Tag Archives: kingston

CB’s Nuts in Kingston grinding and growing

Peanut butter making at CB's Nuts in Kingston
Photos by Meegan M. Reid, Kitsap Sun

KINGSTON — If people had told Tami Bowen a dozen years ago that she could make a living selling peanuts, she’d have told them they were crazy.

Crazier still might have been the notion that not only could she make living but be on the verge of greatly expanding a nut business.

That was before Tami met Clark Bowen, the CB in CB’s Nuts.

It was 2003 and Clark was both running a family outdoor advertising business and selling roasted peanuts from a tent on Occidental Avenue in front of Qwest Field.

He’d been hooked on peanuts since munching on them during Mariners games, and decided to make a business out of them after falling in love with a bag of fresh-roasted North Carolina peanuts at Camden Yards in Baltimore. From there, he traveled through the South and convinced family peanut businesses to share close-held information.

Tami described her husband as a student, intense in his research.

“If I get interested in something, I’m going for it,” Clark said.

Clark Bowen fills the hopper with peanuts to be ground into peanut butter.

After they married, they prepared the nuts together in a roaster that screamed like a jet engine from a steel outbuilding at a friend’s house in Kingston. When neighbors couldn’t take it anymore, they moved the operation to their own home in Hansville.

By then, they were working with several grocery stores. Clark would go out and sell nuts and Tami would take care of deliveries in between their first child’s naps.

As sales grew, Clark sold off the sign business and in 2007 they bought a 1,000 square-foot building off Highway 104.

There, they expanded to other nuts and offered shelled nuts to stores with grinders for peanut butter.

Along the way, they developed a relationship with Whole Foods, which got them buying organic peanuts from New Mexico.

After a distributer accidentally delivered 10,000 pounds of shelled nuts, they found themselves in the peanut butter business too.

Much of the early peanut butter work was done in small batches with a lot of hand work.

Protective wraps of plastic on the peanut butter jars were shrunk with a hair dryer and labels were pasted on by hand.

Clark at first utilized an old Hobart industrial baking mixer to rub off the papery skin from the nuts. Batches were then shaken by hand on a screen to let the skins fall out.

Eventually, Clark got a lead on an old industrial skinner form the South that he had rebuilt and shipped to Kingston.
To make the butter, peanuts were ground in small batches in a grinder about the size of a microwave with a two-inch in diameter grinding wheel.

“It’s been really fun to figure out how to grow within our means,” Tami said. As one part of the business grows, they’ve built up around it.

The peanut butter has been selling well as customers grow comfortable with a fresh product with a suggested four-month shelf-life.

Add to that a growing desire for fresher and locally produced foods, and the company hit its peanut butter processing limit.

They applied for a business loan to buy a larger grinder, but were turned down.

That’s when Whole Foods suggested they apply for one of its local producer loans.

Still smarting from the costs involved with the other loan and the current state of the economy, “I thought maybe we shouldn’t do it at all,” Tami said.

But apply they did, and in mid-April they had their new, refurbished grinder up and running.

“This will really allow us to expand,” Clark said.

At full capacity, the machine, which has an 18-inch girding wheel, can process 16,000 pounds of nuts an hour, 20 times the peanut butter they were making before.

“It’ll take us awhile to get to full production,” Tami said.

Peanuts don’t grow overnight.

Clark will soon set out to visit their peanut growing partners in to see how much more they can supply CB’s going into 2012.

For now, they’re adjusting the grinder, seeing how much production they can manage. One of them goes in early in the morning, the other joins in the work in the afternoon.

“I consider this (business) the third kid … something we’ve grown from an idea,” Tami said.
And they’re planning for July, when they’ll take their first vacation in four years.

Kingston Nuts Seem to Be Everywhere

This year, it seemed like I was seeing Kingston-based CB’s Nuts in all sorts of places. I saw them selling  at Pyramid before a Mariner’s game in Seattle, at a few grocery stores, in a recent Seattle Times article and now, apparently, they’ll appear in a Seattle foodie delight: Theo Chocolates. Both Theo’s and CB’s retails stores will carry a new line of chocolates with CB’s peanut butter Butter Big Daddy, Peanut Butter Buddies and two flavors of Theo Confections: peanut butter and peanut butter and jelly.

I think this means I should tour their factory … and purchase some taste tests.

A Sweet, Chocolatey Diversion

Sweet, sweet chocolate.

So, it’s not Thanksgiving, but it may be a good way to indulge after the stress. Or think of it as an early local gift idea.

A while back one of the Sun reporters wrote a story about 17-year-old Peter Crabtree of Kingston being named a nationally recognized entrepreneur for starting a chocolaterie, CBC Chocolates.

Videographer Mike Barnet of NuAmericas checked in with Peter recently and offered an inside look at the chocolate shop. The kid uses local ingredients, including … Continue reading