Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter — A Delicious Treat for The Holidays

Harvey's Butter Rum BatterWalk into the small office of Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter in Bremerton and one of the first things you notice is a framed poster of the 1950s-era movie “Harvey,” starring Jimmy Stewart.

If you’re unfamiliar with the tale, Harvey was an invisible rabbit that Stewart’s character — a wealthy drunk — consulted with on just about every aspect of life. Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter founder Harvey Hudson loved him so much that he trademarked the image and created a signature logo with a feisty-looking rabbit leaning against a lamppost — the same one Stewart describes in the movie when he first talks about seeing his imaginary friend.

Stacy Ryan, President
Stacy Ryan, President

“He really enjoyed the film,” company President Stacy Ryan says of Hudson. “A lot of people recognize the movie (based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play), but young people don’t know the back story. They just think the logo’s cool.”

Nowadays, Harvey’s produces its famous buttered rum batter — used for making specialty drinks and tasty recipes, especially during the holiday season — plus a variety of toffee popcorn and other products in a 3,600-square-foot production facility not far from the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

Harvey's Butter Rum BatterIt distributes its products on shelves in most grocery and convenience stores throughout the Pacific Northwest, and customers can place orders on the company’s website (harveysbrb.com), or use it to check out new and old recipes for beverages such as Harvey’s Hot Buttered Rum, hot cider, milkshakes, hot chocolate and chai tea; or dishes and desserts like Harvey’s Cocktail Meatballs, spiced nuts, sautéed fruit, or the fan favorite Harvey’s Apple Squares.

For Harvey’s aficionados or would-be ones, there’s a Harvey’s Recipe Book Vol. 1, easily downloadable from the website.

Harvey's Butter Rum BatterHudson created his recipe for buttered rum batter while tending bar back in the 1950s. It earned such a reputation among customers that he eventually contracted with a local dairy and started producing the batter in larger batches, while the dairy distributed Harvey’s now familiar 11-ounce “tubs” along its home- delivery routes.

The business continued to grow, and in 1972, Hudson opened his own plant and distribution center not far from the site of the current setting.

Harvey's Butter Rum BatterHudson died in 2011 at age 94, and Ryan purchased the business later that year together with her husband, Scott McBride. The pair worked for more than two decades for McBride’s family business, McBride’s Hallmark Stores, which had locations scattered throughout the Kitsap Peninsula, and with business partners, on Mercer Island.

“It was a great family business,” Ryan recalls. “I worked with them for 20 years and did buying and marketing.”

Due to changing consumer purchasing habits and the onset of online shopping, the small McBride’s chain sold off its stores and consolidated its operations. Itching to get back into business, Ryan and McBride bought Harvey’s when it went up for sale on Craig’s List.

“There was a lot of interest,” Ryan says. “A lot of people wanted to buy it. The family started interviewing people (and we) remember sitting at their dinning room table talking with (Hudson’s) kids. They were looking for someone who wouldn’t totally change things… I guess they liked us.”

Gift boxes available and ready to ship anywhere around the country
Gift boxes available and ready to ship anywhere around the country

Ryan handles the marketing and merchandising sides of the business, while her husband, an admitted “quiet sort,” runs the production line and does all the mixing of the batter, as well as the packaging and distribution. The small business has three other employees, including Ryan’s sister, Robin, who works the production line, along with writing and creating recipes.

“We all do a little bit of everything around here,” says Ryan, who admits to being a bit of a serial entrepreneur who “loves being in business, being creative and doing lots of things.”

It was this characteristic and the need to diversify that prompted the couple to expand Harvey’s in 2014 when they purchased the assets of Wenatchee-based Little River Candy Co.

A busy time of year at the Bremerton production facility
A busy time of year at the Bremerton production facility

Buttered rum batter is very seasonal, Ryan explains. “We thought there was a bigger opportunity beyond the (holiday) season for a shelf-stable, year-round product. That’s when we started doing popcorn.”

The Little River toffee popcorn, now under Harvey’s yellow-and-black packaging, is a confection made using the company’s candy-making equipment, techniques and recipes. It’s becoming a customer favorite, notes Ryan, and is offered in a variety of sweet and savory flavors.

“Harvey’s (Buttered Rum) had such brand presence that it really helped get (the popcorn) onto store shelves,” she says.

The success of the toffee popcorn prompted Ryan and McBride to take another leap of faith in 2016 to purchase Sequim-based Casey’s Kettle Corn and consolidate its operations in Bremerton.

Harvey’s all-natural popcorn comes in many flavors, including butter rum toffee, white cheddar, kettle corn and original toffee.
Harvey’s all-natural popcorn comes in many flavors, including butter rum toffee, white cheddar, kettle corn and original toffee.

The result of that purchase is not only another product line but also a new distribution channel in ACE Hardware and True Value stores, where Casey’s had a historic presence.

“Popcorn is a year-round business that doesn’t end,” says Ryan, who recently picked up an account with a gift basket company to include Harvey’s toffee products.

The company works closely with Heritage Distilling in Gig Harbor, which is using its batter to mix with its own brown-sugared rum. Harvey’s is also producing a specialty cheesecake for the Admiral Theatre in Bremerton.

Harvey's Butter Rum Batter“We’d love to do a Harvey’s Rum but there’s lots of laws that make it challenging,” Ryan says. “It mostly has to do with sugar (and how it’s processed).”

While Ryan and McBride are looking for other ways to cross-market and cross-merchandise Harvey’s with grocery chains and other compatible businesses, they’re smart enough not to stray too far from their bread and butter, so to speak.

Holiday buttered rum batter sales make up a huge portion of the annual sales, according to Ryan, who notes she’s seen revenue grow every year since the pair purchased the business. Last year, they had 18 percent spike.

