Now a grandmother of three herself, Montgomery native Onita Payton is honoring her “Grandma Carrie” with every batch of the smooth and rich banana pudding she makes at her sweet shop The Big O’s Nana Pudding. And she’s kept it all a family affair, naming her business in honor of her dad.
When and why did you open The Big O’s Nana Pudding? BIG O opened in 2019, and it came about due to all the encouragement I got from family and friends. Making banana pudding (and other desserts) started off as a hobby—and really still is—but so many people started enjoying the nana pudding and told me I should sell it.
Why focus on banana pudding? I bake brownies, cookies and cupcakes. But I focus on “nana puddin’” because it is just a “feel good” dessert. It reminds me so much of my Grandma Carrie. She’s the blueprint for it all!
Where did the name Big O come from? I named the company after my dad, Otis. I have a family member that calls me, Lil O, because he said I favored my dad so much, so I figured I would just go with Big O.
What makes your banana pudding special? There are so many different flavors to choose from. I’ve put twists on the traditional Southern dessert by using Oreos instead of Nilla Wafers sometimes or combining the flavors of other favorite desserts like sweet potato pie, pineapple upside down cake and blueberry cobbler with banana pudding to create something completely unique.
What do you find the most rewarding about your work and your restaurant? I love giving customers a bunch of different tastes to explore. It never gets boring.
Knocking out countless pans of nana pudding calls for a whole lotta of the tropical fruit that gives the classic dessert its hallmark flavor. At The Big O’s Nana Pudding, Onita Payton goes through about 15-20 bunches of bananas a month, not including holidays or special events.