While walking through a grocery store one day, Andrew Broocker picked up a jar of natural, salt-free peanut butter. He went home, opened the jar and within minutes looked down to see he'd eaten more than half of its contents.
Panicking, he grabbed the jar, got in his car and threw the peanut butter in a trash can far away from his house. At that time, Broocker was in the middle of a major weight-loss effort (eventually losing more than half his body weight), so he was alarmed by his uncontrolled consumption.
Oddly enough, Broocker (pictured), 37, of Henrico County, says he had never craved peanut butter until after he started losing weight. His journey began on Feb. 3, 2008, when he woke up and decided to change his life. He was overweight and inactive, and he knew it couldn't continue. Starting out, "I knew I couldn't just go into a gym," he says. "Instead, I took my Golden Retriever for a half-mile walk." The workouts (and weight loss) grew from there. After losing more than 150 pounds, the former restaurant manager became a personal trainer who rises at 4:15 every morning to get in his daily workout. And he never stopped eating peanut butter. While he doesn't consider it a "diet food," he sees it as a good source of protein when eaten in moderation.
Broocker's taste for peanut butter wasn't satisfied by the jars he found on grocery shelves, so he began making his own. He found a Wakefield farmer who grows peanuts, and then set up shop in his mother's kitchen. After his experiments yielded tasty results, he decided to go into business and he asked his mother, Lois, to be his partner. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer (now in remission) shortly after he began losing weight, and her fight for survival provided inspiration for him. The product gets its name from one of the family dogs — a cockapoo named Reginald. "He was really full of himself," Broocker says. "But he was a very regal dog with a good, strong name."
Having just made its debut in May, Reginald's Homemade Peanut Butter (reginaldshomemade.com) can be found in Whole Foods Markets and at the Farmers Market at St. Stephen's. Popular flavors include Nana Honey, Double Chocolate Chunk and Hazelnut Amaretto. In July, Broocker added Bourbon Pecan, and he dreams of making an ice cream out of his White Chocolate Macadamia Peanut Butter. "In the future, I see Reginald's in every grocery store in the country," he says. "I think the possibilities for it are endless."