How Big Spoon Roasters Started

One Saturday back in 2010, Mark Overbay, founder of Big Spoon Roasters, was sanding wood in his backyard in Durham, NC. He had just finished his favorite snack of all times, which was apples with peanut butter. Rather than feeling satisfied, Mark was frustrated by the quality of the peanut butter he had just tasted. He could not help but think back to the fresh-roasted nut butter he had over 10 years ago in Zimbabwe.

big spoon roasters-mark overbay and father-mypanier

After college, Mark decided to join the Peace Corps as a teaching volunteer in 1999. In the rural community where he lived, he witnessed farmers harvesting, roasting, and crushing peanuts with stone mortars and pestles. The “all natural” peanut butter he had smothered on his apples slices were no match for these handmade delicacy. Mark immediately had the idea of recreating this experience from scratch in his very own kitchen. He bought raw peanuts and pecans from his local grocery store and heated them up. He then milled them with the wildflower honey and sea salt that were already lying around in his pantry. The resulting batch was the Pecan Peanut Butter, which is one of his most popular nut butters today.

big spoon roasters-mark overbay pouring pecans-mypanier

Mark saw the opportunity in turning his passion into a business that focused on simple ingredients, transparency, and sustainability. Coincidentally, North Carolina was a very rich peanut-growing state, which made it the perfect setting for his new venture.

The name, Big Spoon Roasters, was inspired by a childhood memory Mark had of his father. When Mark was 6, he wandered into his family’s kitchen and saw his dad, Gary, eating peanut butter. Gary had a jar of peanut butter on one hand and a large serving spoon on the other. Delighted by this sight, Mark blurted out, “BIG SPOON!”, which stuck with Gary as a nickname, even to this day.

big spoon roasters-espresso nut butter-mypanier

Big Spoon Roasters’ Espresso Nut Butter is packed with almonds, peanuts, and finely grounded espresso – an automatic keeper!

In 2011, Mark launched Big Spoon Roasters as a side project while being a marketing communications manager for Counter Culture Coffee. His experience working in an artisan food company soon paid off when he had to transition into a full-time nut butter maker.

Handmade Nut Butters

When it comes to the ingredients, Mark is still very meticulous about how they are sourced and how well they fit into the Big Spoon label. For example, he searched high and low and tested over 24 varieties of almonds before choosing the Mission Almonds as the base of his Almond Butter. What Mark liked about these heirloom almonds is the rich, deep flavor they bring to the spread, thank to their slow roasting time.

big spoon roasters-mark overbay laying almonds-mypanier

All of Big Spoon’s nut butters are made-to-order, in an effort to stray away from the culture of mass production. You can find a list of all the ingredients used, which anyone can easily pronounce, on the front of each jar. When you buy from Big Spoon Roasters, you are paying for nut butter made by hand with passion and heart.

Check out NC Next’s feature of Big Spoon Roasters to see the process behind each handcrafted jar:


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