Virginia Tech sports fans can gobble up peanuts produced by alums

Whitley’s Peanut Factory produced by three generations of Hokies
Updated: Nov. 4, 2022 at 3:00 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Natalie and Catherine of Here @ Home head to Lane Stadium to talk with Brett Smith, whose family company — Whitley’s Peanut Factory – became the preferred vendor of peanuts for Virginia Tech Athletics. For Smith, peanuts are as much a part of his family as Virginia Tech.

The third-generation owners and third-generation Hokies delivered cases of peanuts just in time for the first home football game. Fans can enjoy Whitley’s salted or honey-roasted peanuts at concession stands in Lane Stadium as well as at Cassell Coliseum and Atlantic Union Bank Baseball Park.

Peanuts have been a big part of the Smith family’s everyday life for decades. Smith’s grandfather, Marion Smith ‘64, who earned a bachelor’s degree in education in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, was a founding member and first president of the Bank of Franklin. In 1974, he was asked by Marvin Whitley, who was a member of the bank’s board of directors, to join him in a shelling operation partnership known as the Whitley Peanut Company.

Brett’s father, Todd Smith ‘89, who earned a bachelor’s degree in hotel, restaurant, and institutional management — now called hospitality and tourism management — from Pamplin College of Business, joined the family-owned business in 1990.

Additional Hokies in the family include Brett’s mother, Kristen ‘90, who received a bachelor’s degree in hotel, restaurant, and institutional management, and sister, Bridgette, who is a student majoring in human development in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Today the family has retail locations in Williamsburg and Richmond in addition to the original store in Hayes, Virginia, where there is also a production facility and warehousing space. Raw peanuts arrive in 2,200-pound totes by the truckload from Birdsong Peanuts, then they are cooked, dried, and seasoned before packaging.

In 2021, Whitley’s celebrated 35 years in business. With up to 90 employees during the holiday season, Todd, president of Whitley Peanut Factory, said the reason for their success is due to the “quality of the products, great employees, and our loyal customer following.”