MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. — Despite the struggling economy, business is boiling over for one lucky group down east. Call it a collision between the big city and country cooking as two New York City restaurants are going nuts over a small peanut maker in Wayne County.
The Men's Club at First United Methodist Church in Mount Olive cooks up about 480 pounds of peanuts at a time for charity.
"It gets kinda peanutty, kinda nutty around here on cooking day," said a club member.
Club members who cook and fill jars one at at time have had to pick up the pace recently. The peanuts have become quite popular. Two restaurant owners in New York have made major orders.
"They were here in this area and got a jar of our peanuts out of one of the local restaurants. They ate them, liked them and went back to New York and started serving them in their restaurant. The next thing you knew people were buying them up there," cook Pete Gurley said.
Church secretary Lynne Jackson works the phones, even calling herself the peanut queen, as the phone rings with new orders.
Club members will not give away the secrets of what make their product special -- - except for their salting method.
"You have to do this with your left hand or it won't work right," said a club member.
And the reason for their efforts -- the money goes ot charity.
"There's needy people out there and they need help," another club member said. "It's for the needy, not for the greedy."
Club members said the pay is excellent -- they work for peanuts. They also have big plans.
"I guess we'll be worldwide. We'll have a branch in London or Paris before it's all over," joked one church member.
Last year, the Men's Club of the Mount Olive First United Methodist church raised $27,000 for charity through the sale of its peanuts.