Issue 09 – November 14, 2012

Miss Bertha & Peanut Brittle Making

Miss Bertha came into our family in 1938 when my grandfather hired her to take care of my grandmother who was bedridden as a result of an automobile accident. A native of Edgecombe County native, Miss Bertha served as a nurse during World War I in the European theater, returning to her farm with her two spinster sisters on the outskirts of Rocky Mount after the war.

During the time she tended to Mama Zelle, she taught my mother Nancy how to make peanut brittle – and according to the best of our family lore, she invented it.

When I was growing up, my mother would start making peanut brittle at the beginning of December. I remember seeing her pour the boiling hot sugar onto a marble slab to let it cool, then breaking it up into small chunks to package and deliver to friends and family during the Christmas season. After my mother’s death in 1995, my sister Nancy took over the family peanut brittle tradition and made it for her Richmond clients and friends.

About five years ago, I attended the Richmond School of Peanut Brittle Making under the tutelage and guidance of Nancy and her husband Tom. After three days of extensive training and grueling twenty batches per day exercises, I became an accredited Miss Bertha’s Peanut Brittle Maker.

With the consent and approval of my sister Nancy, I have begun to make and package this unique recipe of peanut brittle under the name Rusty’s Peanut Brittle.

If you are looking for a holiday treat (Thanksgiving or Christmas), please choose Rusty’s Peanut Brittle. It can be purchased in Tarboro at On the Square Restaurant and Rusty’s Gift Shop on Main Street.

If you are from out of the area, you can order online by visiting

We know that you will enjoy the candy and hope that you will feel the joy of its past and those who created it and gave it to people they loved.

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