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Battle of the North Carolina Church Club Peanuts

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For years, aficionados who liked their peanuts fried in small batches by septuagenarian hobbyists who gather in church rec rooms had but one option: the peanuts prepared by the First Methodist Church Men’s Club in Mount Olive, North Carolina. As you may have read in these pages, Danny Meyer’s business partner Richard Coraine discovered these extra-crunchy, super-salty specimens—which are to other peanuts what what Belgian frites are to Munchos—on a reconnaissance trip prior to opening Blue Smoke in 2002. Hopelessly smitten, he’s been buying as many cases as the First Methodist peanut men can produce ever since. Recently, though, a rival peanut has made an appearance on the shelves of Brooklyn’s Über-bodega Marlow & Sons, this one the work of the Englewood United Methodist Men’s Club in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, a mere hour’s drive from Mount Olive. A friend of Marlow & Son’s buyer Tom Mylan brought them back with him from the source, Mylan contacted the church, and now he too is in the peanut-importing business. “They’re probably one of the coolest things I carry,” he says. So which is the superior peanut product? Our taste test ended in a virtual tie: The Englewood United peanut had its fans but so did First Methodist. According to Englewood United Men’s Club treasurer Tom Bazemore, however, it’s not really a question of quality but experience. “We’ve been cooking peanuts for almost 50 years,” he says. “A lot of Methodist churches sell them because they’ve observed our operation; people say, ‘That’s a good peanut, maybe we should try it.’ ”


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