Circus peanut

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Circus peanut
Main ingredientsSugar, corn syrup, gelatin, pectin, soy protein, food coloring, artificial flavor
Food energy
(per serving)
150 calories per 15 pieces kcal

Circus peanuts are peanut-shaped marshmallow candy.[1] They date to the 19th century, when they were one of a large variety of unwrapped "penny candy" sold in such retail outlets as five-and-dime stores.[2]

The first circus peanuts are long rumored to have originated in Omaha, Nebraska as the brainchild of chemical engineer Richard Dye. After fashioning a foam, peanut-shaped insulation for use in preventing drafts in his livestock barn, Knapp was said to have been so pleased with the texture and shape of the insulation that he was inspired to recreate it as a confection in his kitchen using edible ingredients. The treat delighted his family and friends, and he was encouraged to distribute small bags of the candy “peanuts” each year when the circus passed through town.[citation needed]

The most familiar variety of mass-produced circus peanuts in the 2010s is orange-colored and flavored with an artificial banana flavor. Confectioners originally distributed an orange-flavored variety that was only available seasonally due to a lack of packaging capable of preserving the candy. In the spring, five-and-dimes sold circus peanuts as penny candy. In the 1940s, circus peanuts became one of the many candies to become available year-round owing to the industrial proliferation of cellophane packaging.

As of the 2010s, mass-produced circus peanuts are made from sugar, corn syrup, gelatin,[3] pectin, soy protein, food coloring and artificial flavor.

Academics enjoying circus peanuts

Over the years, confectioners have also offered circus peanuts colored yellow, pink, and white, including a variety of flavors, though orange is still the most predominant color and banana the most common flavor, by far. The leading producers of circus peanuts are Melster Candies, Spangler Candy Company, and Brach's,[1] but they produce an essentially identical product. Circus peanuts sold in generic label bags in retail stores such as convenience stores, grocery stores, and drug stores are almost always manufactured by one of the three candy companies listed above, simply sold in a generic package. The Publix supermarket chain at one time sold generic circus peanuts under its own label, manufactured by Farley and Sathers. The serving size is 5 peanuts.


  1. ^ a b Seewer, John (June 27, 2006). "In candy world, circus peanut is a riddle wrapped in marshmallow inside orange shell". USA Today. Associated Press. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012. Retrieved June 18, 2008.
  2. ^ "Circus Peanuts". Spangler Candy. Archived from the original on July 2, 2014. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  3. ^ "FAQs". Spangler Candy. Archived from the original on July 4, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2009.

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