By Nicole Heubusch & Nicole Schoen
After living in Florida for most of our lives, we discovered that we really haven’t seen all that our area has to offer. Armed with different Goupons and Living Social certificates, we’ve decided to visit as many different local places we can. We hope some of the places we go will be of interest to you, and inspire you to do some discovering of your own. If you know of a great local place that you want to see featured, e-mail nicoleh@osprey observer.com. Nicole Heubusch is the main author with Nicole Schoen’s additions in italics.
This month we visited Clearwater’s own brownie factory. Barry’s Gourmet Brownies has only been established for 17 months, but is quickly becoming a household name in the dessert department. It started out as a one man operation in Barry Wax’s kitchen. Wax used his secret recipe to make brownies for friends and family, and eventually he was invited to participate in MOSI’s Taste of Chocolate event.
With his brownies quickly rising to fame, Wax sold his recipe to his good friend Doug Byrd, and since then the company has snowballed. It has grown from just a few people to about 100 working in both the office and the factory. The location in Clearwater is home to both the office and freezers, and once the brownies are baked and packed at the factory down the street, they are sent to the office for shipping. There are three freezers at the office, one is 30 degrees, one is 50 degrees and one is 0 degrees.
When you walk into the 0 degrees cooler, every part of your body is immediately freezing. I don’t think this Florida girl has ever been anywhere that cold before.
These freezers hold the brownies until they are ready to ship. The brownies are made fresh, and have a very long shelf life. If kept in the pantry, the brownies are good for 90 days. If kept in the fridge they are good for six months, and if kept frozen they will last nine months, and then an additional 60 days after they are taken out of the freezer.
They can ship anywhere in the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Their gift boxes start out at $8.99
and go up to $34.95 depending on size and assortment.
I know what I’m getting people this holiday season.
The factory itself is a sight to see. There are different stations set up with workers using precision to complete their tasks. There is the batter station where ingredients are put together and mixed then spread carefully into a pan, with chocolate chips sprinkled on top. It’s baked, then cut into either two or four ounce brownies, then packaged.
There were so many ovens full of trays of brownies, it was incredible. The smell as soon as you walk into the bakery was so delicious, I’m pretty sure I was getting a sugar rush just from walking around.
You can get two or four ounce brownies, single layered, in the original double chocolate, raspberry, peanut butter or salty caramel. There is also a blondie, turtle and some double and triple layer brownies in the works.
I suggest heating them up for a few seconds in the microwave. Warm and gooey is the way to eat them.
Barry’s Gourmet Brownies is also focusing on its local ties.
“We love being in the community. It’s great that our company has grown and we have been able to provide jobs and health benefits to the employees. Some of them didn’t have either,” said President and CEO Doug Byrd. They’ve helped out a lot in the community donating brownies to homeless shelters, and they recently invited a special needs class to come and help in the factory.
Barry’s Gourmet Brownies have taken the world by storm. They are popping up at different events all over the United States including the recent Emmy’s. They were even named a finalist in the snacks and sweets category of CSP Magazine’s 2014 best new product contest.
They are sold at a few local restaurants, grocery retailers and convenience stores as well like Jackson’s Bistro and Forest Hills Grocery in Tampa.
For more information, visit www.barrysgourmetbrownies.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 727-0400-4753.