Theresa, owner of Adams Apple Eatables in Lexington, SC, upon meeting, is as familiar as the neighbor next door as she chats about how she got to this place and her love for not just apple butter, but what the giving and receiving, oh, and the eating of it, does for the soul.
Upon meeting her, Theresa warms your heart like a piece of hot apple pie fresh from the oven with her smile all the while, chatting about her love for apples, and cinnamon, and the journey therein. It is her dream that drives her entrepreneurial spirit to redeem this beloved fruit into more than just a jar of apple butter. It is sweet, cinnamon-sass, and the neighbor next door all wrapped in a smartly dressed glass jar with a vintage plaid label, coordinating gift box/bag, complete with twine, and a signature Adams Apple wooden spoon.
It is a far cry from Theresa’s first encounter with apple butter. She recalls that “Apple Aha!” entrepreneurial moment while watching her aunt and uncle’s family make apple butter in a giant copper kettle over a fire at their farm in rural Illinois. They used an oversized wooden paddle to cook down the apples and mix in bags of sugar bigger than her 6 year old self. The business end of it was watching this sweet, dark yumminess packaged and sold for money at the Mennonite Relief Sale in Peoria, Illinois.
Theresa, daughter of a career Navy father and a music teacher mother, was born in Maine. She managed to change the family landscape for her older sister, Tina, who, at the time of this article is most thankful for and proud of her little sister and talks as often as she can with her. Life is life, often beyond our understanding, and 5 year old Theresa, along with her father and sister, moved to Illinois to be close to their grandparents after losing her mother to cancer.
“My grandmother seemed to live in the kitchen. When she finished preparing breakfast, she was on to preparing lunch, then baking yeast rolls every evening for ‘supper’. Apple pies were frequently on the menu, and I remember coming home from kindergarten every day where Grandma would have sliced apple and Ritz crackers with cream cheese. It’s funny that now my favorite way to eat apple butter is on a Ritz cracker with cream cheese.” She also says “one of Grandma’s ways of showing love to her family was by cooking. She definitely instilled that in me, because there is so much joy in what I do. No one is ever upset because they received a jar of apple butter.”
Theresa began trying her hand at making apple butter while in college as an inexpensive way to give gifts to family and friends. Little did she know that a few years later, she would meet this “really good-looking guy who swept me off my feet. And wouldn’t you know it, his last name was Adams.” They married, and Theresa continued to make apple butter every Christmas, changing the recipe over the years until she got it “just where she wanted it”. Adams Apple Butter was born. After twenty years of gifting her Adams Apple Butter, she tried selling it one Christmas as a fundraiser for her youngest son to go on a student ambassador trip. “Friends, family, and even strangers were so supportive that I quickly sold out and had to make another batch”, Theresa says. “I had so many people tell me it was the best apple butter they’d ever had, and that I should make a business of it.” After winning a blue ribbon for her apple butter at the SC State Fair in 2014, she began the painstaking process of getting samples tested, finding a DHEC approved kitchen, passing inspection, doing proper labeling with nutritional facts and ingredients, all while buying 80 pounds of apples for each batch, peeling, cooking, and canning from morning till night.
After a successful first “official” holiday season in 2014, she quickly realized that changes would need to take place in 2015 in order for the business to succeed. Her time would be better spent using her marketing background to grow the business instead of spending countless hours making the product. She now has her product manufactured, using her very own recipe she’s developed over the years. She also introduced Adams Apple Pie Jam in the fall of 2015, Adams Apple Cranberry Butter in the fall of 2016, Adams Apple Pumpkin Butter in 2017, and 5 more products in 2018, all with an element of apple, of course. Theresa says “I’d love to see a line of ‘Adams Apple’ products in specialty stores across the country.” Her products can be found at a growing list of stores in the Midlands in South Carolina and around the country.
She hopes that everyone who tastes her products will say what so many customers have already said….”it tastes like memories”.