus lunch, often lining the curbsides out front, eating
peanut butter sandwiches and enjoying a little time away from
class. Older customers, bikers passing through and regulars
who walk over from the bank, the veterinarian's office or the
hardware store step into a familiar rhythm there, too.
Favorites on the menu, in addition to peanut butter sandwiches
of all shapes and sizes, are chicken salad sandwiches, Texas
Sized Spuds or even a fresh fruit plate.
And when teachers and business people can't make it out for
lunch, the emporium delivers. The Parsons deliver to eight
surrounding school districts every day of the week, and the
service keeps growing.
"No pun intended, its nuts on Fridays," Carrie laughs.
Taking into account the atmosphere of small town America, the
emporium appeals to guests much like Mama's kitchen might.
The decision to open the shop in Overton was simple: it was
affordable, quaint and a perfect place to raise their son. It
didn't hurt that the building, built in the 1930s, added to
the charm of the whole idea.
"We started in a little shop next door, and I think we had
three non-peanut butter items on the menu," Carrie says.
"One thing we did think about was maybe to spur growth in the
downtown, maybe help revitalization efforts," adds Keith, who
was once mayor here.
Keith says the ability to supplement with salads, sandwiches
and other non-peanut butter items has allowed the peanut
butter business to take off.
"It's hard to have a specialty business in a small town,"
Keith says matter-of-factly. "That's kind of how it evolved.
We added other things as an alternative for people who didn't
want peanut butter. It's having the local restaurant that gave
us the longevity to work on peanut butter.
"Obviously, peanut butter is her passion," he says adoringly
Together, they admit burning up three blenders in one day of
experimenting once they decided to live her life-long dream.
"It was just trial and error and trial and error, and taste,"
Keith says with a grin.
Area schools and churches often bring students in for a tour
of the peanut butter exhibit, featuring a history lesson and a
few invaluable pieces of nostalgia on display.
The Peanut Butter Emporium will cater meetings and parties and
always welcomes groups to stop in for lunch or dinner.