Peanut Butter on the menu for Kāpiti

On Thursday the 10th of January Pic Crundlestein will be making toast for the people of Kāpiti. Where, he’s not sure, but he will be appearing somewhere.

“People will notice us like anything, and those who dont get the chance to sample our wares will, I know, appreciate finding out about the caravan in your good paper.”

Pic’s background story of the peanut butter crusade:

In 1992 I was sailing in the Bay of Islands (I like that sailing), and rowed across to an American yacht for breakfast. Brad made some toast, asked what I’d like on it, and pulled an old jar of American peanut butter out of a locker.

On the label it said, in big letters “Health Style”.Now I, like any strapping kiwi lad, knew that peanut butter was pretty damned healthy already, so I was intrigued to know what they’d done to it to make it better.

What these clever yanks had done was to reduce the amount of sugar they added! I was stunned. In those days no kiwi peanut butter contained sugar, but I could see the writing on the wall

‘Mark my words’ I said to anyone who would listen:’The day will come when peanut butter will be loaded with sugar.’

And so it has come to pass. I discovered sugar in my favourite peanut butter back in 2007. I switched brands, but very soon they were all at it. I rang Pam’s 0800 number once, to be told that their market surveys showed customers preferred it that way!

And then I became aware that just about all the peanut butter in our supermarkets was being made in China, and that they were not only adding sugar, but they were chucking emulsifiers, antioxidants and litres of unspecified hydrogenated oils in there as well.

I was on the point of ringing the bastards again when I hatched my plan. In October 2007 I bought a ten kilo bag of peanuts and started roasting. And grinding. And it was YUMMY. I fed it to my twelve year old son and he liked it. And his mates liked it too one even bought some with his pocket money.

So that, in a peanut shell, is what got me going. I started off roasting with a converted concrete mixer in my garage and grinding in the kitchen but gave that away after a year for a dark and gloomy corner of a disused freezing works at Wakatu Industrial Estate here in Nelson. People like you kept buying it, and before we knew where we were, we sending it off by the pallet and needed to move again.

We are now very happily settled in a brand new building with shiny white walls, a nut store the size of Te Papa and hand basins with taps that turn on when you wave your hands underneath them.

There are eleven of us here, Corey, Paul, Wayne and Chris making your peanut butter, Lee, Amanda, Chris, Kelsie and me organising jars, shops, money and stuff, and Craig and Russell dealing with machines and trucks and boxes that need to be moved about.

Pic’s is now on sale in every supermarket in New Zealand and in over 200 gourmet and specialty stores in Queensland and New South Wales. We have outlets in Hong Kong and ship it to mail order customers all over the world. In 2010 it won Cuisine Magazine’s Artisan Food of the Year Award.

In 2012, Pic launched the Big Toaster Tor of New Zealand in partnership with Vogels Bread and Dualit Toasters. The Big Toaster is a gleaming silver Airstream food caravan with two enormous slices of toast protruding from its roof. Towed by a classic Holden ute with an on-board generator, it can produce hot toast and peanut butter within minutes of setting up.

It is an eye catching rig, and those who stop for a look are offered a free slice of toast, liberally spread with Pic’s and a range of toppings. Tastes are free, but if you are after a serious snack a donation to the Blind Foundation will get you a healthy and delicious lunch.

Pic, who is partially sighted and travels with a driver, was delighted to receive sponsorship from Vogels, one of New Zealand’s truly iconic brands and his personal favourite when well toasted and spread with peanut butter.

Similarly, he was thrilled to be given enough Dualit toasters to leave a network of official Pic’s on Vogel’s cafes in his wake during the South Island part of his tour and will be on the lookout for interesting establishments to do the same in the North Island.