Its logo has been introduced on the shelves of thirty-nine states, including Alaska. Upwards of forty retailers sell it in North Carolina alone. Yet despite Big Spoon Roasters’ amassed success, its batches are still made with the same fresh ingredients and packaged by hand in a modest Durham warehouse.
“I would rather discontinue a product than sacrifice the quality of its ingredients,” explains Big Spoon founder Mark Overbay.
A Tennessee native, Mark recalls days spent out in the garden picking fruits and veggies with his large Southern family. Therein arose an interest in the intersection of food, land and culture – one that intensified during a Peace Corps service trip to Zimbabwe where Mark watched natives use stones to crush fresh-grown peanuts into nut butter, adding only honest, salt and coconut oil for taste.
Mark aimed to bring these bold flavors back home and has been crafting his own nut butter for the past four years. He started out roasting in Loaf bakery during the week and selling at the Carrboro farmers market on Saturdays. His butters quickly garnered notoriety and, within a year, big names like Bon Appétit and Food & Wine were sharing Mark’s story.
“We’ve been so lucky with the press. I definitely don’t take that for granted and it’s really what put us on the radar of specialty retailers,” he says.
Big Spoon has lived up to the praise. Demand for the product continues to skyrocket – between January and February of this year, sales increased by 80 percent. From major retailers to homeowners shopping online, it seems as though everyone wants a spoonful of the made-to-order nut butter revolution.
Despite daunting order volumes, Big Spoon batches continue to be hand packaged by the company’s three employees. Their ingredients pay homage to sustainable growing practices across the world. Local North Carolina peanuts are roasted alongside organic Texas pecans and almonds from a progressive California co-op. The ginger almond blend uses ginger and crystalized sugarcane that was grown across small farms in Fiji. Mark continues to harbor close relationships with his vendors – placing new orders so frequently that Big Spoon’s tiny fridge is rendered practically unnecessary.
Sustainability transcends beyond Big Spoon’s ingredient lists. The company’s employees strive for zero waste, opting to repurpose old shipping materials as product labels and use compressed air to cap jars.
Mark continues to search for new flavor combinations to add to his lineup of eleven nutty varieties. Don’t ask him to play favorites, though.
“My favorite nut butter is the one I’m eating,” he smiles.