“People have memories about the batter and they remember that tub,” Ryan says. “It’s part of people’s holiday memories… It brings a smile to your face.”


Harvey's Butter Rum BatterHarvey’s Party Mix


  • 1 small tub Harvey’s
  • 3 cups corn Chex cereal
  • 3 cups pretzels
  • 1-1/2 cups pecans
  • 1 cup dried cranberries


  • In large fry pan or skillet, melt Harvey’s until it starts to bubble.
  • Add remaining ingredients and stir gently to combine.
  • Divide in half and pour onto two baking sheets.
  • Bake at 250 degrees until crisp, about 25-35 minutes.

Harvey's Butter Rum BatterHarvey’s Peanut Butter Balls


  • 1/2 cup Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter, slightly softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp crunchy-style peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 lb dark chocolate, melted in double broiler, stirring until smooth


  • In medium-size bowl, combine all ingredients except chocolate.
  • Mix by hand until completely combined. Mixture may seem a little dry, but heat from hands will help them stick together when rolling into balls.
  • Take small pieces of filling and roll into small balls. you should have enough for 28-30 bite-size balls.
  • Dip balls into melted chocolate and place on Silpat or parchment to set. To fully set will take several hours or you can refrigerate to speed up the process.

Cocktail Meatballs with Tangy Harvey’s Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients — Meatballs:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp parsley, minced
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 lb ground beef

Ingredients — Sauce:

  • 8 oz can jellied cranberry sauce
  • 3 tbsp Harvey’s
  • 1 tbsp vinegar

Instructions — Meatballs:

  • In large bowl, combine eggs, breadcrumbs, milk, parsley, mustard, salt and pepper.
  • Add beef.
  • Mix well.
  • Shape into 1-inch meatballs.
  • Place in 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan.
  • Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes or until done.
  • Drain.
  • While meatballs are cooking, prepare sauce.

Instructions — Finishing:

  • In a saucepan, combine all sauce ingredients.
  • Heat, stirring occasionally until starts to bubble.
  • Add cooked meatballs and heat through.


Harvey's Butter Rum BatterHarvey’s Caramel Banana Crepes

Ingredients — Crepes:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted

Ingredients — Filling:

  • 1/2 cup Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 5 firm bananas, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • Whipped cream and cinnamon for garnish if desired

Instructions — Crepes:

  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, powdered sugar and salt.
  • Add milk, eggs, vanilla and melted butter. Beat until smooth.
  • Heat a lightly greased 6-inch skillet. Add 3 tbsp of batter to cover bottom of skillet.
  • Cook until lightly browned; turn and brown other side.
  • Remove to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter.

Instructions — Filling:

  • Melt Harvey’s in a large skillet.
  • Stir in whipping cream and cook until slightly thickened.
  • Add bananas and heat for 2-3 minutes, spooning sauce over them. Remove from heat.

To serve:

  • Roll a crepe around each banana half and place on a serving plate.
  • Spoon sauce over the top.
  • Garnish with freshly whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon.

Makes 10 crepes.

Harvey’s Apple Squares


  • 1 container of Harvey’s (11 oz.)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup walnuts


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium saucepan, melt Harvey’s. Remove from heat, stir in egg. Add remaining ingredients.
  • Spread into a greased and floured 8- or 9-inch square pan. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Serve warm with ice cream or cold.

Harvey's Butter Rum BatterHarvey’s Hot Buttered Rum


  • 1 heaping tsp Harvey’s
  • 1 oz rum
  • 8 oz water, hot, not boiling


  • Stir together in mug.
  • Variations: Try with spiced rum, whiskey or your favorite spirit.

Harvey’s Hot Spiced Chocolate


  • 1 tbsp Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 8 oz. milk
  • Variations: Add Grand Marnier, Irish cream or pumpkin cream liquor

Harvey's Butter Rum BatterHarvey’s Apple Pie Ala-Mode Martini


  • 3 tbsp Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter
  • 2 oz cream
  • 2 oz rum
  • 3 oz Apple Pucker
  • 4 oz apple cider
  • 10 ice cubes


  • Combine all ingredients in blender and process until smooth.

Harvey’s Milkshake


  • 2 tbsp Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter (or to taste)
  • 2 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 8 oz milk
  • 1 oz coconut rum and/or crème de cocoa


  • Combine all ingredients in blender and process until smooth.

Harvey’s Frozen ‘Venetian’ Coffee


  • 1 tbsp Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter
  • 1 oz brandy
  • 1 oz Galliano
  • 1/2 oz triple sec
  • 1-1/2 oz cream
  • 4 oz. cold coffee
  • 3-4 ice cubes


  • Combine all ingredients in blender and process until smooth.
  • Top with whipped cream and dash of cinnamon.

Harvey's Butter Rum BatterFrequently Asked Questions About Harvey’s

Does Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter have alcohol in it? The batter does not contain actual alcohol in it. The company uses a delicious flavoring that gives it the rum taste.

Does Harvey’s have a retail store? Harvey’s sells to its wholesale accounts out of its plant, and the products are available at most area grocery stores. If there is not a retail store in your area, the company offers an online store and can even assist you with your gift-giving needs.

Does Harvey’s offer tours of the plant? Due to food safety regulations, Harvey’s is not able to offer tours of the production facility. Because the facility is set up for wholesale production, it cannot accommodate the public.

Is the product gluten-free? The butter rum batter and toffee corn are gluten-free. Currently there are no items in the production facility that contain gluten, so no chance of any cross-contamination.

What is the shelf life of the Butter Rum Batter? The batter has a two-year shelf life under refrigeration and even longer if frozen. The toffee corn is best when eaten within four months of production.

Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter, LLC

360-373-6460 • Many more recipes available at harveysbrb.com