Social consciousness is one trend we’re currently loving in food – and it’s something Barb Kobren knows all about. In 2009, Barb launched gourmet snack company BobbySue’s Nuts with a friend and fellow SPCA of Westchester board member. “We started thinking about doing something other than a once-a-year fundraiser” to benefit the SPCA, recalls Barb. “We said, why don’t we make nuts and sell them?”
Originally sold in three varieties – sweet-and-savory Original, spicy Some Like It Hot, and chocolate-covered It’s Raining Chocolate – BobbySue’s Nuts found its niche in small cheese shops and specialty markets, as well as at Empire City Casino in Yonkers. The nuts made their way into the guest room at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the Legends Suites at Yankee Stadium. Then came the biggest break yet.
The “It’s Raining Chocolate” Variety.
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“I went to a trade show in California and gave samples to a woman who took them home to her husband,” says Adam Kobren, Barb’s son who joined the business full-time in 2011. Turns out, her husband worked at FOODMatch, a major importer of Mediterranean foods and olives, and was interested in collaborating on a new flavor. After a year of back and forth, the two companies released Nuts Over Olives, a blend of Mediterranean spiced almonds, cashews, and pecans (these three nuts feature in all of BobbySue’s flavors) with dried black and green olives in 2015. Two additional flavors – Parmesan-laced Parm to Table and everything-bagel-spiced Everything Goes Nuts –soon followed.
Now available in Whole Foods nationwide, the once-small company works hard to keep standards high. Every flavor starts with the highest grade whole nuts and egg whites from humanely raised (of course) California chickens. “As we’ve grown to a bigger scale, we’ve sacrificed margins” to keep the quality the same, says Adam. “As we released Nuts Over Olives we also did a big rebrand. We are now Kosher and non-GMO certified. We were always gluten-free. Now we think the packaging matches the quality of what’s inside.”
It looks like the Kobrens were right not to sacrifice quality. This year, BobbySue’s Nuts won two SOFI awards (Adam describes it as “the Oscars of the specialty food industry) including a gold medal for Everything Goes Nuts against more than 200 other entries. “It’s really a testament to my mom’s passion,” says Adam. “It’s a love for animal welfare, for food, and for people.” Speaking of animal welfare, BobbySue’s has donated nearly $50,000 to SPCA of Westchester since 2009, and it’s something that remains a priority. To every company she pitches, Barb promises one thing: “If every product on the shelf chose some cause to give back to, we’d have a better world.”
For more information or to purchase BobbySue’s Nuts online, visit www.bobbysuesnuts.com.