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A beverage for the season: Bremerton's butter rum
Between the holidays and the recent snow, Bremertonís-own Harveyís Butter Rum Batter is starting to sound pretty good.
At a tidy little building at 611 National Street sits the factory where the non-alcoholic batter is made. Inside a handful of employees scurry about orchestrated by 85-year-old Harvey Hudson. He owns the recipe for Harveyís Butter Rum Batter ó the only thing made at the factory.
ìWe make it better than anybody else, so we donít make anything else,î Hudson said.
Harveyís has been in business since 1960. The business used to be located on Park Avenue in Bremerton, but moved to the current location in 1972.
The recipe for the batter originated with Hudson, and is now stored in his head. He said heís had a few offers for the recipe and the company, but he isnít selling anytime soon.
ìAs long as Iím able to come down and do the job, Iím going to do it,î Hudson said. ìIt probably will become a family recipe.î
Hudson decided to start making the batter in the 1960s while he worked for The Sportsman, a bar on Bremertonís west side near PSNS. Hudson said there were very few warm, satisfying alcoholic drinks, so he began making the batter, which added to boiling water and rum, whiskey, brandy or vanilla makes Harveyís hot butter rum drink.
There are also many non-alcoholic drinks or recipes in Harveyís recipe booklet, which can be picked up at the factory on National Avenue.
Hank Matthews, an employee at Harveyís, said the batter makes the best peanut butter cookies heís ever tasted. He also suggested hot milk, Harveyís and a candy cane to stir it with.
Harveyís containers are black and yellow and have a picture of a rabbit leaning against a street lamp. Hudson said the rabbit is his trademark. It comes from the 1950 Jimmy Stewart movie ìHarvey,î a movie about an imaginary rabbit.
The factory, which constantly smells of the sweet smelling batter, includes one machine that packages the batter. At the top of the stairs an employee stirs the batter, which goes into the machine. At the bottom, the machine squeezes the batter into the plastic tubs and then puts the lid on the containers.
To the left there is an employee who catches the tubs and puts them into boxes. The process, according to Harvey, is not much different than the way he started out.
ìI guess maybe Iím getting too old to try and change our way of operation,î Hudson said. The business uses no computers.
Harvey also sells the batter at grocery stores and out of his factory. One container, at the factory, costs $1.75. Six containers cost $10.50 and a dozen go for $20. A gift set, including a container of the batter and two coffee mugs with Harveyís logo on them can also be purchased at the factory for $15. The factory on National Avenue is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
ìRight off the line ó thatís the best way to get it,î Hudson said.
How Harveyís hit the big time
Harveyís Butter Rum Batter is sold in most grocery stores, including Safeway, Albertsonís and Red Apple.
All the grocery stores distribute the batter themselves. For example, Albertsonís has a truck come from Oregon to pick up the batter, which is then taken back to a warehouse in Portland. In turn, the batter is shipped out to stores around the Pacific Northwest ó even stores only 15 miles from Bremerton. Tim McClanahan, the grocery manager of the Albertsonís on Olney Road in Port Orchard said the batter is shipped to all 125 stores in the Northwest.
Hudson said the batter used to go mostly to bars, but lately he has been sending more to grocery outlets. He attributed this to newly enforced DUI laws which may be causing more people to consume his product at home than in a bar.
Hudson said the first grocery store that sold his batter was Safeway ó still his biggest distributor.
ìWe certainly didnít expect to sell to grocery stores,î said Hudson.
Hudson said his biggest promoter is Darigold, a dairy company whose product he uses to make the batter.