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Published: Saturday, September 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Go (for) nuts in Kingston

  • CB's Nuts retail tasting center is a Kingston roadside attraction that serves up hot nuts, cold beer and sandwiches.

    Quinn Brown / for the herald

    CB's Nuts retail tasting center is a Kingston roadside attraction that serves up hot nuts, cold beer and sandwiches.

  • CB's Nuts has sold 100,000 pounds of in-shell roasted peanuts so far this year.

    Andrea Brown / the herald

    CB's Nuts has sold 100,000 pounds of in-shell roasted peanuts so far this year.

  • Pistachios are among CB's Nuts lineup.

    Quinn Brown / for the herald

    Pistachios are among CB's Nuts lineup.

  • Visitors to CB's Nuts retail tasting center in Kingston like to write nutty things in the guest book.

    Quinn Brown / for the herald

    Visitors to CB's Nuts retail tasting center in Kingston like to write nutty things in the guest book.

  • CB's Nuts has sold 200,000 pounds of peanut butter so far this year. Quinn Brown

    Quinn Brown / for the herald

    CB's Nuts has sold 200,000 pounds of peanut butter so far this year. Quinn Brown

  • Peanuts are roasted daily in the antique roaster at CB's Nuts.

    Andrea Brown / the herald

    Peanuts are roasted daily in the antique roaster at CB's Nuts.

Hop a ferry and go nuts.
About five miles west of Kingston is the ultimate roadside attraction for your crunchy-zesty-salty fix.
It's a nut tasting room. For real.
At CB's Nuts, you can sample peanuts, almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts and butters. Not only that, you can buy a bag, bottle or tin to take home.
First, though, you have to find the place.
It's tucked inside a former fire station and hidden from the highway by foliage. By the time you see the little "Nut Tasting" road sign and go "What the what?" it's too late to pull in.
Still, it draws 40 to 50 customers a day.
"It's busy, considering it's a peanut tasting room," co-owner Tami Bowen said.
The name CB's stands for her nutty half, her husband and founder Clark Bowen, who was unhappy with the peanuts sold at his beloved Mariners games.
So he made his own to eat and to sell.
"When I met him he was running a peanut stand outside Safeco Field," she said.
She believed in him enough to marry him. It paid off. He turned his passion for peanuts into a nutty empire.
So far this year, CB's sales are about 65,000 pounds of pumpkin seeds, 100,000 pounds of in-shell peanuts and 200,000 pounds of peanut butter. The nuts are sold at many stores around Puget Sound and beyond. The 12-ounce bags are recognizable by a giant pop-art peanut graphic on the front of tan packaging.
Before devoting his life to goobers, Clark Bowen lived in a sailboat at the Port of Everett and ran a Snohomish County outdoor advertising sales and service business. Helium balloons, banners, giant gorillas, that kind of stuff.
"I loved peanuts as a kid. It burns inside of you. I couldn't let it go," he said.
The trigger was when he went to a ballgame in Baltimore about a dozen years ago.
"There was a gentleman who sold fresh peanuts outside. I realized I needed to try to make that happen in Washington. I got on a quest," he said.
"I did apprenticing in California in primarily Hispanic flea markets where peanuts are really a big deal, that's where I learned how. I started with a table-top roaster and soon had a larger one built. One thing led to another. It snowballed. The pumpkin seeds have gone national."
Small batches of peanuts are roasted daily in the bay that once housed Kingston fire trucks. The rest of the nut production was moved a year ago to a nearby manufacturing facility to meet demand.
The tasting store also sells deli sandwiches, ice cream and local craft beer. There's a dugout bench, red stools and a long table stocked with board games.
The couple no longer sells peanuts outside the ballfield.
"We had two babies. The Mariners stopped winning. We stopped doing that," Tami Bowen said.
Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com.

If you go
CB's Nuts is at 6013 NE State Highway 10, Kingston.
Store Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.
Peanuts are roasted daily until 2 p.m.
For more information: 360-297-1213; email contact@cbsnuts.com; or www.cbsnuts.com.
In the neighborhood: Hood Canal Brewery is a few blocks away, at 26499 Bond Road NE, Kingston. The brewery, open noon to 8 p.m. daily, sells CB's peanuts for $1 a pint.
For more information: 360-297-8316 or www.hoodcanalbrewery.com.
Nutty trivia
  • It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.
  • There are enough peanuts in one acre to make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches.
  • Four of the top 10 candy bars made in the U.S. contain peanuts or peanut butter.
  • Peanuts account for two-thirds of all snack nuts consumed in the U.S.
  • Americans spend about $800 million a year on peanut butter and consume more than 1.5 billion pounds of peanut butter and peanut products.
  • The average American consumes more than six pounds of peanuts and peanut butter products each year.
  • The average child will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before graduating from high school.
  • Astronaut Allen B. Sheppard brought a peanut with him to the moon.
  • Peanut butter was the secret behind filming "Mr. Ed," TV's talking horse. Spreading peanut butter inside the horse's mouth created a natural talking movement every time he moved his sticky jaws.
Source: www.nationalpeanutboard.org.
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