Local entrepreneur, cook, baker, author, award-winner – Mrs. Anne Grimes is all of these things. Mrs. Grimes of Harvest Time Foods, Inc., most widely known for her product, Anne’s Dumplings, is the founder of the food products powerhouse that started in Greenville and is now distributed across the country.
Harvest Time Foods, Inc. began as a home operation in 1981 in a converted carport by Bryan Grimes, Jr., his wife Anne, and their son Bryan Grimes, III (B.G.), a student at East Carolina University. Greenville, N.C. became the first home for the company as they began marketing packaged frozen dough strips called Anne’s Pastry.
This dough product is the main component in a regional dish cooked in Eastern North Carolina called chicken pastry and traditionally served for Sunday dinner.
Believing this business venture was divine inspiration from God, the family began to enthusiastically market their product locally in supermarkets. In each package there was a scripture verse from the Bible, providing food for the soul as well as food for the body. Now the scripture is printed on the package.
Anne’s Pastry was initially packed in a foil box, but was later changed to an over wrapped box. A new logo was designed by a graphic artist friend and fellow Christian, Marcie Dawson. The now familiar red and yellow logo is the company’s trademark.
It didn’t take long for letters to start arriving from other regions asking for Anne’s Pastry. It was apparent that people elsewhere ate the same product but called them chicken and dumplings, chicken stew, chicken slick, and pot pie. Finding a name for the product that would be recognizable to customers in other regions became a task. They first changed the name to Anne’s Dumplings For Chicken (Thin Pastry Strips), but as markets grew the name changed to Anne’s Flat Dumplings (Thin Pastry Strips). New recipes were developed for other uses for the products such as lasagna, casseroles, ravioli, baked crackers, fried sugared pastry, and other recipes.
The Grimes family has worked steadfastly to bring to the consumer the finest products by adding state of the art production lines and cryogenic freezing. They have developed other types of dumplings for areas that do not eat the traditional flat dumplings popular in Eastern North Carolina. As the market expanded, their products were not only sold to grocery warehouses for distribution to supermarkets, but to food service distributors that sell to restaurants, hospitals, and day care centers.
As consumers became more health conscious, the company began to look at developing new products to meet the growing interest in healthy eating. Adding to their dumpling line, they are now marketing Anne’s 100% Organic Flat Dumpling Strips, Anne’s 100% Whole Wheat Flat Dumpling Strips, and are currently in the development process of Anne’s Gluten Free (rice) Flat Dumpling Strips. Looking at their very popular original 16oz. Anne’s Chicken Base—which contains MSG—they decided to further that line with the addition of five new bases all in paste form that contain no MSG. Included in this new line are Anne’s Natural Chicken, Anne’s Natural Beef, Anne’s Natural Ham, Anne’s Organic Chicken, and Anne’s Organic Vegetable.
Harvest Time Foods has grown tremendously since the small beginnings in their carport and distribution is now in most states East of the Mississippi and some states West of it. The company outgrew the carport and two other buildings before building the current facility outside Ayden, N.C. in 1990. They added additional storage space in 1995 and additional freezer space in 1998 and 2001. The company’s owners believe that teamwork is essential to the success and growth of a business even when divine inspiration has set it into motion.
Harvest Time has been recognized by several entities including the national Small Business Administration (SBA) for its leadership, entrepreneurial achievement, and philanthropy. Their philanthropic activities have included feeding programs in the aftermath of Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd, donations to hurricane victims in Honduras, and a host of meal services in the local community.