Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record
Rolands Abermanis, owner of Freeland business SPUNKS, loads a box of pumpkin seeds for delivery. The business is hoping to move production to Whidbey soon.

Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record Rolands Abermanis, owner of Freeland business SPUNKS, loads a box of pumpkin seeds for delivery. The business is hoping to move production to Whidbey soon.

Sowing success

Pumpkin seeds with a kick

A business that started out as a seed of an idea has been sprouting its way to Whidbey a little more each year.

Like the pumpkin seeds that are involved in the snack company, the idea for SPUNKS has slowly been roasting over the past decade.

Nearly 25 years ago, when Rolands Abermanis lived in New Orleans, he bought a pound of raw pumpkin seeds on a whim. He stirred them with spices and baked them into what became a popular snack at parties.

The “seasoned, somewhat spicy” pumpkin seeds became known as SPUNKS.

The business officially kicked off after Abermanis and his wife, Jennifer, had made the move to Whidbey.

“What started out as a hobby is now like a full-grown business, and growing little by little,” Abermanis said.

Flavors of the pepitas range from the not-spicy, which includes seeds with no seasoning or with sea salt, to the spicy, which includes Sriracha and two different levels of cajun seasoning.

Jennifer joked that the milder of the two cajun flavors has been developed for the “Northwest palate.”

“Our product is seasoned so that it’s just enough and enticing, it leaves you wanting more and it’s not overpowering in any of the spices,” Abermanis said.

The roasted seeds have gained a faithful following over the years. Even Karolyn Grimes, who played the little girl Zuzu in “It’s A Wonderful Life,” is a fan.

When most people think of pumpkin seeds, Abermanis said, they think of the flat white seeds in large pumpkins.

The seeds he roasts are smaller and hull-less, puffing up a little and making for a nice crunch. They come from a farm in Eugene, Oregon.

The pepitas are roasted in 150-pound batches, with no added oils.

The seeds are organic, keto-friendly and contain phytosterols, which are thought to help lower cholesterol. They also contain essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6.

The snacks also present a healthier option for kids to snack on. The Seattle Children’s Hospital, where Jennifer used to work, carries SPUNKS in its cafeteria.

Production takes place at a facility in Bothell, where only pumpkin seeds are roasted. Abermanis is hoping to move the roasting process to Freeland, where he lives and where the office and warehouse for SPUNKS are currently located.

He has also been working to get the product in Whidbey stores, including Payless Foods, the Goose Grocer and 3 Sisters Market. In addition, he and Jennifer are regular vendors at the Bayview Farmers Market. On the mainland, SPUNKS can be found at QFC and Bartell Drugs.

Abermanis welcomes the incorporation of customer recipes. He is currently re-working the SPUNKS website to include a tab to share recipe submissions.

“There’s a recipe out there with mac and cheese and SPUNKS,” he said with a laugh.

Recently, Jennifer has been testing out recipes involving the seeds. These include “Sriracha” SPUNKS encrusted fish, and a yeast-free bread using the plain “Naked” SPUNKS. The latter recipe was provided to her by a Latvian relative of Abermanis’.

And as always, Abermanis is working on developing some new flavors. The latest creation he has been having people try is dill pickle, although he would also like to make a popcorn flavor.

• For more information on SPUNKS, visit spunkstore.com.

Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record
SPUNKS currently come in six flavors, although more are currently being developed.

Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record SPUNKS currently come in six flavors, although more are currently being developed.

More in Life

Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times
The town of Coupeville is celebrating Halloween with a tribute to "Practical Magic," the film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as sister witches that was filmed in Coupeville in the late 1990s.
Coupeville extras reminisce about a practically magic time on film set

Coupeville celebrates a Halloween tribute to the film with decorations and special showings.

See caption
Farm stand opens at school

Students, staff members and Americorps service members worked together on the self-serve stand.

Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times
Laura Foley, left, and Don Meehan locate a grave in Sunnyside Cemetery using Find a Grave's GPS grave locator.
Volunteers adding GPS grave locator to Sunnyside’s website

Two community volunteers took on a project to make it easier to locate graves in Sunnyside Cemetery.

Edited photo - better to use
A green reaping: Whidbey pot farm harvests outdoor bounty

Volunteers approach bushes of kush with shears in hand at the South Whidbey farm owned by Adam Lind.

Photo by Theresa Farage
A photographer captured the Northern Lights over North Whidbey Tuesday night. Theresa Farage went to Dugualla Bay Heights Road looking toward La Conner armed with her Nikon D5200 camera and iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Northern Lights over Whidbey

The dazzling northern lights appeared in the skies across the state this week.

Penn Cove employees serve customers during the brewery’s grand opening celebration of its new location in Freeland over Memorial Day weekend. (Tyler Rowe / Cold Pizza Creative)
Drink This: Penn Cove opens its 3rd taproom on Whidbey Island

Brothers Marc and Mitch Aparicio opened a new Freeland taproom at The Barn over Memorial Day weekend.

Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times
Will Hawkins and Dawn Smith officially took ownership of Rainshadow Nursery on Oct. 1.
Rainshadow Nursery welcomes new owners

Dawn Smith and Will Hawkins of Greenbank officially took ownership of Rainshadow Nursery on Oct. 1.

Rob Schouten's "Skyfall" oil painting is inspired by the San Juan Islands.
His etchings and paintings explore the mysteries of nature

You can Rob Schouten’s aquatint etchings and oil paintings at his gallery and art garden in Langley.

Gabrielle Robles at Sunnyside Cemetery in a block house.
Coupeville woman offers haunted history tour

Gabrielle Robles is taking guests on a Haunted History Tour of Whidbey Island on Oct. 29 and 30.

See caption
NBA star Isaiah Thomas travels to South Whidbey

South Whidbey teenager Jacob Ng recently got to live out a hoop dream.

pumpkins
Halloween happens on Whidbey

Spooky season is back in swing and there are plenty of events that promise a ghoulishly good time.

Audubon is holding birding class for beginners Oct. 19

Master birder Whitney Neufeld-Kaiser will be teaching the online Zoom class 7-8:30 p.m. Oct. 19.