Mark Overbay, the brains (and palate) behind Durham, North Carolina’s Big Spoon Roasters, has been a lifelong lover of all things edible, but especially the humble peanut. Though he, like most Americans, grew up eating peanut butter, his conception of the lovable spread was transformed in 1999 when he found himself in Zimbabwe, working as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Living in a rural farming community, Overbay was awed by a local staple - freshly harvested peanuts, roasted over an open flame, hand-ground and salted. In other words, the absolute freshest peanut butter imaginable.
When Overbay returned to the U.S., he was disappointed to find that there wasn’t a single brand of PB on the shelves that even came close to matching this taste memory. However, it would be 10 years before he turned his frustrations into the deliciousness that is Big Spoon. “I devoted the next decade of my life to promoting the connection between nutrition and health, advocating for a more just and sustainable food system, and marketing direct-trade coffee.” Not a bad way to spend his time, of course, but here at Mouth Headquarters, we’re certainly happy that he found his way back to what is obviously his true calling: peanut butter.
In January of 2011, he finally launched Big Spoon Roasters so that he (and everyone!) could once again enjoy freshly roasted PB as addictively tasty as the kind he remembered from that little Zimbabwean village. Overbay incorporated lessons learned from his work in food and health advocacy, using only the best nuts from around the U.S. and never adding palm oil or any sweetener other than pure, wildflower honey to his perfect peanut butters. “We source ingredients from only trusted, transparent farms and producers that share our philosophy, and we buy our nuts locally and regionally when possible. Peanuts are a tremendous agricultural resource for the American Southeast, and North Carolina is ranked sixth in terms of peanut production. We are thrilled to be able to work with local and regional peanut farmers and to be a positive market force for sustainable peanut agriculture and transparent marketing.” Jars are hand packed, while the nut butters are still warm from the grind, and the freshness of his final product is simply unparalleled.
The company is named for Mark’s father Gary “Big Spoon” Overbay, who was so called because of his tendency to eat PB straight from the jar (a practice we are wholly in favor of).