phone: 519 426 9222
When problems hit the tobacco industry in the late 1970's, Ernie and Nancy Racz went nuts. Literally. Ernie started experimenting with peanuts, which are well suited to the light sandy soils of southwestern Ontario. By 1982, the couple was growing peanuts commercially.
Today, the family farm outside Vittoria houses a peanut manufacturing, wholesale and retail operation. Kernal Peanuts Limited grows Valencia peanuts, then harvests and processes them for a number of products.
The store, located in a vine-covered outbuilding, is a nut lover's paradise, selling salted and unsalted nuts and flavoured nuts--garlic, barbecue, sour cream, onion, mild and hot cajun. Peanut butter, peanut brittle and fudge are just a few of the other delectable delights.
Many are produced on-site and carry the Kernal label and slogan "Nuttin' But The Best."
In addition, the shop stocks a variety of specialty food items, including locally grown dried shiitake mushrooms, shiitake mushroom powder and sparkling apple cider. A number of gift items are on sale both in the store and by mail.
Nancy also has a selection of antique peanut butter cans and containers on display. Most of them were picked up at antique shops, auctions or garage sales, and they provide an interesting glimpse into history of one of North America's most popular foods.
Despite their popularity, peanuts have been getting a bad rap in recent years because of allergies and their high fat content. As far as the fat goes, recent research indicates that peanuts and peanut butter are good for your heart, helping to lower bad cholesterol and raise levels of good cholesterol.
The key, of course is moderation--although that's hard to practice at Kernal peanuts, where mouth-watering fudge is on display and the air is redolent of fresh peanut butter. However, if you are extremely self-disciplined (or don't mind giving into temptation now and then), Kernal Peanuts is definitely worth a visit.
You can on your own, or as part of a bus tour. If you opt for a tour, you'll get a look at a real, honest-to-goodness peanut patch near the shop while Ernie Racz explains growing and harvesting methods. After that, it's on to the plant, where there's usually something going on, such as roasting, shelling, or making peanut butter. The tour winds up in the shop, where there's a video for everyone who wants more details, and a chance to sample some of the goodies. Please call for tour prices. Advance bookings only! For directions and store hours, please visit the location page and the gift/products page.