Almonds from Escalon fuel NASCAR driver

Central California 

Published 4/12/17
Modesto Bee
BY JOHN HOLLAND

A longtime almond processor has launched a snack label aimed in part at motorsports fans. And it is sponsoring a stock car racer who is among the rising stars.

Nut Up, an offshoot of the Roche family’s four-generation business, has 10 flavors of chopped almonds in 1.5-ounce bags available at many grocery stores. It is promoting them with the help of Dylan Lupton, a Sacramento-area product racing on the NASCAR Xfinity circuit this year.

He said by phone Thursday that the nuts are part of a healthy diet that helps him endure the rigors of his sport, including 130-degree-plus temperatures inside his fireproof suit.

“These NASCAR races are pretty grueling,” Lupton said. “You have to be very conscious of what you fuel your body with.”

The Nut Up logo on his suit and car will be the most prominent among his sponsors for at least some of this year’s races, he said. Nut Up also is working with motocross and other motorcycling events.

The new products come from Roche Brothers International Family Nut Co., on Jones Road east of Escalon. President Joey Roche, who long has supported motorsports, partnered on the venture with almond broker Brad Klump.

“In the racing community, there’s not a lot of healthy snacks, so the kids need it,” Roche said during a tour of the plant Wednesday.

Roche Brothers employs about 140 people year-round at the plant and in the orchards. Most of its 20 million or so pounds of annual volume is basic products for the world market. A small part goes to Nut Up, the company’s first retail brand.

The almonds come in garlic-parmesan, ranch, lemon, barbecue, cinnamon toast, salted caramel, Caribbean jerk and a few other choices.

Nut Up also has almond butter in plain, salted caramel and cinnamon toast versions, along with almond flour and meal for cooking.

The products are at Save Mart, Food Maxx, Cost Less, O’Brien’s and a few other grocers. In-Shape fitness centers around the state sell them. So do the Ace hardware stores in Escalon and Oakdale, and the Menard’s hardware chain in the Midwest.

The nuts can be bought online at www.nutupindustries.com.

The sweet ones can be an ice cream topping and the savory ones can go on salads, Operations Manager Haily Azevedo said on the tour. She also suggested rubbing Caribbean jerk almonds onto chicken.

Or, the snack bags can just be part of the meal plan for a family headed to the racetrack.

“We needed to get the younger kids to try almonds,” Roche said. “It’s cool to eat almonds.”

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