Califonia Bountiful

Creativity helps California nut thrive

California is the only state in the country to grow almonds commercially.

Did you know that California is the only state in the country to grow almonds commercially? There are more than 6,000 almond farmers throughout the state, growing on more than 500,000 acres. And the business keeps thriving. Projections have this year's crop at more than a billion pounds! Almonds are easily one of the state's biggest crops but down in San Diego, they're getting a new life ... and it's all thanks to a little help from Mom.

Meet Mama Mellace. She's the face behind the newest company to utilize and expand on California's booming nut crop. The company is headed by Mike Mellace and Mike Runion, who were living good lives in the corporate world, until one day when fate intervened in the form of a simple snack.

"Mike buys these cinnamon nuts in a bag, You see them at festivals a lot. I had never seen them before and they're a real big hit on the East Coast. So we start eating them and I go, 'These things are great!'" said Mike Runion, co -owner of Mama Mellace.

"So we went back and got some more. And we started talking about how cool it would be to have something on the side for fairs and festivals," said co-owner Mike Mellace.

So the two started experimenting and began making small batches of flavored nuts in their own garages. Word quickly spread about their unique products, and it was only a matter of time before they had to find a name and face for their new company. That's when they turned to a familiar person--Mike Mellace's mom--and thus Mama Mellace's Old World Treats was born. But before Mama would sign off on the company, she insisted on only using the top ingredients; she insisted her name would only be on the best. So for the company's most important ingredient, nuts, they turned to one of the largest and most respected farms in the business--The Stewart and Jasper Farm in the San Joaquin Valley.

One of the main reasons Stewart and Jasper took a chance on the small company was because they could identify with two young men coming from opposite backgrounds to start a company on a simple dream. Started in 1948 by poultry farmers Romain Stewart and Lee Jasper, the farm has grown into a hugely successful, integrated operation, involving thousands of acres of hulling, shelling, processing and marketing. The second and third generation of Jaspers are running the business and finding new ways to market their nuts, including through people like Mike and Mike.

Today, while maintaining its own business, the company supplies Mama Mellace with all of its almonds. And over the years, the two companies have come together and formed a unique partnership, that yes, even a mother could love.

For more information about Mama Mellace, visit

For more information about Stewart and Jasper, visit

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