I’ve known the owner of Huntington Kitchen, Jennifer Huntington for a long time…we’re talking, like, since puberty long time.Since before her name was Jennifer Huntington long time! As one of my oldest and best friends, I’ve always been the lucky recipient of her deliciously handmade baked goods and knack of delivering true love through her cooking.
I remember standing in the kitchen of her college apartment (possible moderately to severely hung over) listening to her tell me about the new machines they had installed in Whole Foods that allowed you to grind and make your own nut butters. Her eyes got really wide as she described the different types of flavors she’d been experimenting with, and she became animated in a way that made me think at the time… “Wow, here is passion… for nuts, OK, but PASSION”! So, I wasn’t surprised when, almost a decade later, she decided to start her own gourmet food company, Huntington Kitchen.
She and husband, Steve Huntington, had the concept for the brand, which focuses on decadent and highly addictive artisan nut butters and granola, in December of 2011 and made their first sale in May of 2012. Jen says her motivation was the birth of her two boys; she knew she didn’t want to return to work, but she had way too much energy to sit around. She’d reached the point in life where she wanted to do what she enjoyed and thought, “I love food, if I’m going to make it anyway, I might as well make it my living”!
Because sourcing locally was very important, they took their time to find just the right North Carolina based companies to supply their raw materials. Jen says they couldn’t live without Bakers’ Southern Traditions Peanuts from Bertie County who drive up and hand deliver over 300 pounds of peanuts to them at a time. They also use canola oil from Whole Harvest, another NC based company, which is unique in being one of the few non-GMO canola oil companies in the world.
In the last few years, Huntington Kitchens has grown organically. Starting out selling their products at farmer’s markets around the Triangle, you can now find their goodies at several local retailers and through the Produce Box. They have 5 core flavors of nut-butters; the Coffee Vanilla Peanut Butter is like crack (seriously, you’ve been warned), and 4 year-round granolas, plus 1 ever-changing seasonal flavor. If you are especially hooked, like me, they even have a 3.5 pound jar called the Granola Bomb… it’ll last you about 2 hours. They’ve even begun to collaborate with other Triangle based brands, like Bean Traders in Durham, to create new flavors (You can buy the exclusive Chocolate Coffee Peanut Butter at Bean Traders now).
Jen says the next step will be to sell their nut-butters at Whole Foods… which… kind of brings the whole story full circle! While Huntington Kitchen is special because it’s so near and dear to my heart, they are also the perfect embodiment of the Harbinger Maker. I’m proud to talk about them for so many reasons and hope you’ll become as hopelessly addicted to their goodies as I am.