Memories of fall
When her kitchen is filled with the scents of apples and cinnamon, Theresa Adams is transported to another time and place.
Adams lives in Lexington, S.C., where she runs her growing business with the funny name – Adams Apple Company – but she grew up in a small town in Illinois.
“I was very fortunate to spend a lot of time with my grandmother,” Adams said. “My mother passed away when I was 5. My dad, who was military, he moved my sister and I to Illinois to be surrounded by my mom’s family. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. That’s the biggest memory I have of my grandma is in the kitchen. The memories and the smells – it’s like I can still smell her kitchen in my mind – they just evoke such good feelings, good memories, family.”
Though Adams’ grandmother made apple pie and applesauce, Adam’s signature apple butter evolved from a different source.
“The apple butter memory comes from my mom’s youngest sister,” she said. “I remember seeing it cook in this big copper kettle outside on the farm. They were using a big wooden paddle to stir it around. I was just fascinated by it.”
After moving to South Carolina, that memory became the linchpin for a show of love to family and friends.
“With little money, Christmas gifts were just, ‘Oh my gosh, what do I do?’ So, I decided to do something heartfelt and homemade,” she said.
Lucky recipients got a jar of apple butter.
“It became a tradition for Christmas,” she said. “It was a few years after college that I married an Adams – so it became Adams Apple Butter. I made it every year and gave it away for Christmas gifts for probably 20 years.”
In 2012, Adams’ youngest child was going on a student ambassador trip to western Canada and the apple butter turned into a fundraiser.
“I blew through my first batch, had to do another,” she said.
By the fall of 2014, she decided to rent a kitchen and start a business.
“I would work for 10 hours a day prepping and peeling and cooking and canning and cleaning and I would get about eight cases of product out of it,” she said.
With that experience under her belt, Adams found a co-packer in the spring of 2015, which allowed her to add other products from her own recipes. Today, they are sold in stores in 38 states and online.
As the business grew, Adams said her children worked alongside her, helping at markets, making deliveries, branding wooden spoons and more. She hopes her entrepreneurial spirit stays with them.
“I want them to tell my grandkids and great grandkids, ‘Your grandma started the company and made it successful,’” she said.
Any business has to be a part of who you are, Adams said.
“What do they say about motherhood? It’s the hardest job you’ll ever love,” she said. “But this is, too. It’s like a baby. It has to be in your DNA. The rewards are not monetary, but working hard and seeing it through.”
Find Adams’ products and a store locator online at https://www.adamsappleco.com.