“Everybody called my daddy ‘Pop the Peanut Man,’” Annette recounted. “I have a picture of him with an old peanut wagon. I keep him with me.”
Each week, she travels around Hall County to the Flowery Branch and Gainesville farmers markets, alongside Johnny McDonald, her husband and co-owner of the business. The recipe for their salted boiled peanuts comes from Annette’s father, who used to run a peanut stand.
“My father was a painter all his life, but when he retired, he needed something to do,” she said. “He got into the boiled peanut business. When I tried Daddy’s boiled peanuts, I was hooked, and it became a family tradition.”
In 2016, Johnny followed the same path as his father-in-law. He said he needed something to do after retiring as a high-rise builder, so he decided to try his hand at boiled peanuts.
Johnny started with a little stand called Paw Paw’s Peanuts, outside the Marathon gas station off Spout Springs Road in Flowery Branch. Annette said her grandchildren call Johnny “Paw Paw,” which inspired the business’ name.
“I was just a happy camper,” he said. “I would set up and work for four hours and come home. The next thing I know, my wife had gone and booked stuff.”
Annette said she took over the business side of the operation, scheduling appearances at festivals and events around Hall County, including Mule Camp Market in Gainesville, the Braselton Antique & Artisan Festival and the Christmas tree lighting celebration in Flowery Branch.
“One thing that I’m proud of is that my company has a good reputation,” she said. “We do have a lot of repeat customers.”
A year after opening, Johnny said he decided to add pork rinds to the menu. He said a man at a festival started cooking the fried treat next to his stand, and he gave it a try.
Paw Paw’s Peanuts now serves up fresh-squeezed lemonade, eight different flavors of pork rinds, two types of boiled peanuts and other festival food. Annette said her brother runs a similar operation called, “Jimbo’s Peanuts,” which travels around Gwinnett.
Annette likes to describe the process of making their boiled peanuts as adding “salt, water, TLC and timing.”
In order to reach their perfected state, Annette said the peanuts are boiled for 12 hours. Every two hours, Johnny stirs the peanuts, making sure to add water as needed. To make the Cajun version, he sprinkles in an eight-spice seasoning mix, which he will not disclose.
“I enjoy every bit of it, from start to finish,” Johnny said.
Although running a boiled peanut stand requires a lot of time and labor, Annette said every moment is worth it.
“We meet some fantastic people,” she said. “Nothing makes me happier than a kid coming up and saying, ‘Boiled peanuts please.’ It brings me back to my childhood.”
Paw Paw’s Peanuts
What: Flowery Branch-based boiled peanut and pork rind stand
Where: Travels to Flowery Branch Farmers Market, Gainesville Farmers Market and Braselton Antique & Artisan Festival
More info: firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-896-5330