• Last modified 841 days ago (March 24, 2022)


Hobby becomes a business for Durham couple

Staff Writer

Anyone who has ever made pfeffernuesse, or peppernuts, by hand, knows it is a time-consuming exercise. The tiny traditional German cookies are made by forming dough into a thin roll and slicing it into bite-size pieces to be baked on a cookie sheet.

Roy Davis of Durham, in partnership with his wife, Nadine, has been making and selling peppernut-making guns for more than 20 years. Using a gun makes the job much faster.

They knew a man in Inman who made them, and Nadine received one as a Christmas present. When hers was beginning to work not so well, she asked Roy to make one for her. That was the beginning of a hobby that has become a profitable business.

Roy built a workroom in his garage. His peppernut makers are created from caulking guns bought wholesale. He buys 10-foot-long plastic pipe and cuts it into 10-inch lengths.

Roy removes the metal cradle from each caulking gun, which he said is difficult. He drills holes into the collar and uses a chisel to remove rivets.

He glues a stop into the bottom of each pipe and attaches it to the gun using a plastic fitting with screw-in ends. He drills three holes near the bottom of the pipe, then slides onto it a two-inch plastic collar that is sanded to a thin edge at one end for sharp cutting. He also cuts grooves into the collar for grip. A circle sawed from a thick plastic cutting board is glued to the end of the plunger.

The process creates a lot of fine dust.

“When I’m working in here, it gets pretty dirty,” Ray said.

He wears protective eye glasses.

The tube is filled with dough. Placing it vertically on a cookie sheet, the user pumps the lever and moves the collar on the pipe up and down to cut the bits of dough as they come out the holes. It doesn’t take long to fill a pan.

It’s important to make the dough the right consistency, Nadine said. If it is too firm, it won’t come out the holes.

Her job is to wash every peppernut maker after it is finished and fill orders that come in from everywhere off a website he runs. A YouTube video also is available. Some guns are mailed, and some customers pick theirs up. The couple sold 54 last year.

“We were getting calls left and right in November and December,” Nadine said.

They enjoy getting feedback from customers and answer any questions they may have.

Roy retired from the county road and bridge department in 2019 after 39 years.

“This is my hobby,” he said. “I also have trains, another hobby. I have to have something to do. We get to know people, too.”

Last modified March 24, 2022