Wingnutz Nut Haus
As a tourist destination, Cape May is home to plenty of retail establishments, from gift and souvenir shops to apparel stores and beach supply venues. And while quite a few of them have some degree of specialization, very few are as categorically distinct as those under the Cape Island Foods family of businesses. From Cape May (and also Smithville) Peanut Butter Companies to Spice Cellar, Cape May Olive Oil Company and The Cheese Shop & Cape May Creamery, each of the Cape Island Foods venues fills a specific void, and each has been met with resounding success—by now, just about every Cape May local and tourist knows that if there’s a type of specialty food they want, the Cape Island Foods family of stores is their answer.
Wingnutz Nut Haus is no exception.
Opened in September of 2019, just a short time before the Covid outbreak caused a worldwide shutdown, Wingnutz Nut Haus occupies a prime location—right next to Cape May Brewery at the Cape May Airport complex. Like many businesses that opened during that period, their first-year experience wasn’t the one that they anticipated.
“It didn’t have a chance to get its legs under it for almost a whole year,” says Amanda Marriner, CFO of Cape Island Foods. “I think we’re just now seeing some of the repeat customers that we’ve gained in that first real year from 2021 to 2022.”
And while Wingnutz first appealed to some of those early customers by way of Cape May Brewery—where they ended up getting hungry and grabbing some snacks at Wingnutz—the place has become its own must-visit stop.
“I think that maybe when we first opened, we got a lot of the overflow from the brewery, but it’s beginning to develop its own little following,” says Marriner. “I hear a lot of comments now from people who say ‘oh, we stop here every year’ or ‘I have to come here to get my peanut butter.’ So, it’s beginning to become a little bit of a destination of its own.”
The shop includes a perimeter stocked full of jarred nuts, peanut butters, and other retail items with a counter area that houses warmed snacks in heated displays. With a kitchen in the back, Wingnutz almost always has customers meandering about, commenting on the amazing smells of roasted nuts, popcorn, or even the biscotti made on the premises.
A foodie destination
As the name implies, Wingnutz Nut Haus sells a lot of nuts. Utilizing a traditional Bavarian-style nut roaster, Wingnutz roasts and prepares different types of nuts in an enormous variety of both sweet and savory flavors that include everything from spicy ranch and dill pickle to sweet onion, candied coconut, chocolate dusted, cheddar, smoked, salted, and many more.
But it’s not all nuts.
“There’s more than meets the eye here,” says Carl Spatocco, who rolled out the first Cape Island Foods venture, Cape May Olive Oil Co., over 10 years ago. “[Wingnutz] is a small shop. Most of the product that is sold in that shop is made by Cape Island Foods at one place or another. A lot of our other shops have a mixture of things we make and things we buy, but Wingnutz is primarily stuff that we make from all our different companies.”
In addition to carrying several peanut butters from Cape May Peanut Butter Company—available here so that people don’t have to head into Cape May proper in the middle of the busiest season for their PB&J ingredients—Wingnutz uses many of the spices available at Spice Cellar to season nuts and add to recipes. There is a fair amount of cross-promotion within the multiple stores that benefits customers and Cape Island Foods alike. What’s more, most of the Wingnutz options are grab-and-go, perfect for heading into—or out of—the brewery next door or Cape May itself.
Besides nuts and popcorn, the store has a variety of pre-made sandwiches—including the kid-friendly peanut butter and jelly on banana bread sandwich—as well as Kolaches, traditional Czechoslovakian-style hand-held snacks that are almost like mini-calzones.
“You have a savory style dough on the outside and you can fill it with any type of filling that you’d like,” says Marriner of the Kolaches. “They’re very big in Texas but they’re primarily sweet there, filled with maybe cream cheese or perhaps a cherry filling like a Danish. We have savory versions filled with kielbasa and cheddar; a taco version with ground beef, taco seasoning and a little bit of cheddar; a buffalo chicken Kolache; and an Italian sausage one.”
The Kolaches probably wouldn’t be considered a full meal—but by mixing and matching a few of them with a jar of nuts or a big bag of freshly packed corn, customers have a substantial snack that doesn’t require any plates or utensils. The same can be said for other options at Wingnutz, including Philly soft pretzels and—our personal must-have item—ice cream smashwiches.
“The smashwiches are homemade ice cream sandwiches made with two peanut butter cookies filled with peanut butter ice cream,” says Marriner. These are available only with their original ice cream flavor (peanut butter) but a few different ice cream flavors are also made on the premises, including chocolate peanut butter and peanut butter ripple.
Order it online, or take it to go
Plenty of customers pop into Wingnutz Nut Haus for things they’ll need that day or week, or to grab a variety of delicious homemade tidbits to bring to the beach or brewery—even house-made dog cookies are available, so your four-legged friend doesn’t miss out. But there’s no disputing the fact that Wingnutz has some serious potential as a holiday shopping venue.
“Our online orders pick up across the board around the holidays, but nuts are a kind of traditional holiday gift offering, so we see that a bit, too,” says Marriner.
From four-pound variety trays of different flavored nuts to house-made candies, hot cocoa and soup mixes, and scrumptious popcorn flavors, there’s something for every foodie in your life at Wingnutz.