Steeped in a delightfully salty history, Alabama Peanut Co. is one of America’s last surviving peanut merchants. Headquartered since 1907 in Birmingham, Alabama, the company has lived on historic Morris Avenue in a charming brick building coined the “Peanut House.” Daily, they roast fresh peanuts in antique roasters sending a tangy, spirited aroma down the beloved cobblestone-lined street. And, even if you don’t call Birmingham home, you can get a taste of this delicacy from SB Shop.
The company’s cast-iron roasters have been used in their building for more than a century. These barrel roasters are the star of the show and the culprit behind the flavor that Jaime Thursby, owner of Alabama Peanut Co., says, “lures folks in off the street.” Each morning, his team turns on the roasters, scoops in farm-fresh peanuts, adjusts the flame, and lets the roaster work its magic. “The art in roasting a peanut is to time it out just right as they continue to cook once dumped out of the roaster. To get our perfect lightly browned, toasted peanut, we have inherited traditional techniques combined with years of experience,” says Jaime.
Throughout Alabama Peanut Company’s storied past, there have been many owners, and a few years ago, the business almost closed for good. Luckily, Jaime took over and introduced craft flavors to the shop. “We pioneered the comeback of the boiled peanut, introducing it to a generation of snackers. It was important for us to carry on the legacy of this quintessential Southern snack. And who doesn’t love a good comeback story?” Jaime asks. Since then, they’ve created over 100 finger-licking flavors from house-made recipes.
A few of Alabama Peanut Company’s most popular craft flavors are Cajun Roasted and of course, Classic Salt Roasted and Original Roasted. More daring flavors include Salty Dill Pickle Boiled, which “packs a pickle-y punch;” Florida Rest Stop, which offers a citrus heat ideal for summer; and Old Bay & PBR, which combines three American favorites: Pabst Blue Ribbon, Old Bay Seasoning, and roasted peanuts into one to-die-for snack. One of Jaime’s favorites is the Alabama Cajun. “It’s such a complex blend of spices that takes your palate straight down I-65 to the Gulf Coast. It’s an easygoing spice level that can be heightened if you snack on the jalapeños mixed in,” he says.
SB Shop is thrilled to carry 3-bag, 6-bag, and 9-bag bundles ($18 to $54) in your choice of Original Hot Roasted, Cajun Roasted, Salt Roasted, or a mix of them all. Additionally, SB Shop offers a Salty & Southern Gift Set ($25) that includes three 1-pound bags of the famous peanuts in your choice of flavor (Hot Roasted, Cajun Roasted, or Salt Roasted) and a commemorative burlap bag screen-printed in Birmingham.
For those looking to boil peanuts at home, the BYOP Kit ($20) includes two pounds of raw peanuts in the classic salt flavor ready for you to boil. Both the Salty & Southern Gift Set and BYOP Kit are unexpected, yet excellent ways to spread some classic Southern love.
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Of course, we had to ask Jaime what about the South inspires him, to which he answered with a George Washington Carver quote: “When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” Jaime says, “We have been so inspired by his innovation and attention to the tiniest of legumes, the peanut, and are eternally grateful for the ways this Southern legend has influenced science, technology, and yes, snacking, all through the humble peanut.”
Alabama Peanut Co. speaks to so much of what we love about the South. They have a commitment to preserving a worthwhile tradition, they create snacks with flavor that brings forth nostalgic, sunny memories, meant to be enjoyed in community, and they lean into hard work with a sprinkle of grit … what’s more Southern than that?
All photos courtesy of Alabama Peanut Company.