Superior Pecans has made distinctive Alabama treats for nearly 90 years

Superior Pecans has made distinctive Alabama treats for nearly 90 years
The Shoffit family preserve and build on decades-old traditions at their pecan shop and café in downtown Eufaula. (Superior Pecans)

The aroma of fresh-roasted coffee drifts out onto East Broad Street as guests linger over scoops of ice cream. In the back, Eufaula women assemble handstacks of pecans as they’ve done for decades.

Superior Pecans & Gifts has produced distinctively Southern treats for nearly 90 years, while the family business has expanded its services to become a fixture of the historic downtown.

Hugh Sparks opened the original Superior Pecans in 1934. The business started in what was once a blacksmith’s shop, now known as Eufaula’s Old Pecan Factory.

“The rail system went right by it, so they could ship their pecans anywhere,” says owner Jan Shoffit. “They had a large corporate following that they could send pecans far off to, but they also saved the best for Eufaula.”

Jan and Brad Shoffit’s family-owned business purchased the company in 2011 with the goal to blend modern touches with the classic flavors that Superior Pecans had long established.

The “pecan ladies” at Superior Pecans have been preparing the company’s trademark treats for decades. (Brittany Dunn/Alabama NewsCenter)

“This is a family-owned business,” says Jan. “We owe much of our success to loyal employees and customers, as well as the former owners, Dan and Renee Ellis, who guided us. We have anywhere between nine and 12 people working here depending on the season, with things getting very busy around Christmas.”

Four years after buying the company, the Shoffits knew that it was time to relocate.

“The old spot was good for a different time, but it was out of the way,” says Jan. “Now we’re downtown in the middle of Eufaula.”

In the new location, the Shoffits added a café component to their enterprise.

“Brad is behind the coffee,” says Jan. “It was his idea, and it has especially helped us a lot during the off-season.”

Their Largemouth Coffee Company offers a variety of distinct flavors, including the signature Southern Pecan, which is roasted with their own product. Since 2017, the shop also serves gourmet milkshakes and ice cream, the perfect refreshment for the Alabama spring and summer.

The main attraction has always been the pecans, of course. Shoffit and her family source the prized nuts from farmers in south Alabama and Georgia and have recently purchased their own orchard as well.

“We can do a lot with the pecans,” she says. “We make candied pecans in the kitchen, along with brittles and coated pecans.”

The treats can be coated with rich flavors like caramel or chocolate amaretto, then packaged in gift baskets, boxes or bags. If you have a special occasion or promotion coming up, gifts can even be customized with special labels.

“They make great wedding favors,” says Jan.

The shop’s signature gift is the pecan handstack, a one-of-a-kind arrangement of pecan halves in a circular, metal-bottomed tub.

“The ladies that make these by hand have been doing this since the 1960s,” says Jan. “It’s a tradition and a favorite gift here, especially at Christmas.”

Superior Pecans is a FedEx ship center, allowing it to fulfill online orders and send gifts directly to its customers. This has proved extraordinarily helpful during the community’s efforts to flatten the curve of Alabama’s COVID-19 cases. As Shoffit and company look forward to the days when they can host guests within their communal café atmosphere, they can serve customers through curbside pickup on Mondays through Thursdays.

This story originally appeared on the This is Alabama website.

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