Joanne Attardi’s friends, family, and client-base call her ‘Nut Lady.’
But Attardi doesn’t take offense; rather, she encourages use of the notable nickname. Attardi is the owner of Nuts 4 Nuts, an Agawam-based business selling Attardi’s own blend of baked almonds, walnuts, and pecans, coated with a light layer of cinnamon and sugar.
Business is booming for Attardi, who went full-time with her business last January, but has been making and selling bags of her unique snacks for seven years. She will head up her own seasonal store on the second floor of Tower Square this year to sell bags of nuts, gift baskets, and other products throughout the holidays, and after a sell-out appearance at the Big E, was invited to appear at a holiday show in Boston at the Bayside Expo.
In addition to steady sales and constantly evolving marketing plans, though, Attardi has also created a niche for herself among health-conscious shoppers in search of a snack that will meet certain dietary needs.
Attardi developed a sugar-free, low-carbohydrate nut recipe earlier this year that has exploded in the Western Mass. market, and beyond. The nuts are made with Splenda, a sugar substitute that has been approved for use by the American Diabetes Assoc., and have become one of Attardi’s best sellers — safe for low-carb dieters, diabetics, and others watching what they eat.
Attardi pointed out that even her original nut recipe is a healthy one, though; the snack qualifies as a safe food for individuals on gluten-free diets, due to allergies to wheat or other grains. Her nuts are also baked rather than roasted, which she said ‘seals in’ the nutrients of the nuts, including calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, which are recommended for heart health, and protein.
“They are also softer than roasted nuts, so they are safer for your teeth, and they contain no syrup, honey, or butter,” she said.
Attardi’s Web site, www.nuts4nuts.biz, also includes a ‘Nutty Nutrition’ section that highlights some of the other health benefits of nuts.
“I really hit on a winner here,” she said of her product. “It’s a lot of hard work to make them, market them, and sell them. But it is also rewarding to watch them sell themselves. People take a free sample, and a minute later they’re selling them for me, showing them to friends and family.”
To date, Nuts 4 Nuts snacks have been shipped as far as Iraq, as gifts for servicemen and women, and have become a staple in several local stores as well.
Attardi said opening her own store year-round is not a primary goal, though she does hope to rival some recognizable names in the food and baking industry in the coming years.
“Look out, Mrs. Fields,” she jokes. “I’m taking this business to the moon.”
Jaclyn C. Stevenson