Austin, Texas is famous for its Longhorns, being the state capital and home of the corporate headquarters of Dell Computer and Whole Foods Market. It promotes itself as “The Live Music Capital of the World,” and even though we here in Nashville might challenge that, we wouldn’t want to mess with Texas so we won’t. 🙂
This great city is also famous for its gourmet nuts, thanks to Doron Ilai who left his native Israel to study Psychology at the University of Texas over 20 years ago. Quickly Doron became disappointed with the lack of quality nuts sold at grocery stores, which were vacuum-packed and loaded with hydrogenated oils and preservatives. Like many Mediterranean countries, Israel is filled with open markets selling all kinds of fresh foods including nuts in bulk like those pictured below.
The Psychology of Nuts
After graduating from UT, he decided to bring a Mediterranean-style nut roasting company to Texas. His parents were quite unhappy with this decision at first. His mother Cipi explains, “Doron had completed his PhD, and now he wanted to go into the nut business!”
But Doron remained focused on providing fresher tasting nuts and seeds to the local market. He returned to Israel to train with a master roaster, who later came to Austin to train the staff on kosher procedures for purchasing and roasting nuts. Then he talked his mother Cipi into working at the store for a couple of months. Over twenty years later, she still runs the store.
Nuts the Old, Old Fashioned Way
AustiNuts uses the centuries-old roasting method that is common around the Mediterranean to dry roast its product. It requires specially designed ovens from the Middle East that utilize only hot air inside their 11,000 square foot roasting facility. The nuts are roasted with water and salt and sometimes spices. They contain no added oils, additives or preservatives. Dry roasting provides a more natural flavor with a better taste that is crunchier than oil roasted nuts.
Cipi Illai says, “We have been customers of Nashville Wraps for many, many years now. Your company is THE best! Your service is THE best! We use many of your boxes, raffia, custom printed ribbon, cello bags and rolls, zip top bags and heat guns for shrink wrapping.” We really like how they make their raffia bows with a center loop and personalize their satin ribbon with their logo. Cute!
From Guitars to Armadillos
In addition to nuts, AustiNuts carries snack mixes, dried fruit, candy, gift baskets and gourmet Texas products. Their Texas Theme Baskets are highly popular, which include their Texas state tins, armadillo trays, longhorn baskets and guitar shaped containers custom made in Israel.
They have partnered with Go Texan which is sponsored by the Texas Department of Agriculture. The organization represents Texas agri-business and encourages consumers within and outside the state to purchase Texas-made products. AustinNuts sells Texas products from other businesses on their website like BBQ sauces & rubs, chili mixes, salsa, peanut brittle and more.
AustiNuts has a wholesale division which sells their products in supermarkets like H-E-B and Central Market, gift shops, airports and convenience stores. In addition to their retail storefront and nation-wide shipping through their website, they sell a few of their best-selling products on Amazon.
Texans boast of many things, and thanks to Doron’s dream and lots of help from his adorable mom (video below) they are the proud home of AustiNuts. You can hang your hat on it!