"Can you handle my spicy hot nuts?" asked the jaunty, sombrero-clad legume from a blue T-shirt hanging in the Krema Nut Company in Grandview. "Why yes I can," I thought to myself, "I can handle all your nuts, plus whatever else you've got."
The fantastic, Columbus-proud Krema company has been roasting all-natural, super-premium nut products in small batches since 1898. In 1908, Krema started making a quickly famous spread, and now it's the oldest peanut butter company still in operation in the United States. Talk about a local treasure!
But the company's longevity, old-fashioned methods and uncompromising quality have translated into tons of national renown. Unsurprisingly, respected big-time food publications like Saveur and Cooking Light have declared that Krema's all-natural peanut butter (no salt, no sugar, no preservatives) was among the absolute tops in the country (Cooking Light ranked Krema's chunky style No. 1).
Frankly, I've known how great our hometown nut roasters were for a long time, as Krema's the only peanut butter brand I buy.
Sure, Krema products are sold in local and discriminating stores, but if you've never visited their inconspicuous-from-the-exterior little home office, you really should. Inside, you can revel in nostalgic news articles and knickknacks, shop for stunning, "spicy nuts"-type T-shirts (or boxer shorts!), watch a handful of experienced workers through a window, and peruse walls and walls of dreamy, handmade candies alongside an amazing array of beyond great nutty snacks.
Another perk of strolling through the Krema store is scoring terrific, nut-butter-fortified sandwiches (made on locally baked dense and thick-sliced white or whole wheat Great Harvest bread), thick shakes and ice creams from a counter at the west end of the shop.
From old-fashioned favorites to creative concoctions, these cheap, but ultra-high quality, nut-tastic treats can take you back to being a kid again, only with a more grown-up palate. Here's a few killer Krema things I recently plowed through:
• The Kicker ($3.50): I love this sandwich. It's like a great PB&J set aflame by layering thick and fruity "hot" raspberry preserves with Krema's cumin-kissed spicy peanut putter. Like all sammies here, it's huge.
• The Buckeye ($3.50): O-H, M-Y! This one will have you ringing the victory bell and singing "Carmen Ohio" - it's peanut butter alloyed with Nutella (that beloved chocolate and hazelnut spread)
• Peanut Butter & Jelly milkshake ($3): It might sound kinda iffy, but do not fear it - it's rich, thick and utterly delicious! The super-thick shake was fashioned by brilliantly combining made-in-Bexley Johnson's vanilla ice cream and strawberry sauce with Krema's great peanut butter. To drink it is to scream, "Eureka!"
For more local food news and reviews, click to G.A. Benton's blog at blog.columbusalive.com/underthetable