By Heather Bennett
Tim and Ronnie Wyatt, who were high school sweethearts, also share a love for sweets. When their printing business started to slow during the economic downturn, they turned towards pralines to help supplement their income. Having made the delicious, sugary treats for years for family and friends, they decided other people might enjoy them and want to purchase them. So, they started selling their homemade pralines around their home State of Virginia. “We sold out of our Caribbean Rum in three hours,” recalled Ronnie. Needless to say, the pralines were a big hit, and the Wyatt’s began the transition from operating a printing business to Pecan Jacks.
Tim and Ronnie spent the next two years selling their pralines at wine and food festivals throughout Virginia. In 2012, they decided to try a brick and mortar location, a holiday store in a Richland mall. They signed a two-month lease and played it by ear. “We did so well and had so much fun, we ended up staying five years,” said Ronnie. Then, they opened a second Pecan Jacks location in Richmond in the Omni hotel.
But what makes them so good? “Tim and I have a love of flavor and a love of taste,” said Ronnie. Their pralines and brittles are made with various flavor profiles. The pralines come in flavors such as Traditional, Caribbean Rum, Bourbon and Sweet Heat, while the brittles embody Pistachio, Cashew, Bayou Pecan and Picante. All the recipes are homemade.
The Wyatts vacationed for years in the area, dreamed of moving here, and so decided to bring Pecan Jacks to the beach. They closed their original location in the mall, and opened a Pecan Jacks location on 30A across from Ed Waline Beach. And now, after a few years, they’ve opened a new Pecan Jack’s in Destin!
Tim and Ronnie serve more than 40 flavors of homemade ice cream they’ve created at both Pecan Jack’s area locations. “We are an authentic operating candy and ice cream store where we make the candy and ice cream right there. We package it and have gorgeous gifts for the holidays,” said Ronnie. “We’re not just an ice cream store.”
If you are looking for a something to bring to Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner, a holiday party, or a gift to send to family and friends, you can stop by Pecan Jacks and order filled gift box collections full of their amazing, handmade candies, brittle, toffee, milk-chocolate cashews, gourmet chocolate pecans, dark chocolate espresso and much more. “What’s better than locally crafted fresh candy?” Ronnie asked. The store is stocked with corporate gifting and holiday boxes, too, where they can package and ship directly from the store. We’re all about presentation and delicious sweets,” Ronnie said. Pecan Jacks has holiday ice cream flavors, too, such as Peppermint Bark and a Cherry Cordial with Amaretto for the adults.
As our area is a melting pot of people from different regions, I asked Ronnie, is it pronounced PRAW-leen or PRAY-leen? “There’s no right or wrong way,” he said. “No matter how it’s pronounced, it’s a delicious piece of candy that everybody should try.”
You can check out Pecan Jacks at 4368 W County Hwy. 30A across from Ed Waline Beach, or the new Destin location at 535 Harbor Blvd. (98 West) in Destin (850-427-3080). Hours Noon to 9 p.m. daily. Visit the Website at www.pecanjacks.com. But I suggest a visit to sample the candy and ice cream as soon as possible! You can find Theo the Turtle there, too!