The congregation of Mount Olive First United Methodist Church has been cooking peanuts in their church kitchen since 1965. Since then, the operation has grown to a 15 member "Peanut Crew," and their salty, crunchy nuts are for sale in shops from New York City to Portland, and they are available in NC MADE gift boxes (of course!).
Mount Olive FUMC's peanuts shot to fame in the early 2000s when restauranteur Danny Meyer included them on the menu of his NYC barbecue restaurant, Blue Smoke. They're still available on Blue Smoke's menu as an appetizer today.
You may be wondering what makes these peanuts so special. They are made extra crunchy by a process called blister frying, which originated in eastern North Carolina. First, the peanuts are blanched, or boiled in water. Then, when they are still wet, they are dropped in a deep fryer, causing their skin to blister which gives them that addictive crunch that makes them so special.
The Peanut Crew at Mount Olive FUMC donates the proceeds from their peanut sales to various charitable causes around Mt Olive, including an educational center and scholarship named after the founder of the "Peanut Crew," Ellis Weeks. In 2013, they donated over $32,000 to charitable organizations.
Hat tip to this blog post from A Chef's Life and their interview with Martin Weeks, current head of the Peanut Crew and descendant of the crew's founder.