How Sugar Plum’s Peanuts Found a Perfect Mate in Susquehanna Brewing Co.’s Beer
By Amy Strauss
It may have been a line of Sriracha-infused chocolates that planted Frann and Neil Edley’s candy business, Sugar Plum Chocolates, on the international map, but it’s their new beer-infused peanuts that are feeding the snack cravings of hop geeks everywhere.
The mother and son founded their candy-making business back in 1995 in Wilkes Barre, PA. Decades later, what all started at a round kitchen table has evolved into a large manufacturing facility in Kingston. The duo has over 20 successful years in the bag, which include E! Network appearances, placements in box office movies and Walking Dead-recognized zombie bars on their short list. But after decades of concocting chocolates and snacks that range from traditional to trendy, Neil decided to go hyper-local with a line of peanuts and partner with a neighboring business.
“There’s always a need for fun snacks while drinking beer,” he shared. “We thought it would be cool to partner with a local Pennsylvania brewery, so we went to Susquehanna Brewing Company (SBC)—who makes really good beer.” (The Northeast Pennsylvania brewery is located one town over from the Willy Wonka-esque factory.)
Sugar Plum’s Chief Strategy Officer Matt Watkins elaborated that the idea of having beer nuts that actually had beer in them was too fun of an approach that they couldn’t help but run with it.
The novel idea was well received by the brains of SBC, who helped pinpoint which beers would be the most worthy of a place in the candy aisle. Those that proved most deserving included Hopcellerator, a West Coast IPA with bursts of citrus, and the Pils-Noir, an English-style take on the classic Black & Tan.
As the Sugar Plum process goes, the peanuts are copper kettle-cooked, and dry-roasted for 40 minutes in small batches (under 50 pounds per batch). Next, beer is added into the process. All their nuts are dairy-free, made with pure cane sugar and don’t use any fats, oils or butters. This truly allows the beer to shine.
The end result? “When you actually taste the beer-infused nuts as you’re drinking the beer that they’re infused with … it’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before,” said Watkins. “It’s so much better than your traditional beer nut, which are typically just regular salted nuts. It’s just such a unique thing to experience.”
Sugar Plum first began their sprint into beer nut production by creating Guinness-infused cashews. Following that success, they also throw spirits into the mix, including products like Jamaican lager-infused peanuts and Kentucky bourbon-infused almonds.
But, back to the all-PA beer varieties. “We liked supporting other small businesses and people who enjoy craft beer,” concluded Edley. “It’s nice to find breweries—especially so close to home—that are so committed to a truly quality product. Every time you get a draft beer at Susquehanna, you know that you are going to be getting something good.”
You can find Sugar Plum’s beer-infused nuts in Philadelphia at the PA General Store in the Reading Terminal Market (51 N. 12th St.). You can also find them in Susquehanna Brewing Company’s tasting room (635 S Main St, Pittston) or online at www.sugarplumchocolates.com.