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Andrew Kincheloe never outgrew his childhood obsession with peanut butter. Called “Buddy” by his mom, he has created a grown-up peanut butter for the kid in every adult.

His Buddy’s Small Batch Nut Butter, in three varieties, is crafted from non-GMO peanuts, sea salt and additions of Minnesota honey or free-trade chocolate, organic raisins and cinnamon. Each variety serves up a fine balance of sweet and salty flavors, a slightly chunky texture, and smacks of fresh peanut taste.

Kincheloe founded his company shortly after graduating from the University of St. Thomas with a B.A. in entrepreneurship. His tiny apartment initially was headquarters for R&D, executed with a small food processor and support from friends and relatives.

“We hunted for the freshest peanuts and sourced them from a farmer co-op in North Carolina. Through trial and error, we hit the right consistency — crunchy, not lumpy, or too smooth. We tried leaving the oil out, but ended up with a hard, solid mass, then added a little non-GMO peanut oil,” he said. “We threw a lot of batches out.”

Kincheloe tested the products that first summer by sampling them at the Minneapolis Farmers Market and chatting with shoppers about what they liked.

His day job? Stints at Chipotle rolling burritos and at Whole Foods, stocking shelves.

“I saw firsthand how products are distributed, merchandised and displayed,” he said.

For the first two years, Buddy’s was produced in Minneapolis, where Kincheloe and his staff of three ground out enough peanut butter to fill 600 jars weekly. Recently the production facility moved to larger space in California to meet increasing demand. A newly hired sales force has placed Buddy’s in 500 Midwest stores.

Once you’ve got the peanut butter in the kitchen, Kincheloe suggests storing the unopened container upside down.

“As a kid, I hated having to stir up the natural peanut butter my mom kept in the refrigerator,” he said.

But if the jar is upside down, the oil moves back through the mix, he said, noting this works only when the jar of Buddy’s has never been opened (or the oil will seep out).

The typical recommendation for natural peanut butters is to refrigerate them. But Kincheloe takes a different approach.

“Not necessary,” he said. “The peanut butter is stable for at least nine months. Refrigeration is a marketing ploy that gives the company more shelf space. It really doesn’t keep it fresh.”

Buddy’s Small Batch Peanut Butter is adding more products: unsweetened, organic peanut butter blended with coconut oil “for a touch of natural sweetness,” and an unsweetened vanilla, with fair-trade vanilla bean from Madagascar.

All products will also be available in single-serve snack packs (Little Buddy’s), along with the 16-ounce jars.

Widely available in grocery stores and co-ops throughout the Midwest. About $5.99 for a 16-ounce jar.

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