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Harvey’s Hot Butter Rum Batter


Annually round Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Yr’s, Harvey Hudson, a former bartender on the Sportsman Lounge in Bremerton, would discover his common clients change their normal drink orders and ask for cocktails suffused with scorching butter rum batter.

A wealthy and refrigerated nonalcoholic concoction of sugar, butter, spices (typically nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves), and typically molasses, scorching butter rum batter was grainy and barely mealy when scooped by the teaspoonful, however dissolved when dropped into scorching rum, brandy, or cider. This esculent’s lineage traced again to the 17th century, when Colonialists drank it for its style and taste, but in addition for what was believed to be elixir-like qualities that would treatment flus and colds.

Throughout Hudson’s time, it was an ideal completely satisfied hour potable that comfortingly blossomed and warmed like an inner fireside, thawing from the within out the purchasers who consumed it — specifically, shipyard staff who crowded into the Sportsman Lounge at 5 p.m. every weekday after spending lengthy hours on the docks enduring chilling temperatures.

Nonetheless, Hudson believed the batter might be improved.


Harvey Hudson in his Bremerton butter rum batter manufacturing unit. Photograph Courtesy Harvey’s Hot Buttered Rum

In response to legend, one night in 1952, he was at residence in his kitchen when he determined to experiment with a brand new recipe, one thing he might add to the lounge’s choices.

Hudson didn’t have any culinary expertise, however he was ever resourceful when it got here to creating new enterprise alternatives for himself.

Born in 1916 in Pine, Idaho, a small city roughly 95 miles east of Boise and tucked into the Sawtooth Nationwide Forest’s pleated foothills, Hudson married Mildred Prepare dinner in 1938 and the couple moved to Bremerton in 1942 to start out a household, which grew to incorporate two sons — Michael and Dennis — and two daughters, Lynn and Jill.

Hudson labored an assortment of jobs to help the family. He earned $75 per week as a silk spotter at Callow Cleaners. He opened Grasp Hatters, a millinery that made and mended hats. He tended bar on the Roundtable Membership, Melody Lane, and the Sportsman Lounge. He bought advertisements for The Bremerton Solar.

However it was Hudson’s determination to create his personal DIY scorching butter rum batter that might show to be his most vital profession transfer. When he first provided it to his clients, the raving response was speedy. How he improved the batter — what mixture of spices, sugar, and butter he settled on — remained a cipher; his household claimed the key ingredient was Hudson’s personal sweetness. Regardless of the case, the recipe proved to be in style, and clients requested whether or not Hudson might make some additional batches of batter so they might purchase it immediately from him and take it residence.

“When I was very little, I would watch him mix it on our kitchen counter and fill containers by hand,” Jill Giddings, Hudson’s youngest daughter, recalled. “He kept working on the combination of spices, butter, and sugar until he came up with something he liked. It was a little more flavorful, and people seemed to like it.”

When I was very little, I would watch him mix it on our kitchen counter and fill containers by hand.”

By 1960, the enterprise was doing very nicely, and Hudson wanted someplace aside from his residence kitchen or the bar to supply the batter. He struck a enterprise cope with the operators of the native Darigold plant: He might produce the batter after hours when the plant wasn’t in operation; in return, Darigold would distribute it to clients alongside its milk supply routes and share the income.

That labored for the subsequent 12 years, till Hudson employed a contractor to construct a customized manufacturing facility, and Hudson took over full management of the manufacturing and distribution of Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter.

These 12-ounce iconic gold-and-black tubs with the model’s identify in Olde English script, and lids that when depicted Hudson’s face hovering above his personal copyrighted picture of a rabbit leaning towards a lamp publish (a reference to the 1950 film starring Jimmy Stewart, whose character befriends an unseen and imaginary rabbit; Hudson was an enormous fan of the movie), would ultimately populate the cabinets of Albertsons, Safeway, QFC, and different grocery shops all through Washington, Oregon, Northern California, and Colorado each fall and winter, typically crowding out rivals similar to Dealer Vic’s, Reser’s, and Collins.

The seasonal enterprise did properly for Hudson, and it was an enterprise that introduced the household nearer collectively. Through the years, it was widespread to seek out Hudson’s spouse, youngsters, and different family members working alongside each other on the plant. By 2011, the yr Hudson died at age 94, the corporate produced 100,000 containers.

However Hudson’s dying crystallized a side of the enterprise that his household all the time knew — the corporate’s success and recognition have been tied on to its eponymous founder. Hudson, who outlived his spouse, labored on the plant proper up till his demise. It might take somebody with as a lot enterprise savvy and power to step up and proceed the household enterprise.

At first, Giddings and her siblings thought-about taking up, however realized they have been both nearing retirement of their very own or had their very own busy lives.

The household determined to promote the enterprise.



“It was extremely difficult because we knew it was Dad’s baby,” Giddings defined. “He was so proud of it. We just decided we couldn’t do it justice. In order to really make it, the business needed somebody who understood more about retail and the development of a company.”

Enter Stacy Ryan, a businesswoman who, alongside together with her husband, Scott McBride, operated greater than a dozen Hallmark Card shops within the Puget Sound area. Ryan needed to deliver her merchandising and customer support expertise to a brand new line of enterprise together with the assistance of her husband.

