Based on a concept that has been popular in Bavaria, Germany for over 100 years, The Nutty Bavarian has modernized the classic concept of nuts cooked in a copper kettle over a charcoal fire. David Brent, owner of The Nutty Bavarian, took that tradition, brought it to the United States and automated it, so that it could be done simply and easily indoors. The company’s machines can make fresh roasted, delicious, candy nut product that has a fantastic smell, allows for excellent visual presentation in a kiosk environment, and is completely automated.
An actual rocket scientist with a Master’s Degree in aeronautical engineering from MIT, Brent worked for NASA for five years before the opportunity arose to work for himself by getting into his current business in 1994. Taking over an already existing company, he started making his own machines, applying American ingenuity to an Old World recipe. “Another company out of Michigan started doing it with German machines,” explains Brent. “But we’re the only company selling the product that’s also manufacturing the machines for it. The other companies doing this are doing it on the German model, with the big German machine that’s very hard to use. You’re going to see us indoors in kiosks. You’re not really going to see the German machines indoors, because they’re so much bigger and bulkier. You’re going to see them outdoors at fairs and festivals.”
The product and the machines themselves are very new to most people, and this was especially true in the beginning. People had to come and taste it before they were sold on it. Brent points out that the pleasing smell makes people want to come over and check it out. Then, after they’re given a sample, they’re completely hooked. That’s how Brent succeeded in his first location, and once he started building his own machines in 1998, automating the process and taking it indoors, it really started to grow. But all along, he had to fight the fact that nobody knew what it was, since it was a new product to the country.
“It’s been a challenge, because since people didn’t know what it was, they wouldn’t be interested in doing it. They had to see it to want to do it, and to try it themselves. They had to go to one of our locations and see that this was something they could do. We used to sell maybe 20 or 30 machines a year, but as we’ve grown, there are more locations out there that people are seeing. Now we’re doing some trade shows and we’re selling 250 machines a year.”
One of the benefits of The Nutty Bavarian machines is that retailers can be selling many other items at the same time, because you don’t have to stand over it and watch. It’s automated, with temperature sensors built in, and a computer controller that automatically cooks the nuts the right way. Candy nuts can only be made at one temperature, the melting point of sugar, so the temperature must be controlled so that it comes right up to that point and is held right there.
“In the old days, the guy manning the machine used to go turn down the fire when it got there,” says Brent. “We have a computer that’s controlling the temperature and holds it right at the melting point of sugar, and then a built-in timer, which is pretty simple. This makes it automated, so that someone can talk to customers and not have to watch the nuts, but know that they’ll come out perfect every single time. They won’t ever burn a batch. That’s what made it work. You don’t have to be a trained craftsman to make this candy, or a trained candy-maker. You can learn how to make nuts in 15 minutes.” Brent originally envisioned his machines going into sports stadiums and theme parks, but it was actually one of his customers who came to him with the idea of putting it in a mall, and then did so successfully. Once it did well there for one person, other people starting doing the same thing. Today, The Nutty Bavarian machines are featured mainly as kiosk venues at shopping malls.
“People want things that are made fresh now,” says Brent. “Consumers in America want quality. Cinnabon came out, and they were making cinnamon buns right there, and they smelled fantastic. They did well with that. The pretzel company, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, started making pretzels outside, as opposed to the old frozen-pretzel-in-an-oven model, and that just took off. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory turned to caramel candy machines, and now they’re dipping apples in chocolate, which is a lot more labor intensive, but that’s how they’re making their money now, making the stuff right in front of the customers.”
“We’ve made it idiot proof,” Brent continues. “You don’t have to watch it, you don’t have to time it. It’s all very simple. And it’s small, as opposed to a big operation with a big investment. It’s a very small investment to buy one of these machines, almost like popcorn. It’s as simple as one of those popcorn poppers. In fact, it’s even easier because it’s easier to clean. It’s smaller, and easier to operate as well, but it’s the same idea. Popping popcorn in front of people works. The problem is, everybody pops popcorn. Our advantage is, very few people are still selling nuts. We’ve got about 1,000 locations, but I can tell we could easily have 10,000 locations.”
For more information:
The Nutty Bavarian
305 Hickman Drive
Sanford, FL 32771
Tel: 800-382-4788, 407-444-6322