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From a tiny peanut

The gray clapboard shop with red shutters and trim on Route 17 at Hayes is where Whitley’s Peanut Factory began in July 1986. The original shop is still in business, now with locations in Williamsburg and Richmond added.

The company is still cooking its peanuts and peanut confections, plus cashews and almonds, by hand, using the same recipe the Smith family used at home.

One may wonder why a Southampton family would start a business in Gloucester County. Their native land is noted to be “peanut and pork country” and is just a couple of football fields away from Sussex County where the first commercial peanut crop in Virginia was grown. Scott explains, “We had an uncle who lived in Gloucester whom we visited often. Dad (Marion Smith) noted the heavy north and south traffic on Route 17, thus Hayes was the site selected.”

Gregg Smith and his father operated the shop at Hayes, cooking the peanuts in a one small-batch roaster, adding more roasters as busines...

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