Pity the lowly Beer Nuts, once the darlings of Super Bowl parties. Pistachios boldly shelled the football classic this year in an ad featuring South Korean rapper PSY singing “Crackin’ Gangnam Style” and stomping amid a group of dancing green nuts.
With Maine’s penchant for originality, several local nut companies have sprouted up, concocting unique toppings like Habanero Heat pistachios, Bodacious Banana Bread walnuts and Chambord n Cocoa macadamias. That emerging boutique nut market isn’t just for gourmands chasing new tastes; the nut sellers tout their snacks’ health benefits, such as being a source of protein and antioxidants.
“People are looking for a healthy snack without sacrificing flavor,” says John Powers, founder of The Gilded Nut Snack Co., who uses the title “head nut.” He says nuts contain fiber, protein, potassium and antioxidants. The new Portland-based company, incorporated in Maine in 2013 but started in California in 2012, distributes pistachios it buys and flavor-coats in California.
Davy Pruzansky, owner of Living Nutz in Bowdoinham, takes it a level further by offering raw coated nuts certified as organic by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.