For Judy Deterding, the holiday season is synonymous with “high toffee season.” For years, she made toffee and sugared pecans (both family recipes) as gifts for her friends, and Judy says they loved the treats so much they began begging her to let them buy more. With their support, Judy decided to branch out to craft shows; then a year and a half ago, she created Judy’s Nuts and began selling her toffee and pecans, plus her latest creation, hot nuts, at specialty stores — first in Lakewood, then throughout Dallas, and now at the holy grail of Dallas retailers: Neiman Marcus.



I get the feeling “Judy’s Nuts” is a double entendre. True?



Needless to say. When I started it, everybody kept saying, “You’re crazy. You’re nuts,” and I said, “You’re right.” And that’s why we called it Judy’s Nuts — for more than one reason. I’m not sure why I did this, but it’s fun.



Are you a one-woman baking machine?



It’s pretty much a family business. My sister-in-law, my brother and my parents help tremendously, and I hire people at crunch season. My 9-year-old daughter comes up with new creative packaging ideas. It’s good to keep it in the family.



When did Neiman’s enter the picture?



I had given the toffee to a friend who works at Neiman’s — actually in cosmetics — who went to them and said, “Listen, people want this. Some of my customers want it. Will you give it a shot?” It didn’t hurt that the manager of Epicure bought some toffee from me last year. They were both so kind to really push for it, and Neiman’s let me do a two-day personal appearance on a Thursday and Friday in October, which turned into a three-day appearance. They asked me on Thursday if I could come on Saturday, too. I was thrilled, obviously.



So people are depleting Neiman’s supply pretty quickly?



We all walk around with trays and samples and try to get people to taste them. With food, that’s the whole key — just getting people to try it. The toffee is 90 percent of my business. It’s definitely the bestseller.



I guess you can’t share your secrets.



No, but it’s all handmade, hand-cut, and hand-packaged. It is labor intensive, and toffee is pretty finicky. But all toffee has four ingredients, and I don’t know how mine is different than others. That’s why I’m constantly amazed that it’s been such a big seller.



How can we get our hands on this stuff?



I’ve got lots of great stores in Lakewood , like Urban Flowers, Talulah Belle and Needless Necessities. St. Michael’s Women’s Exchange and Peek in the Attic in Highland Park also sell them. I’ll be at Neiman’s again Dec. 7 and 8. Based on how it sells and the demand they get, I’m hopeful that it might be on shelves at NorthPark and maybe other Neiman’s. I’m going to be out peddling this stuff.


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