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Prosperous Peanuts


One Oklahoma family’s nutty idea proves to be a successful adventure By Emilia Buchanan


T


rays of freshly cooked peanuts are stacked high against the wall. A mother and daughter team are work- ing away, trying to fi ll this week’s orders. Mom and designated peanut cook, Jan Slampa, is oil roasting the peanuts with a deep fryer in the far corner of the room. On the other side of the room, daughter Steph- anie Snider is mixing up a fresh batch of her mom’s favorite peanuts, Honey Sweet. Between them stand two large worksta- tions, right next to several racks piled high with orders—including bags of peanuts, jars of peanut butter and a new product devel- oped for the Gourmet Gallery in Edmond, fl avored pretzels. Snider Farms Peanut Barn was started by Snider—whose husband of 32 years, Jamie, raised peanuts his entire life. Snider was inspired by a small business in Gorman, Texas, called the Peanut Hut. The owners of the Peanut Hut taught Snider and her mom, the muscles behind the Peanut Barn opera- tion, everything they know about cooking peanuts. They also gave them their fi rst peanut fryer. “We started out with a little fryer that had


two little baskets,” Snider says. “It was two or three years before we bought the big one we use now. We are a lot faster now than we used to be.” The Peanut Barn processes approximately


1,320 pounds of peanuts every month for their fl avored peanuts, candies and peanut butter. Most of their products are sold wholesale with just a few orders made through their website. “Yeah, we do a bunch,” Slampa says. “It depends on the time of year; but during the holidays, I think we do at least 25 cases of just the peanut butter in a month.” Each case holds 12, 16-ounce jars of pea- nut butter. These cases are then distributed to customers across Oklahoma, and to some customers as far as California, New York and overseas. “It takes about 45 minutes to process 110 pounds of peanuts,” Slampa continues. “We start with the raw peanuts. We cook them— oil roasted. Really, it’s just frying them in peanut oil. I don’t know why they call it oil roasting. We let them cool, and then we mix them with a little salt.”


When making small batches, the peanuts are mixed with salt by hand. But with the big batches, the pair uses a larger and rather fancy contraption.


“It’s just a little cement mixer,” Snider chuckles. “We got the idea from Larry Scott from Scott Farms in Altus. It has been really helpful.”


The room where the pair works their magic is the Peanut Barn. It’s a small, barn-shaped shed with a gift shop in the front and a work area in the back. Next door is another small shed used for storing supplies. The aroma of peanuts surrounds the building and can be inhaled from the Sniders’ front yard. The family-owned- and-operated business, which opened in May 2006, is located on the Sniders’ prop- erty on a dirt road northeast of Hollis. Slampa lives just down the road. “Steph thinks I come to help with the peanuts, but really, I just come to play with grandkids,” Slampa jokes. “Seriously, cooking peanuts is the main thing I do, but I generally help with whatever needs to be done.”


While Snider and Slampa are busy cooking and mixing, Snider’s only daugh- ter—one of fi ve children—makes a visit to the Barn and tries her hand at mixing the Honey Sweet. Snider, who homeschools her kids, is grateful to be able to work at her home where she can be around her children through the days. “Right now, we can do this and I still


have time to homeschool,” Snider says. “We also have a cattle and hay business. I can go help with that and still keep up with everything we need to do here. The peanut business is part of our whole operation and way of life. When we get too busy, the kids don‘t mind coming out to help. And during our busy season, every- one comes out to help—my husband, my kids, my dad, and my mother- and father- in-law.”


The Harmon Electric Cooperative mem- bers—who sell their products at farmers’ markets, mom and pop stores, small bou- tiques and through the Oklahoma Food Cooperative—have become well-known for their peanut butter and fl avored peanuts. “We have 12 fl avors of peanuts, in addi- tion to our peanut brittle, chocolate clus- ters and peanut butter cups,” Snider says. When coming up with a new fl avor or product, Snider starts out having the rest of the family taste it, and they go from there. And many times, new fl avors are inspired by current customers. “We just started doing the fl avored pret- zels,” Snider says. “We use the same fl avors


Continued on Page 16


Left: Stephanie Snider spreads Honey Sweet peanuts on trays to cool.


Photo by Emilia Buchanan


Snider Farms products can be found at:


✓ Clinic Pharmacy, Hollis ✓ Gourmet Gallery, Edmond ✓ Holder Brothers Beef, Altus ✓ Hudson Equipment, Hollis ✓ Laughing Tomato, Norman ✓ Mangum Star Emporium, Mangum ✓ OSU-OKC Farmersʼ Market, Oklahoma City ✓ Prairie Gypsies, Oklahoma City ✓ www.oklahomafood.coop


DECEMBER 2012 15


Hollis


Sinder’s popular peanut concoctions make for great gifts.


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