Most Americans grow up eating their fair share of peanut butter, and Mark Overbay was no exception. But a move to Zimbabwe during his stint as a Peace Corps volunteer changed his perspective on the classic sandwich spread.
There, in a rural farming community, the locals roasted fresh peanuts over an open fire before grinding them down with stones. It was a flavor he tried to match with American brands upon his return to the States, but to no avail.
Mark set out to make his own nut butters based on that experience, and started Big Spoon Roasters in January 2011. Since then, Big Spoon has gained a huge following in Durham and the rest of the Triangle, and is available at food purveyors not only in North Carolina, but also across the United States.
Now, Mark is gaining even more national attention. He was nominated as an American artisan food maker and is currently a finalist in Martha Stewart’s American Made Awards. The contest searches for small business owners whose work embodies the same quality, beauty, inspiration, possibility and creativity that can only come labeled as “Made in America.”
Mark is among 26 finalists in the Food category out of 100 finalists total up for the Audience Choice Award. The winner is honored at the American Made Awards in New York City, gets an appearance in Martha Stewart Living magazine and receives $10,000 to further his or her business.
“Winning would help us buy the equipment we need to make larger batches of fresh-roasted nut butter,” Mark says. “That would mean working with more like-minded retailers, selling at more farmers' markets and reaching our goal of attaining our own production facility by mid-2013.”
To get Mark to fame and fortune, he’s going to need a boost from his nut-butter-lovin’ community. Click here to vote for Mark. You can vote once daily until September 24.
“A vote for Big Spoon is a vote for the idea that peanut butter can be more than a simple, often stale, foil for jelly,” Mark says. “It can be an extraordinary, fresh and mind-blowingly delicious food experience. We want to introduce our fresh-roasted nut butters to more people. We also want to grow our business into one that makes a difference beyond the plate: in sustainable nut agriculture, honeybee conservation, food-packaging recycling programs and our local community in Durham. We can do all that with your help!”
Let’s help him achieve that dream, folks.