By David A. Porat
Chelsea Market Baskets over the last eighteen years has constantly evolved, and we pride ourselves on exciting new products to experience and taste. An interesting chapter in this is the story of our Bacon Peanuts or what we cheekily call CMB Goin’ Nuts.
It started in September 2009, when two people from the Red Head Restaurant in the East Village appeared in the store with their Bacon Peanut Brittle that was written about shortly before by Frank Bruni in The New York Times Review. The end of the review included the words… “and that brittle, well, it goes a long, long way. It was there almost from the start, and my bet is that it will be there until the end.” Having two representatives from Redhead appearing soon after I read those words, I said sure, we will take it—bring some tomorrow and demo it in the store.
It did strike a cord and was a success from the beginning, the familiar American flavors of peanuts, bacon and maple syrup create a synergy both from a “point of sale” appeal and the taste that works. Not to mention a NYC identity that, in this case, is refreshingly not Brooklyn. The Red Head Bacon Peanut Brittle went on to become a best seller or in our top ten items in the store sales each week. We included the product in gift baskets, sold it on our website, and tried to keep a basket full of product in the store. Sometimes the product was not easy to get and would take a good amount of lead time to get.
Last November, we placed our fall order for a few thousand units and late in November we got an email saying that the product is no longer available for wholesale. The same day I got an email from a Brooklyn company saying if we had extra she could use some in her mail order business. Ok what do you do now… as an entrepreneur and someone who could “turn things around quickly”—you make your own.
I worked with my friend Paul Neuman, who owns Neuman’s Kitchen, to create a similar product but different that we call Bacon Peanuts and added the tag line “an urban snack that transports you to the countryside.” We then substituted our own product for the unavailable Redhead product. Our version is a different, and maybe not as much a brittle as a spiced nut mixture that includes a spicy-smoky-sweet flavor made with maple syrup.
To our surprise, wholesale customers have continued to ask for the product, going out of their way to say “can you add some of those peanuts to our European specialty food orders.” We are getting ready to go into the Fancy Food Show and we will be offering Bacon Peanuts as an “add on” to our regular assortment.
This product is surprisingly easy to sell. In fact a large upscale American Company has pursued us to sell it to them. But they are keen to work at a very healthy margin which is not easy to arrive at as a smaller “manufacturer” using what is called a co-packer. Hence, we’re not ready for mass distribution but that may not be a bad thing because we are dedicated to real specialty food, rich with ingredients and a story, but not fat enough for a big margin.
WestView Readers, Come by and mention this article and get a bag for $3.00, one per customer. Let us know what you think!