Halstead Senior Center's peppernuts enhance family gatherings all while supporting the center year after year
While smaller activities, like occasional bingo, do help the Halstead Senior Center out, it's impact isn’t even close to what baking and selling peppernuts does.
The dime-sized dough helps enhance family gatherings year-after-year, all while supporting the center's efforts.
“We do have some funding that we receive from the state and from federal levels, but really this is the one that really keeps us going," Amy Johnson, the Director of the Halstead Senior Center said.
This year's peppernuts efforts started September 13th.
“It tastes just like the ones I grew up with," Halstead resident and cookie customer Sandy Wiens said. “I got some peppernuts here, I've got five bags. I came in earlier and got five bags… I just love them. They taste like what I grew up with. I love them to be able to take them to my family gatherings."
The ladies say ‘forever’, but it's estimated about 15 years this group has baked them.
“Well my timer went off and I have to see if these are done because that’s when I get in trouble. I have to check with our chief one here…. 'are they done?' Ok… ok," Mary Jo Hall said.
Mary Jo Hall is the center's treasurer. She's also been the oven operator for about 5 years.
Some say it’s the taste, while others say it’s that snickerdoodle-like smell that has them coming back year after year.
“It just isn’t the holidays without them," Amy Johnson, the director of the Halstead Senior Center said.
So... what keeps these cookies in high-demand year-after-year?
Mary Jo also says it could be their history that keeps customers happy and returning.
From start to finish, the peppernuts' formation begins in the corner of the center's kitchen, where the dough is made. From there, it goes through a contraption to make the size of the cookies, then they go into the oven and are later bagged.
“Just keeping active at our age… I don’t know... I just enjoy it," Hall said.
It's not all just for festive fun though. It helps keeps the senior center afloat.
“This particular fundraiser is one that we are so successful with that we don’t have to have other fundraisers throughout the year. It sustains us." Johnson added. “it’s been our number 1 fundraiser and we have always met or exceeded what we were hoping to make from it."
Exceeding expectations is something the group did last year.
“We’ve had a lot of people remember our story from last year, which has been really wonderful. They've traveled from Hutchinson, from all over Kansas to make sure they came in and saw us again, and made sure to let us know that it was because they saw the story last year," Johnson said referring to KAKE News' coverage last year.
“We probably could have sold 1,000 pounds, but we pooped out," Hall said laughing.
“Last year, I don’t want to say I procrastinated, but I waited a little too long and they were all sold out, so I said 'not this year'," Wiens added.
The ladies say there is no secret to their recipe, they do recommend you call the center ahead of time to make sure they have some of these highly sought-after cookies still available.
The center's address is 523 Poplar St Halstead, KS 67056. You can reach them by phone by calling (316) 835-2283.
Last year, the ladies baked over 800-pounds of peppernuts, which brought in 2-thousand dollars more than they normally do, so it was about a $7,500 dollar year. The center hopes to do the same this year.