A few years ago, Denise Kelley set out to buy her daughter, niece and nephew some Valentine’s Day gifts.
“They’re nut freaks,” Kelley says, “so I thought, ‘Hey, I’ll get nuts instead of candy.”
But Kelley, the owner of Yarn Shop and More in downtown Overland Park, couldn’t find any fresh nuts in the Kansas City area. The nuts you find at grocery stores, Kelley says, grow stale sitting on the shelf for too long.
That got the entrepreneur thinking about opening a nut store of her ownthat sold truly fresh nuts, shipped in several times a week, alongside trail mix and candy.
That’s the origin story behind We B Nuts And Stuff, 9429 Mission Road in Leawood’s Ranch Mart North shopping center, a small shop located a couple doors down from Foo’s Fabulous Frozen Custard.
Behind glass on a long counter that runs the length of the store, you’ll find bins filled with malted milk balls, peanut butter-pretzel bites, honey-cinnamon almonds, raw cashews and smoked pistachios.
Suzanne Mueller, Kelley’s sister, doles out samples from behind the counter. When I went last week, she poured a trio of raw almonds into my palm and asked me to try them. When I popped them in my mouth, I was suprised to find that they were crunchy, not chewy — with a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth quality.
“Good, right?” Mueller said.
I also sampled a hunk of chipotle-spiced chocolate that left my tongue tingling and a mint-flavored malted milk ball that tasted more like a Thin Mint Girl Scout cookie than a Whopper. “It’s because the quality of the chocolate’s so good,” Mueller explained.
One of Kelley’s favorite products is raw local pecans she buys from Prothe’s Pecans, a farm in Paola, Kan. “I was not a pecan freak until I found these,” Kelley says. “They’re so fresh it’s almost wrong.”
The pecans, with their tender texture and subtle sweetness, are delicious without roasting, salt, sugar or cinnamon. I love them plain or chopped and sprinkled on top of oatmeal.
Another We B Nuts And Stuff specialty is locally made chocolates from B&W Confections. It’s hard to beat B&W’s dark chocolate-coated salted caramels ($12 per dozen) especially if you crave your sweets spiked with salt. But the Peanut Butter Meltaways ($15 per pound) come extremely close. Imagine a layer of luscious milk chocolate wrapping a dice-sized block of the creamiest peanut butter.
Health nuts might skip the peanut butter meltaways and spring for the smoked and seasoned pistachios that Kelley buys from Nut Nation in Lawrence. The pistachios come in eight flavors — blazin’ sweet, honey onion, chipotle, curry mango — and are sold in their shells.
We B Nuts And Stuff also stocks 12 kinds of trail mix. I’m partial to the Sierra blend (about $9 per pound), a hodge podge of peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame sticks and chili-coated crescent shapes that gets sweet, smoky flavor from barbecue seasoning.
I’m trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to cut back on sugar, so I really tried to stick to the trail mix, pistachios and pecans at We B Nuts And Stuff. I resisted the urge to buy Pixy Stix — one of my favorite candies from childhood, essentially a huge straw full of fruit-flavored sugar — but I was a goner when I got to the shelf full of Haribo gummies.
We B Nuts And Stuff stocks Haribo candies in every shape and size: Giant alphabet letters, tiny frogs, gummies that look just like toy army men and, of course, gummy bears. I left with a bag of Peachy Penguins — one-inch-tall black and white penguins that smelled and tasted like summer stone fruit.
The store also stocks other classic candies, like Abba-Zaba (chewy taffy with a peanut butter center), peanut-studded Big Hunk bars and Valomilks, milk chocolate cups stuffed with marshmallow fluff.
The bottom line: Whether you’re a sweets freak or a health nut, We B Nuts And Stuff has something for every taste.
Enterprise reporter Sarah Gish writes about dining in Johnson County every first and third week of the month. Contact her by calling 816-234-4823, emailing email@example.com or tweeting @sarah_gish.
We B Nuts And Stuff
Location: 9429 Mission Road in Leawood
Phone: 913-649-NUTS (or 913-649-6887)
Hours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Credit cards: Yes
Parking: Free lot
Don’t miss: The dark chocolate-coated salted caramels from B&W Confections ($12 per dozen), the raw pecans from Prothe’s Pecans in Paola, Kan. ($16 per pound), and the curry-mango pistachios from Nut Nation in Lawrence (about $14.90 per pound).
More info: webnutsandstuff.com