She was born and raised in Bremerton, and her grandmother and uncle previously labored on the Darigold plant the place Hudson initially produced his butter rum batter after hours. “I remember meeting him years and years ago,” Ryan recalled in her workplace on the Bremerton plant, a plain brick constructing painted the identical gold colour because the butter rum tubs. “I didn’t know him, but I remember my mom taking me up to the plant. They were getting ready to have a Christmas party or something, and they wanted to have hot butter rum.”

“We really liked Stacy and Scott,” Giddings stated. “They were hometown people who had grown up with Harvey’s in their lives. They were enthusiastic about the business, and we could see that they had a vision about how it should grow, how it could take off.”

On Dec. 2, 2011, Hudson’s youngsters bought the enterprise to Ryan.

“I remember thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh. I just don’t want to screw this up!’” Ryan stated. “I mean, it has such a history. People know (the product), and they have a story. They remember Harvey’s from family get-togethers. They talk about sneaking spoonfuls. They just know and love the flavor, the iconic look of the tubs. I thought, ‘I don’t want to do anything to take away from that.’”

Within the 5½ years since Ryan bought the corporate, the batter hasn’t modified, however the enterprise mannequin has.

In 2012, the corporate provided two merchandise (32-ounce and 11-ounce tubs of Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter) and produced it between August and January.

Ryan needed the enterprise to function year-round, so she launched strains of butter rum scorching chocolate and frappé mixes, in addition to bottled drink syrup.

Harvey'sIn 2014, Ryan bought Little River Sweet Firm, a Wenatchee-based enterprise that produced sweet popcorn. At this time, the Bremerton plant operates year-round and produces kettle corn, toffee and white cheddar popcorn, and butter rum toffee popcorn beneath the Harvey’s model and label.

Two years later, she acquired Sequim-based Casey’s Kettle Corn, and moved its manufacturing to Bremerton. A lot of the popcorn merchandise are bought in True Worth and Ace Hardware shops, in addition to grocery shops all through a lot of the Western United States.

The corporate additionally sells its merchandise on to shoppers via its web site.

Ryan additionally has labored to let individuals know the butter rum batter can be utilized for extra than simply to place a spicy kick into scorching cocktails. The corporate produces a butter rum batter cheesecake that’s bought solely on the Admiral Theatre in Bremerton. The batter can be used to organize glazed hams, Caribbean-style shrimp, baked beans, pork tenderloin, potato casserole, spinach salads, and crème brulee. Loopy Eric’s Drive-In simply down the road makes milkshakes utilizing the batter.

The corporate has grown, however it’s nonetheless very a lot a family-centered enterprise with 5 staff. What seems to be a small operation inside a nondescript Bremerton constructing is actually a manufacturing powerhouse. Final yr, the corporate used about 50,000 kilos of butter, 70,000 kilos of sugar, and produced greater than 40 tons of Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter.

“If you laid out just the 11-ounce tubs we filled during the month of October, and put them side by side, they would (span) 6.7 miles.”

Giddings stated she is happy her household bought Hudson’s enterprise to Ryan, who shares a variety of the identical qualities as her father. “He was serious about business,” Giddings defined. “He was extremely trusting. He had really high standards, and he conducted himself with great respect for others and the community.” 



Entrepreneur Stacy Ryan went from working a line of Hallmark Card shops to proudly owning Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter, a legacy enterprise in Bremerton that dates again almost 70 years. She shared some fast and sensible ideas for native enterprise professionals.


Q: What’s the single greatest piece of enterprise recommendation you’d supply somebody who needs to take care of and develop a legacy enterprise?
A: I feel this can be very essential when you’ve got a legacy enterprise to have comparable core values.

Q: For people who find themselves impressed to show their home-made recipe right into a thriving enterprise, what are one or two key issues they should know?
A: It’s plenty of work, so know that getting into. Success comes whenever you step out of your consolation zone. The one factor that often will get in your means is oftentimes your self.

Q: What’s one distinction and one similarity between proudly owning a Hallmark Card retailer and proudly owning Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter?
A: In no matter you do, it’s essential to have a imaginative and prescient for that specific enterprise, and you’ll want to maintain on to the core values that information you. The most important distinction between the Hallmark outlets and Harvey’s is the cardboard outlets have been retail and Harvey’s is a wholesale enterprise, so there’s a very giant distribution element to study.



Harvey’s Peanut Butter Balls

Harvey’s and peanut butter make an excellent pairing. Prime with wealthy darkish chocolate and you’ve got a scrumptious deal with.

  • half cup  Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter barely softened
  • half cup + 2 Tbsp. crunchy fashion peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/four cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2  lb. darkish chocolate soften in double broiler, stirring till clean
  1. In medium measurement bowl, mix all components besides chocolate.
  2. Combine by hand till utterly mixed. Combination could seem slightly dry, however warmth from arms will assist them stick collectively when rolling into balls.
  3. Take small items of filling and roll into small balls. you must have sufficient for 28-30 chew measurement balls.
  4. Dip balls into melted chocolate and place on Silpat or parchment to set. To completely set will take a number of hours or you’ll be able to refrigerate to hurry up the method.

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