Local peanut butter business spreads

Seniors Tara Blanzy of Naperville, Ill., right, and Brennan Elsas of Lincoln, Ill., started “Gone Nuts,” a small business that sells handmade peanut butter, in April of this year. “It’s been an interesting ride starting our own business and trying to balance that with classes,” said Blanzy. Gabriel Scarlett/HERALD

Andrew Critchelow

A local peanut butter company is in business and hopes to satisfy Bowling Green’s sweet tooth while using local ingredients.

Gone Nuts, created in April by 21-year-old senior Tara Blanzy and 22-year-old senior Brennan Elsas, makes a wide variety of peanut butters and sells its products at various farmers markets across the state. Elsas, of Lincoln, Illinois, said the idea of creating a peanut butter business came simply from frequenting the local farmers market circuit.

“We started going to the farmers markets on Saturdays, and we really liked the atmosphere there and everything that was going on, and we noticed that no one else had peanut butter,” Elsas said. “We both liked peanut butter, so we just said, ‘Let’s make some peanut butter.’”

According to Elsas, he and Blanzy, of Naperville, Illinois, met on the WKU swim team and had been dating for about 2 1/2 years before they formulated the idea for the business. Blanzy said working with Elsas has been a joy.

“He keeps things so lighthearted and allows me to relax,” Blanzy said. “If we weren’t in this together, I think I would have gone crazy by now because I can be serious all the time.”

Elsas is currently studying agricultural business at WKU while Blanzy is studying marketing and has a job as a nanny for a local family. Blanzy said it can be difficult to balance her other responsibilities with the business.

“Balancing it with school and nannying is tough,” Blanzy said. “There are many late nights in the kitchen trying to get products made, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Elsas said it took the couple about two months to create peanut butter that was truly to their liking. He said the process involved much experimentation.

“We just taught ourselves,” Elsas said. “With how to get our consistency and our flavors and all that stuff, we just winged it.”

Gone Nuts currently makes a variety of peanut butter flavors including honey, cinnamon cashew and pumpkin pie. Elsas said the company’s bestseller so far has been the honey flavor.

“We get a lot of people who get that just because we use local honey,” Elsas said. “It’s a pretty diverse product; you can use it on a lot of things.”

Gone Nuts has sold its products in a variety of venues, including the Community Farmers Market in Bowling Green, Bounty of the Barrens Farmers Market in Glasgow and at several festivals.

Jackson Rolett, local farmer and member of the Community Farmers Market, said it has been exciting to watch Gone Nuts grow as a business.

“They do so well developing their customer base and listening to what their customers want,” Rolett said, “so it’s really cool to see — should they take their business to the next level — where they go with it.”

Elsas said despite only having two members, the company is doing well with current staffing but might add more members as the company expands.

“Having two people is pretty perfect,” Elsas said. “I think we divide our responsibilities pretty well.”

Blanzy said the business’s reception has been great so far even though the company is still in its early stages.

“The thing that makes me the most proud is that our customers keep coming back,” Blanzy said. “It shows that they truly love our product and value local businesses and local ingredients.”

In the future, the duo hope to develop new flavors of peanut butter and launch a new website in January. Blanzy credits the joy of her work so far to the values the company holds.

“What I like most about our business is that our products are focused on being refined-sugar-free and grain-free,” Blanzy said. “Our company truly values the health of others, and we love providing fresh products using as many local ingredients as possible.”