Homegrown Hustle: Meet Lauren Marcinkoski of Luray Peanut Co.

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Enjoying boiled peanuts and leading global brands are tradition for this Savannah native


LAUREN MARCINKOSKI grew up in Savannah. Like other natives, her childhood summers were spent on Tybee Island, and no trip to the beach was complete with one specific snack.

“If you are a local, you either stop at Davis Produce for boiled peanuts on the way down or bring your own,” says Marcinkoski, adding that her grandmother has the best recipe.

But now as the CEO of the fast-growing Luray Peanut Co., Marcinkoski is ushering in another option for families on the go. 

Lauren Marcinkoski, CEO of Luray Peanut Co.

“We found our niche bringing really good boiled peanuts to grocery stores, convenience stores and stadiums. It’s just caught on.” 

— Lauren Marcinkoski, chief executive officer, Luray Peanut Co.

Headquartered just across the bridge from Savannah in Hardeeville, South Carolina, Luray Peanut Co. was launched by Corrin Bowers, a peanut farmer and one of Marcinkoski’s childhood friends. In 2021, he convinced her to join the homegrown start-up on a mission to make the traditional roadside snack convenient for everyone and share the joy of this Southern staple around the world. 

“Corrin brought me in as a consultant at first. He was like, ‘I have this idea. I really need your help.’ At first, I didn’t believe him. I was like, ‘You’re doing what with boiled peanuts?’”

Luray boiled peanuts are fresh-frozen and come in pre-portioned 12- or 32-ounce bags with a special film that can be microwaved in minutes or kept warm under heat lamps for up to 8 hours. 

“So I came in as a consultant first, and then he kept saying, ‘Don’t you want to run the company?’” adds Marcinkoski, who has a background in marketing and a Master of Business Administration from Georgia Southern.

Luray boiled peanuts are sold across the Southeast, including retailers like Parker’s Convenience Stores, Ingles Markets and Piggly Wiggly. // Photo courtesy Luray Peanut Co.

Since she said yes, the product has spread like wildfire. 

The website, luraypeanut.com, shows a map with hundreds of places where the nuts are sold across the Southeast, including retailers like Parker’s Convenience Stores, Ingles Markets and Piggly Wiggly. 

While the nuts are typically sold thawed in the produce section, Marcinkoski notes that some shoppers may find Luray in the freezer section. Frozen bags can be thrown in a beach cooler like an ice pack, and some people prefer to eat the thawed nuts as a chilled snack.

“We found our niche bringing really good boiled peanuts to grocery stores, convenience stores and stadiums,” says Marcinkoski. “It’s just caught on.”

In some places, the brand is nearly impossible to miss — especially when the World’s Largest Boiled Peanut is in tow. “We claim it weighs half a ton, but I’ve never actually put it on a scale,” says Marcinkoski of the 22-foot spectacle, which recently made appearances at the Hilton Head Ireland St. Patrick’s Day parade and Hilton Head Brewing Company.

Bluffton locals may recall the larger-than-life nut from its former home at Cahill’s Market. 

“I think there is a Bluffton argument going on about who actually built it. We have had a little Instagram back and forth with different people claiming to be the originators,” says Marcinkoski, with a playful laugh. “It does belong to the company, but it is looking for a new home. Right now, it’s on my farm, but we are hoping the Heyward House is going to take it. We would really like to get it on the tourist apps so it can become a destination.” 

Lauren Marcinkoski with her mother, Courtney Flexon (left), and her grandmother, Elizabeth Sprague (seated), on the family’s farm.

Under Marcinkoski’s leadership, Luray has focused on establishing strategic partnerships with local organizations that make a big impact. Luray has previously sponsored the annual Boiled Peanut Festival held every fall at the Heyward House. Further afield, the company has forged a partnership with Charleston’s Minor League Baseball team, the RiverDogs.

“Charleston, believe it or not, was the first market where we really exploded,” says Marcinkoski. “I’m a large believer that Charleston eats more boiled peanuts per capita than any city
in the country.”

At the beginning of the 2022-2023 NFL season, the company also partnered with the Jacksonville Jaguars to kick off its Luray Peanut Pickoff Program. Each time the Jaguars completed an interception at their home stadium, Luray partnered with the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation to donate to youth football initiatives throughout the Jacksonville community. 

“They just hosted a youth football camp with the funds that we raised,” says Marcinkoski. “They had 130 kids show up, and they got to play with the NFL players. It was fantastic.” 

Luray Peanut Co. donated $5,000 to the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation following the launch of the Luray Peanut Pickoff initiative. // Photo courtesy Luray Peanut Company

This summer, Luray is making its debut at Coastal Plain League Baseball games, which includes teams like the Macon Bacon and the Florence Flamingos. “Any sports venue that wants to take us, we’ll be there,” says Marcinkoski. 

In fact, Luray Peanut Co. is even going global this year, with help from international wholesaler Thornton Trade Resource Group. “The product actually just made its international debut earlier this year in Dubai,” says Marcinkoski. “We will officially be the first company to export a boiled peanut.”

Marcinkoski, however, is staying close to home. Conveniently, the CEO and mom has a short commute to work.

 “We have our offices right behind my house on our farm,” she says. “We converted part of our barn, and now we have offices and a conference room. I’m really lucky that I just walk right out the door and get started.”

For Marcinkoski, eating boiled peanuts isn’t the only family tradition she is continuing. She is also a third-generation CEO. Her mother, Courtney Flexon, oversees the Adeline Sugar Co. and previously served as an alderman of Savannah. 

“When I was growing up, she was in politics in Savannah for a really long time, and she is one of the most poised people I know. She has been an incredible inspiration to me,” says Marcinkoski. 

Her grandfather, the late W.W. Sprague Jr., was the former CEO of Savannah Foods and Industries, Inc., which produces Dixie Crystals Sugar. “My grandmother, Elizabeth Sprague, is the matriarch of our family,” says Marcinkoski. “I have truly incredible women in my life who are all native to Savannah and have helped shape me into the leader that I am.”

This story and more in the May/June issue of Savannah magazine. Get your copy today.