Out of the Box: How Pastry Chef Caitlyn Cox Levels Up Buc-ee’s Beaver Nuggets

A DIY snack mix and a marshmallowy cereal treat get a boost from the gas-station go-to

A cereal treat made of marshmallow and peanut nuggets

Photo: courtesy of Caitlyn Cox

Cox makes Beaver Nugget cereal treats for her colleagues at RT Lodge.

Parents of small children might be reassured to know that even professional chefs have trouble satisfying their picky-eating offspring. Caitlyn Cox, pastry chef at the Restaurant at RT Lodge in Maryville, Tennessee, faces the dual challenge of feeding a pint-sized critic at home and fueling her own long days at work. She whips up one dish to solve both: a DIY snack mix featuring Buc-ee’s Beaver Nuggets.

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“I have a toddler, so it’s good to have snacks,” says Cox, who baked her way through beloved establishments like Savannah’s Back in the Day Bakery and Nashville’s Henrietta Red before arriving at RT Lodge. “A new Buc-ee’s opened in Knoxville last spring, and my husband loves the Beaver Nuggets. I started mixing them with healthier things like pretzels and nuts. That way, when my son is being picky, we have something for him to eat.”

photo: Courtesy of RT Lodge
Caitlyn Cox.

Cox herself enjoys the crunch and sweetness of the caramel-coated puff corn, one of Buc-ee’s bestsellers. “It makes for a nice contrast when you add salty snacks in. I’m busy all day—I don’t have time to sit down and eat a meal. Sometimes it’s helpful to get some nutrients in and keep going,” she says. She changes the ingredients of her mix based on what she has available, be it Peanut Butter M&M’s, Chex cereal, Bugles, or Cheez-Its. “You don’t have to follow a recipe; that’s the beauty of it.”

A Texas-based rest stop meets gas station, Buc-ee’s is known for its wide-ranging inventory, huge parking lots, clean restrooms, and recognizable beaver mascot. With forty-seven locations from Florida to Missouri, it attracts a cult following for its packaged snacks in particular. Cox purchases multiple bags of Beaver Nuggets at a time, to minimize trips. Then she mixes up a big batch and stores it in a sealed container for up to two weeks.

Though she occasionally shares her snack mix with colleagues at RT Lodge, Cox prefers to make them a different spinoff of Beaver Nuggets—her own riff on Rice Krispies Treats. It’s an indulgence best served fresh: “Everyone loves a homemade cereal treat, and not often do you get a fresh one right off the stove,” she says.


  • BEAVER NUGGET CEREAL TREATS (Yield: One 8x8 pan)

    • 3 tbsp. brown butter

    • 1 tsp. vanilla

    • 2 tsp. salt

    • 5½ cups miniature marshmallows

    • 6 cups Beaver Nuggets


  1. Melt brown butter, vanilla, salt, and marshmallows together in a pot. Once melted, add in Beaver Nuggets, and stir until combined. Pour into an 8×8 pan to mold. Let cool.