The artisan peanut butter maker BNutty has built up a large and loyal following after selling jars of gourmet peanut butter at markets and shops throughout Northwest Indiana over the last few years.
Now the business, which started out of a rented church kitchen in Valparaiso, is selling flavors like Maple Bacon, S'more Dreams, Joyful Cranberries and Java Energy nationally on Amazon. BNutty, which is short for Beyond Peanut Butter, also invested in a new 2,500-square-foot production facility at 8762 Louisiana Merrillville, where it has a commercial kitchen all its own as well as space for storage and a shipping department.
Owners Joy Thompkins and Lisa Stanford now employ 7 workers, have been filling large orders, and say "the sky is the limit" on future growth. They originally planned to open a retail outlet at the Merrillville location, but now don't want to compete with the nearly 50 stores that carry their products.
BNutty peanut butter is widely sold across Northwest Indiana, at specialty stores and retailers like Charcuterie in Griffith, Beef Mart in Valparaiso, Rocky Mountain Cafe in LaPorte, Peck 'O Peppers in Kouts, and Absolute Nutrition in St. John and Winfield. Their high-protein and gluten-free peanut butters also are sold at a dozen Anytime Fitness gyms throughout Chicagoland.
Stanford and Thompkins are moms with several kids who came up with the idea to make peanut butter while sailing in the Bahamas and wanting something more nutritious than the canned goods on the ship that "may or may not have been expired."
They built a following by taking their peanut butters, which are made with honey roasted peanuts grown in the United States and are sold in 12-ounce jars, to farmers markets throughout Northwest Indiana, including the Chesterton European Market.
Free samples often convinced people, even those who professed to despise peanut butter, to take home one of their 12 flavors.
"People are more ingredient-conscious and we don't add anything to it that would harm you," Thompkins said. "We develop a genuine rapport with customers. They appreciate what we put into it."
The Mission statement on their Facebook page reads: "From the production to the delivery we pride ourselves in making it a family fun business with strong family values."
They constantly experiment with new flavors, and recently came out with pumpkin spice and salted caramel peanut butters.
"We are making our dream a reality," Stanford said.