By Amanda M. Socci
ALEXANDRIA, VA — The Old Town Shop recently reminded us it was “NATIONAL PEANUT MONTH!” in an Instagram post picturing stacks of beautifully canned Virginia peanuts front and center in their beautiful store at 105 S. Union Street.
On the day we went to visit The Old Town Shop, owner Valerie Ianieri was there along with store manager, Diane Bird, and both were happy to talk more about the peanuts they sell.
Selling Hubs Peanuts and Crab House Nuts
The Old Town Shop sells Hubs peanuts made by Hubbard Peanut Company and varieties of Crab House nuts made by Blue Crab Bay Co. Ianieri recounted a story of going to a resort in West Virginia and being introduced to Hubs peanuts for the first time, “I couldn’t get enough of Hubs peanuts and knew I wanted to sell them [at The Old Town Shop],” she gushed.
In describing the quality of Hubs peanuts, Ianieri stated “they are larger. It’s the way they roast them. The fertile Virginia soil makes it easier to grow the peanuts.”
When asked what the difference was between Hubs peanuts and the peanuts typically found at supermarkets, including Planters and generic brand peanuts, Ianieri and store manager Diane Bird unanimously and enthusiastically declared Hubs peanuts to be the better-quality nut. “Hubs nuts are not oily. They have a crunch. Some are lightly salted, some are honey roasted,” explained Bird. Ianieri explained a tip given to her by a customer: “put the nuts in the freezer – – the crunch will be better.”
Ianieri also encouraged Zebra to reach out directly to The Hubbard Peanut Company in Sedley, Virginia where we met Marshall Rabil, Hubbard’s Director of Sales and Marketing, who explained that Hubs peanuts is a family business started by his grandparents, Dot and HJ. Rabil remembers hearing about Dot picking the largest peanuts from her father’s farm.
Dot had a desire to cook the peanuts and sell them, but this was in the 1950’s in the era of black-and-white television sets and no computers. Times were difficult, but Dot was motivated. With one child in tow and two on the way, she used her simple home fryer to cook the peanuts with a “water blanching process and fried them in oil” which is very different than the typical dry-roast method found in other peanuts, as per Rabil.
Rabil notes that after his grandmother Dot pioneered the revolutionary new way of cooking peanuts, the Hubbard Peanut Company took off and continues using the original recipe today.
No matter how you celebrate National Peanut Month, we sincerely hope you will hold your imaginary glass of drink in the air and toast The Old Town Shop for celebrating TWO YEARS of selling nuts and other wonderful Old Town products on March 31, 2019!
Upcoming Virginia Peanut Celebrations
Several southern cities commemorate peanuts with exclusive community celebrations. The 42nd annual Suffolk Peanut Fest, October 10 – October 13, 2019, is at the Suffolk Executive Airport in Suffolk, Virginia. Visit their website for more information: http://www.suffolkpeanutfest.com.
The 57th annual Virginia Peanut Festival sponsored by the Emporia-Greensville Chamber of Commerce
Is scheduled to take place from September 26 – September 29, 2019 in Emporia, Virginia. Visit their website for more information: http://www.emporiagreensvillechamber.com/virginia-peanut-festival.