#BrewersLunch: Meet the Creators of the Salted Nut Roll

A truck rolls in with a fresh order straight from the BSG Warehouse. The team gathers around as the pallets are unloaded, and as the last pallet hits the ground, the hunt is on. Somewhere between the malt bags hides a hidden gem – the coveted Pearson’s Salted Nut Roll. How did the Salted Nut Roll become such a staple sweet in the brewing industry?

We turn back the clock to 1909, in a city built along the Mighty Mississippi. There, P. Edward Pearson starts a confectionary distribution firm with the help of his four brothers, thus starting the Pearson’s candy legacy in St. Paul/Minneapolis. Three years later, the Nut Goodie made its public debut for a mere nickel, and in rapid succession made a loyal following that remains over a hundred years later. Two decades later in the midst of the Great Depression, every brewer’s favorite snack was born- The Salted Nut Roll. Chewy nougat and sweet golden caramel form the body of the treat, and are covered by salty, crunchy roasted peanuts. Through various company moves, ownership changes, candy rotations, and economic rises and falls, the Salted Nut Roll remained a fixture in Pearson’s Candy lineup and in the brewing industry.

While the original Salted Nut Roll has remained unchanged by the throes of history, Pearson’s can mark a few changes to their company. “While we still have the same strong commitment to quality products made in the USA, the consumer market has evolved and demands new flavors or formats,” noted Andrea Porfidio, Senior Director of Marketing at Pearson’s Candy. Not to be outdone by the company’s adjustments to the times, the Salted Nut Roll will be getting a few additional flavors soon. “The trend of adding spice and heat in both snacks and indulgent foods has been evolving over the last several years. The combination of spicy and sweet flavors is hot with 2 in 3 Americans showing interest in sweet and spicy flavor combinations,” said Porfidio. If this sounds like you, reader, then this next part will certainly spice things up. “Spicy and Cinnamon Churro are a limited flavor release for the summer. Each has their own unique flavor profile with nougat, caramel, and seasoned roasted peanuts. Spicy Salted Nut Roll is reminiscent of your favorite Tex-Mex seasonings with some heat. Cinnamon Churro is a combination of sweet with a little red-hot bite that cinnamon lovers will really enjoy.” Yum!

So where does Pearson’s find its inspiration behind new flavors, like Spicy and Cinnamon Churro? “Many ideas come up organically right here in St. Paul with ideas coming from employees, buyers, and ingredient suppliers. We do A LOT of internal sampling, which is tasty but requires a few extra steps every week to burn off the calories, to identify flavors that will be appeal to today’s consumers. Then we test them with consumers to make sure they are interested in the concept and that we have the flavor profile just right. Our learning doesn’t stop there, we listen to consumers feedback on products and continuously improve as we gain new learnings,” explained Porfidio. Unfortunately (for us) Pearson’s keeps their flavor development hush-hush, and don’t seek out taste testers from the public. “We do like to keep our new product introductions under wraps as long as possible to not tip-off the competition, but we are happy to share the great news closer to launch,” Porfidio said, letting us all down gently. However, the future remains bright. “…the future could definitely bring a consumer panel that could help us test, launch and share new products.”

While we might not be able to test out the latest ideas and flavor concepts from Pearson’s, we can still enjoy their numerous sweet candies. “Mint Patties have a strong and loyal following with their delicious dark chocolate and real peppermint center. Nut Goodies are a Midwest favorite with real milk chocolate, roasted peanuts, and distinctive maple nougat,” said Porfidio. “But don’t mention Nut Goodie on the East Coast-  they know it as Bun with all the same great flavors as the Nut Goodie and also available in Vanilla Bun (with a vanilla nougat center).” Even though Pearson’s has loved and lost candies like Bit o’ Honey, the Salted Nut Roll remains a steadfast staple of their line. Which, in part, is why BSG is famous for including those salty and sweet treats in our pallet orders. Starting in 2004, when Mid-America Brewing Supply evolved into Brewer’s Supply Group (BSG), the hard candies they originally included in pallet orders transformed into the Pearson’s Salted Nut Roll brewers have known and loved for years.

What does Pearson’s have to say in response to thousands of brewers loving their candy? “Thank you! We are so glad that you enjoy the Pearson’s Salted Nut Roll to help get you through your day of hard work,” replied Porfidio. “We are proud to be the unofficial “Brewer’s Lunch. Thank you for sharing your excitement for Salted Nut Roll with your community on social media. ‘Eat One. Do More Brewing.’”

If your brewery is short a Salted Nut Roll or two for your team, Salted Nut Rolls are always in convenience and grocery stores, as well as Amazon. A variety pack is available online  which is a great way to sample the new Cinnamon Churro and Spicy flavors. Happy brewing, and happy nut-rolling!

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