Arbovale resident Bev Anderton has always been conscious of what is in her food. Raised in a health conscious family, Bev was mindful of serving nutritious food to her own family – her husband, Jim, and their five children.
“My mom tried to feed us well – I was one of six kids,” she said.
“When we started having children, and were on a shoestring budget – growing up, these guys ate a lot of food – and I was trying to find something that was nutritious, that would fill their bellies.”
That was when Bev first developed her pancake mix. She tried different blends, using healthy ingredients, until she came across one that the whole family enjoyed.
“I would make a huge batch of pancakes and the kids would eat them as peanut butter and jelly rollups,” she said. “The original blend is a crepe-y type, so you could fill it with whatever and roll it up and just munch away.”
It had always been in Bev’s mind to produce her mix and sell it. She had strong encouragement from her family but it wasn’t until March 2021 when she finally took the plunge into the mass production and the sale of Bev’s Best.
“It’s something that I mulled around in my head for years,” she said. “Probably as much as fifteen years. One year, the grandkids were here – they were eating my stuff like crazy and loving it – saying, ‘Grandmom, you really ought to sell these things’ I read somewhere that’s really not the criteria for making something, but it wasn’t a new idea.”
Fueled by her family’s optimism and assistance, Bev set out to create a variety of pancake mixes to sell locally.
Two of her grandsons helped her with the math, as well as finding the materials she needed to package the mix. The boys also helped with the drawing that is used on the label for the Back Home Original buttermilk griddlecake mix.
“I dug out a photo of when we first moved into the old farmhouse in Mansfield, Pennsylvania, and I asked our oldest grandson to draw a picture of it,” Bev said. “He drew a picture and our other grandson burned it onto a wooden plaque and colored it.”
Bev’s Best has grown to eight flavors including seasonal favorites, pumpkin spice and cocoa.
“The pumpkin one is going to be seasonal, even though I love pumpkin spice,” Bev said. “It’s a great flavor. Right now, I have the two chocolate blends which I brought in for Christmas. Then I have four blends of baked oatmeal. Baked oatmeal is something I fed my kids and now the grandkids love it, too. It’s been in the family a long time.”
There are also gluten free options, which, according to her husband, taste as good as the originals.
“I want to say something about her gluten free,” Jim said. “She fed that to me without me knowing it. I don’t like gluten free. It tastes like cardboard. She fed that to me and I said, ‘boy these are great.’ So I always like to throw that out to people. I was the guinea pig, but it was really good.”
“I realize it’s a real problem today,” Bev said, of gluten allergies. “It’s not that much more expensive – I’d rather do just a step better, because I do care about what people eat.”
The Andertons have tried to cut back on their own gluten intake and they are eating even healthier than they did before.
“We tried to eat healthy, but in 2014, they discovered a huge lymphoma tumor inside of me and I had to go through chemo,” Bev said. “Never thought I’d do that, but I did. After that, Jim had open heart surgery.”
“It was a banner year for us,” Jim added.
“So we were on a quest,” Bev said. “We needed to make changes.
“We needed to just get a step healthier, so we try to watch gluten and the breads. Definitely, don’t do a bunch of the white flour junk pastry stuff. Realizing we needed to make changes makes me care about what I’m feeding other people. I take that seriously.”
In the past year, the Andertons have connected with businesses and state parks around West Virginia to sell Bev’s Best and are thrilled with the response from retailers.
“We have our products in seven or eight state parks, throughout the state,” Jim said. “We’re trying to get it out to other places. We’re getting them out into supermarkets such as IGA in Marlinton. The people who are selling these are quite enthusiastic about it. Brenda [Walters] down at Levels Depot – when she saw the quality of it – she was quite ecstatic as was Rob [Hilleary] at IGA.
“We’re thankful for that,” he continued. “We’re getting it into more stores, and we’d like to get them into some restaurants, also.”
The mixes have also been used at certain local events. The second grade students participating in Nature’s Mountain Playground enjoyed a brunch featuring Bev’s Best pancakes at Snowshoe Mountain Resort and this Saturday, March 19, during the Maple Days sugar camp tours, Bev’s Best mixes will be used at the Farm-to-Table brunch at Fort Warwick in Green Bank.
Bev’s Best mixes will also be available for sale that day.
As for the future of Bev’s Best, the Anderstons are in the process of applying to the West Virginia Department of Agriculture to be an official West Virginia made product. Bev is also tooling with ideas of other mixes, including granola and muffin mixes.
“I could see that happening, eventually,” she said. “In fact, I’ve thought about a corn muffin type recipe, but I have not perfected that type of thing, yet. Also, they’re rather cheap in the market, so I don’t know if that would be a great product to start with. I’d like to see something different, maybe something that’s not there.
“A granola,” she continued. “I used to make big bowls of granola. That’s a potential.
“I am looking at expansion.”