By Mickey Winfield: PNT Staff Writer
When it comes to developing new products, local peanut and candy manufacturers rely on outside help.
Sunland Peanuts was honored by Better Homes and Gardens last year with a top ranking for its natural creamy Valencia peanut butter, but Sunland also produces multiple flavors of the peanut product.
“We have a person that is extremely good at making the peanut butter in the kitchen, and knowing exactly what it needs to get out the taste that we’re really trying to get to,” Sunland Inc. president and CEO Jimmie Shearer said.
That person is Katalin Coburn, a 25-year veteran of the food industry who resides in California.
Over the years, through her company “Peanut Better,” which was bought out by Sunland, Coburn has combined peanut butter with beloved flavors such as chocolate and honey, as well as some flavors that might seem to be odd.
Some of the popular peanut butters available at Sunland’s retail store are banana, caramel, dark chocolate, cinnamon, raspberry and almond.
While some seemingly odd peanut butter combinations turn out to be a success, others seemingly obvious pairings don’t work — like peanut butter and jelly, Coburn said.
Leslie’s Candy Kitchen in Clovis is another local business that produces products and they also get many of their flavor ideas from California.
Like Sunland, Leslie’s is a wholesale company that ships across the country while keeping a retail store in the Clovis/Portales area.
“The main thing that we make right now are old fashioned cube-shaped suckers,” said Greg Southard, president of Leslie’s.
Leslie’s produces about two dozen candies and flavors, ranging from suckers to peanut patties, and Southard said that products or flavors are always customer driven.
“We had a wholesale company in Texas who called and asked for a jalapeno flavored sucker,” Southard said. “And that product that we developed was for him.”
“We start by working with our flavor manufacturer, which is a California company,” Southard said. “When we started manufacturing mango suckers, they sent us three different flavors, and after taste testing them ourselves, we figured out which one we liked the best, we tweaked it a little bit, and started manufacturing them.”