By Taylor Swaak
Peanut butter – it’s a universal sandwich and snacking staple; beloved by many, yet commonplace, forever associated with generic brands like Skippy and Jiff. Well, not if Emily Peet and Allie Fales have anything to say about it.
Peet, a sophomore nutrition major, and Fales, a sophomore business major, joined forces to start their own peanut butter business, Spread the Love, back in January.
Spread the Love peanut butter is made from scratch, containing all natural ingredients. The peanut butter also comes in different flavors that deviate from the norm.
“We both just really loved peanut butter to start out with, and we wanted something more than just the basic peanut butter,” Fales said.
Spread the Love peanut butter is offered in a few flavors at any given time. This time of the year, the flavors are classic peanut butter, chocolate fudge and gingerbread crunch. No, this isn’t a hoax – peanut butter with real gingerbread in it is now officially a thing, and it’s a crowd pleaser.
“The best one they have out right now that my roommate and I have is the gingerbread crunch that they made for fall, and it’s so good,” said Alex Pacinda, a sophomore double major in broadcast journalism and Spanish who first tried the peanut butter last semester.
So good, that other peanut butter just doesn’t cut it anymore.
“My roommate has a couple of little Jiff packs-to-go, and we haven’t really eaten them because we just have their [Spread the Love] peanut butter in our fridge and we eat that,” said Sarah Matzelle, a sophomore public relations major.
Fun Fact: their peanut butter is indeed refrigerator-friendly.
“Natural peanut butter is much creamier, so when you refrigerate it, it kind of takes on a whole new consistency that’s not typical with peanut butter of commercial brands,” Peet said. “It’s very thick and you can scoop it.”
Peet and Fales make the peanut butter in a department-certified food trailer that Peet’s parents – who have a seafood market – allow them to use. They use an industrial food processor and other industrial food equipment at that location to make the peanut butter.
While making the peanut butter itself is a pretty simple process, Peet and Fales said the extra touch that makes their product stand out – from the ratio of oils used to ingredient combinations for different flavors – requires frequent trial and error.
“It can be tough, the ratios of the ingredients to make it perfect, and the time of cooking,” Fales said. “We have a Google Doc of what we just randomly think of.”
For these busy college students, the peanut butter production process itself only occurs about once a month. Peet and Fales often purchase a bulk order of about 130 jars and 50 pounds of peanuts, and make as many jars of peanut butter as they can with those resources. They often sell out.
“It’s a little bit over a half pound of nuts in every jar, and it’s only six dollars, so it’s pretty cheap compared to our competitors,” Peet said. “We have a lot of returning customers but we’re still trying to get our name out there.”
Despite their current success, Peet and Fales are eager to expand their customer base and continue to grow. Their next steps include protecting their company by creating an LLC, and trying to get their product offered in campus stores, such as the Co-op, 24 Shop and Commons Shop by the end of the school year.
Their business consists of shipping and self-distribution, depending on where customers live. Customers involved in Greek life and living off campus can have the peanut butter they order online brought to their doorstep for free.
Although students living on-campus can’t reap the benefits of free distribution – free distribution of products is prohibited on campus – the shipping costs are still moderately budget-friendly. Shipping is $5.95 for one to four jars of peanut butter, and $12 for five to eight jars.
The ordering process is simple: go online to shopspreadthelove.com. At checkout, those living in the pre-determined free distribution areas can enter UMDGREEK into the coupon code to receive free shipping. Customers living on-campus pay the flat shipping rate, and receive their order within two to three business days.
In the meantime, buying plastic spoons from the local store, or gradually stocking up from the diner, is highly recommended.