By Todd Travis
A candy-making tradition dating back to the early-to-mid-1980s continues to delight residents in the Southside area who are lucky enough to have tried this uniquely made peanut brittle. The tradition began out of a need that a few members of Smith Valley Baptist Church recognized around their community.
“One of the members had a recipe for peanut brittle that they began using and it has been tweaked and improved throughout the years. It has grown to be something that is pretty sought after as people have realized how tasty this recipe has become,” said Vicki Hollanders, who just joined the team this year to help make peanut brittle.
“My mother, who is 84, has been making this peanut brittle ever since it began, along with a couple other ladies, one who is now 94 years old,” she added.
A sweet way to give back
These original members got together and decided they wanted to raise money to give to local missions organizations in the area. These include The Salvation Army Samaritan Services Food Pantry in Greenwood, Johnson County Senior Services and the St. Thomas Free Clinic in the Whiteland/Franklin area. They were able to raise enough money through sales of the peanut brittle to give to these organizations as well as toward special events that were held at the church. They continue to support these missions today as well.
“The uniqueness of this particular peanut brittle is that they are able to stretch it very thin, and it has a real delicate texture. It’s not that hard, stick to your teeth, break your teeth kind that some people are used to eating. So that’s really the difference and the uniqueness that has caused people to tell us how much they love our peanut brittle – because of how thin and flavorful it is,” Hollanders described.
The group of candy makers is able to produce about 60 pounds of peanut brittle in a typical production morning, which amounts to around 1,000 pounds for a given season. The facility is inside the church, so they use communion cups to measure the vanilla that is added to the recipe.
A holiday gift-giving idea
This year they will expand some of their reach as they look to share this treat with as many people as possible. They do sell the peanut brittle at a few of the local craft fairs, but for the first time they will be doing the Bargersville Santa train and Christmas market. They will also be adding a drive-through service to deliver the peanut brittle both for pre-orders and same-day orders on Nov. 19 and Dec. 17 at the parking lot at the Smith Valley Baptist Church.
Without revealing too many secrets, Hollanders shares what she’s learned since she joined the peanut brittle team.
“There’s an art to it – some of the little details make all the difference. A lot of it is in the way it is spread and of course candy thermometers are used to make sure everything is perfect. And there are a few more secrets that we might not want to share,” Hollanders revealed.
Pre-orders can be made over the phone by calling 317-881-6888, and you will get detailed instructions on the voicemail on how to order the peanut brittle. Then you can come on one of the two drive-through days that they will be holding. Other arrangements could be made if those dates are not available. The peanut brittle is sold in 1-pound bags for $11 and half-pound bags for $6.