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Boiled peanut seller in SC's best-known peanut town calls it quits, citing Valencia crisis

Boiled peanuts

Boiled peanuts served at Gullah Cuisine. File

A boiled peanut vendor from Pelion, a town so infatuated with peanuts that it built a goober-shaped monument to the state’s official snack, is shutting down his business because Valencia peanuts are in such short supply.

As reported earlier this week by The Post and Courier, a significant portion of South Carolina’s boiled peanut sellers are fiercely loyal to the raw Valencia peanuts shipped from New Mexico and Texas. But drought and attractively high cotton prices depleted the latest harvest, leaving peanut boilers here empty-handed at the start of their busiest season.

“This is the end of us,” said Bud Davis of Gabe’s P-Nut Pot, formerly known as Redneck’s Peanuts. “We will be praying for our other peanut friends’ businesses.”

In 2020, Davis stayed busy by selling boiled peanuts alongside the pool houses of residential developments. A neighborhood group recently invited him back for what he assumed would be the first appearance of another successful summer. He was feeling so good about his enterprise that he’d just built a new trailer to house it.

But when Davis went to the S.C. State Farmers Market in West Columbia for provisions, his dealer told him that he only had one pallet of Valencia peanuts and didn’t expect to get another until October.

Davis bought just enough peanuts for the gig he’d already accepted. Then he logged into Facebook to announce that his next batch of boiled peanuts would be his last.

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Although Davis could have purchased the pallet, he wanted to leave the valuable peanuts for peers who boil on a full-time basis. Davis’ primary source of income is countertop installation; seven years ago, he launched Redneck’s Peanuts to give his children experience in customer service.

Plus, “I just love boiled peanuts and I could never find any that were done quite right.”

Pelion’s formal affiliation with boiled peanuts dates back to 1982, when it threw the first annual South Carolina Peanut Party. The event typically commissions a local farmer to grow the 130 bushels of peanuts it boils for attendees; a Pelion Peanut Party representative said the current shortage of out-of-state peanuts shouldn’t interfere with the 2021 festivities, scheduled for Nov. 5-6.

While the S.C. Peanut Board is encouraging peanut boilers who favor Valencias to try state-grown Virginias, Davis said he wouldn’t consider switching to what he describes derisively as “the Jumbo.”

“It’s a personal thing,” he said.

He hasn’t decided yet what to do with the Gabe’s P-Nut Pot trailer.

Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.

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