For 20 years, Eugene’s Doug Furlong was known as “The Ice Cream Man.” A food scientist by trade, Furlong helped to develop some of the most popular and familiar premium ice cream brands, from Turtle Mountain and Soy Delicious to Julie’s and Coconut Bliss. And then he turned 60. In what he calls a “watershed moment,” Furlong quit the ice cream business and traveled with his wife Kari to New Zealand for an extended vacation. What happened next, was nuts.
While on vacation, Furlong and friends got to talking about what was next for The Ice Cream Man.
“We started laughing about Doug’s Nuts – the whole thing, and it stuck in my mind. So when we did get back, I pondered it for a while,” said Furlong. “And then finally in early summer we decided we may as well do this, let’s make it happen.”
After 16 different potential recipes and a summer spent getting everything from labeling to production figured out, Doug’s Nuts hit the shelves in September 2011.
The mix is a blend of pecans, peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, cashews, and hazelnuts, united in perfect harmony with blackberry honey, maple syrup, a little salt, organic sugar, and a hit of Ninkasi’s Oatis Oatmeal Stout.
“The trick was to bring in a lot of flavor, without making candy,” said Furlong.
“I just put everything in there that I liked. I didn’t put anything in there that I didn’t like,” said Furlong. “You’re making this really big, really round flavor – and then there’s just enough salt to keep your taste buds activated. I knew the flavor profile I wanted, getting it was another thing. I think I got it.”
The three person company includes Furlong, Kari, and their business partner Lisa Bee-Wilson.They’ve set up a co-packing arrangement with Wildtime Foods where Furlong creates the wet mix and brings it to Wildtime. They mix, bake, and package the nuts.
Since the first order of 500 pounds of nuts rolled out of Wildtime, Doug’s Nuts have been poured into expectant palms at over 40 locations in Eugene alone. You can find them at Market of Choice stores, the Bijou Theater, Long’s Meat Market, Luckey’s Bar, and the Ninkasi Tasting Room, just to name a few.
For now, Furlong is still doing the occasional consulting job while working to build the future of Doug’s Nuts and indulging in his other passion of music, playing with his band Lucky Doug.
“I guess one of my prime tenets, after 60 years on the planet is you need passion in your life, and you should actively seek it out,” said Furlong.
Find Doug’s Nuts on Facebook.
Jackie Varriano is a Eugene-based writer incapable of sharing her bag of Doug’s Nuts. Keep up with her at seejackwrite.tumblr.com.