Our Story


Ever wonder what's behind the success of America's Favorite Nuts? It's a story that begins with a lot of the attention to freshness, quality and detail that started way back in 1937. That's when Arlo Shirk and his father Edward G. Shirk purchased a small confectionery store in downtown Bloomington, Illinois and with it, the recipe for a special glazed peanut.

 

  • 1937: Arlo Shirk and his father Edward purchase the Caramel Crisp Shop in Bloomington, IL.  Caramel apples, caramel corn, orange drink - but especially the "redskin" peanuts - kept the customers coming.

 

  • 1950: Russell Shirk (brother of Arlo) packaged the first bag of Redskins for a local liquor store and called them "Shirk's Glazed Peanuts". Charles Schulz introduces the "Peanuts" comic strip.  Coincidence? Perhaps.

 

  • 1953: Russell Shirk and Eldridge Brewster, a local distributor, teamed up and christen the product BEER NUTS, a name that will become an American classic.

 

  • 1960: From coast to coast and even in Alaska and Hawaii, you can get your hands on a tasty bag of BEER NUTS.  We're everywhere.

 

  • 1972: BEER NUTS Cashews are an instant success.  In fact, President Nixon makes a visit to Communist China and meets with Mao Zedong - and we have unconfirmed reports that the cashews are included in the traditional exchange of gifts.

 

  • 1986: Nintendo® video games introduced in the U.S., giving Americans an alternative to watching "The A-Team".  Thankfully, snacking on BEER NUTS works for both.

 

  • 1988: BEER NUTS introduces Almonds and television ownership in America jumps to 98%.  Seems we know what America's noshing on while watching TV.

 

  • 1994: There is no World Series as major league baseball players strike.  Snackers everywhere are furious.

 

  • 2002: New Packaging hits the shelves and creates an uproar. The design is so popular that people begin trading in their Beanie Babies® and scouring eBay™ to replenish their nut stashes.

 

  • 2006: BEER NUTS introduces Bar Mix - an idea we can't believe we didn't come up with sooner.  We thought about a money back guarantee, but the mix is so good it's simply not necessary.

 

  • 2008: Party Mix hits the shelves and the chocolate gems and yogurt raisins combined with BEER NUTS Original Peanuts is a ridiculously perfect combination of salty and sweet.

 

 

 

 

Called the Caramel Crisp Shop, the business sold glazed nuts, popcorn, peanut brittle, caramel apples, and orange drink. The ancestors of today's BEER NUTS Peanuts were known as "Redskins" because they were prepared with their red skins intact.

 

They were processed by hand in the back room of the store and sold over-the-counter by the scoop. "Redskins" were occasionally offered at no charge to entice patrons to buy the homemade orange drink. In 1940, at age 22, Edward Shirk's son, Russell, returned to Bloomington following his brothers untimely death, to help manage the Caramel Crisp Shop. A stickler for quality, Russell personally monitored how every item in the store was prepared and served. Each item had to be fresh, of the finest ingredients, and prepared and served with pride. The popular redskin peanut was destined to one day become a national favorite.

 

In the early 1950's, the Shirks occasionally packaged "Redskins" for the National Liquor Stores in Bloomington. The product sold well under the label "Shirk's Glazed Peanuts." It was this small start and the persistence of Eldridge C. Brewster, a local potato chip and food distributor and a customer and supplier of the Caramel Crisp Shop, that got things going. Shirk and Brewster teamed up as manufacturer and distributor to see how the product would sell, the first target being taverns and bars in the nearby community and surrounding areas. It was then that the product was officially dubbed "BEER NUTS" Peanuts and the now well known trademark was registered.

 

While Shirk produced the product in the basement at a new Caramel Crisp Shop location during off hours, Brewster began achieving market penetration through his potato chip distribution in Central Illinois. In a matter of months the product was available in Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Indianapolis.

 

Today, BEER NUTS, Inc. continues to use the same unique formula for its special niche of products as they did back in 1937. All BEER NUTS products are produced at a single 100,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Bloomington, Illinois, under the direction of James A. Shirk and his family, the next generation of Shirks. With the same family commitment to freshness and quality 60 years later, the family takes pride in the fact that the BEER NUTS trademark brings smiles and instant recognition in all 50 states and several countries around the world.