Peanutty Goodness

by Jennifer Barnett Fox
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Peanut Butter & Co., New York, NY, may be best known for its Greenwich Village sandwich shop that primarily serves peanut butter sandwiches. Since its opening in 1998, the company continues to expand its peanut butter repertoire with 10 varieties of gourmet, all-natural peanut butter that are made with peanuts grown by American farmers.

In an effort to extend the company’s brand, Peanut Butter & Co. recently introduced a line of baking mixes for the retail market. The mixes include peanut flour and the company’s signature peanut butter. They were unveiled at the New York Fancy Food Show in June.

The mixes are available in Peanut Butter Swirl brownies, Old Fashioned Peanut Butter cookies and Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcakes. Varieties were inspired by popular peanut butter baked foods found in restaurants and bakeries as well as products the company believed would be popular with consumers.

“The baking mixes primarily target an audience of at-home foodies looking for a from-scratch taste,” said Lee Zalben, president, Peanut Butter & Co.

The company teamed with the National Peanut Board (NPD) to include peanut flour, which is produced by pressing the oil from roasted peanut paste, in the mixes. NPD introduced three varieties of Pure Protein’s roasted peanut flour and protein peanut powder at the National Restaurant Association show in May.

The use of peanut flour can be traced back to the Incas, but it’s finding renewed favor among chefs and bakers for its flavor, protein and emulsification properties. Bakers are also blending roasted peanut flour with other flours to make gluten-free bread, pizza crusts and flatbread alternatives.

“We like to say that peanuts make the exotic familiar and the familiar exotic,” said Marie Fenn, president and managing director, NPB.

Ingredients in the mixes are all-natural and were designed to acknowledge busy consumers by including Peanut Butter & Co.’s signature peanut butter in the mixes. “This is one less thing for the consumer to purchase at the store,” Mr. Zalben said. “The mixes are designed to be a simple, easy-to-prepare and less messy baking mix that provides more satisfaction to the consumer.”

The 19-oz peanut butter brownies mix and the 25.9-oz peanut butter cookies and chocolate peanut butter cupcake mixes all retail for $5.99. Packaging features the “Quality USA” peanut seal of the American Peanut Council, which indicates the use of only USA-grown peanuts, as well as NPB’s new “Energy for the Good Life” logo.

Peanut Butter & Co.’s Nov. 1 launch will be initially concentrated in the Northeast with later coverage nationwide. The launch will be supported by coupons and in-store promotions and sampling. Future line extensions will include snacks, according to Mr. Zalben.