Mr. Peanut

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Mr. Peanut
Planters character
Mr peanut.png
First appearance1916
Created byAntonio Gentile
Voiced byRobert Downey Jr. (2010–2013)
Bill Hader (2013–2017)
CompanyKraft Heinz
In-universe information
Full nameBartholomew Richard Fitzgerald-Smythe[1]
SpeciesA. hypogaea
GenderMale
OccupationMascot, gentleman, hero

Mr. Peanut is the advertising logo and mascot of Planters, an American snack-food company and division of Kraft Heinz based in Chicago, Illinois. He is depicted as an anthropomorphic peanut in its shell dressed in the formal clothing of an old-fashioned gentleman: top hat, monocle, white gloves, spats, and a cane. He is reportedly of British heritage and has the proper name of Bartholomew Richard Fitzgerald-Smythe.[1][2]

Newspaper ad, introducing Mr. Peanut to the public, dated 1917.

History[edit]

A hot air balloon in the shape of Mr. Peanut

Planters Peanut Company was founded in 1906, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, by Amedeo Obici and was incorporated two years later as the Planters Nut and Chocolate Company. In 1916, a young schoolboy, Antonio Gentile, submitted drawings of an anthropomorphic peanut to a design contest.[3] After Gentile's design was chosen, the commercial artist Andrew S. Wallach added the monocle, top hat, and cane to create the iconic image.[4] While Gentile's family originally received five dollars for winning the contest, Obici befriended them and paid Antonio’s, and four of his siblings', way through college. After Obici paid Antonio's way through medical school, he became a doctor in Newport News, where he died of a heart attack in 1939.[5]

There is a disputed claim that Frank P. Krize Sr., a Wilkes-Barre artist and head of the Suffolk plant, made the additions of the monocle, top hat and cane. Andrew Wallach's daughter, Virginia, maintains that Krize joined the project after Mr. Peanut was created. Neither Planters' history nor other sources still in circulation positively identify the artist.[6][7]

By the mid-1930s, the raffish figure had come to symbolize the entire peanut industry. Mr. Peanut has appeared on almost every Planters package and advertisement. He is now one of the best-known icons in advertising history.[8]

Mr. Peanut goes to war poster by the United States Department of Agriculture

Mr. Peanut has appeared in many TV commercials as an animated cartoon character. More recent commercials have shown him stop motion animated in a real-world setting.

In 2006, Planters conducted an online contest to determine whether to add a bow tie, cufflinks, or a pocketwatch to Mr. Peanut. The public voted for no change.[9]

While the character's television commercials were often accompanied by an accented narrator, Mr. Peanut never had dialogue. On November 8, 2010, Planters announced that actor Robert Downey Jr. would become Mr. Peanut's first-ever voice actor.[10]

In 2011, Mr. Peanut's "stunt double" named Peanut Butter Doug was introduced to tie in with the Planter's Peanut Butter launch. The character is voiced by Kevin Dillon.[11]

On July 1, 2013, Planters cast comedian and Saturday Night Live alumnus Bill Hader as the voice for a campaign focusing on its Planters Nut-rition product line.[12]

In 2017, the Virginia General Assembly passed a joint resolution commending Mr. Peanut.[13]

In 2018, Mr. Peanut was once again revamped, albeit for the first time since 2009, he became speechless again.[14][15][16]

Death of Mr. Peanut[edit]

On January 22, 2020, Planters released a teaser for its Super Bowl LIV commercial featuring Mr. Peanut, Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh. The trio were shown hanging onto a branch after accidentally driving the Nutmobile off a cliff to avoid an armadillo, with Mr. Peanut electing to let go and fall to his death onto the Nutmobile, which then explodes. The company's social media outlets stated that his funeral would be the subject of Planters' Super Bowl ad.[17][18][19]

Planters suspended the campaign shortly after the 2020 Calabasas helicopter crash which resulted in the death of everyone on board the flight, including former NBA player Kobe Bryant on January 26. They eventually resumed the campaign with the Super Bowl commercial, which showed Snipes and Walsh presiding over the funeral of Mr. Peanut, also attended by fellow mascots Kool-Aid Man and Mr. Clean. However, Kool-Aid Man's tears combined with sunlight cause a new, younger incarnation of Mr. Peanut, dubbed "Baby Nut", to grow from the soil.[20]

Baby Nut & Peanut Jr.[edit]

Since the premiere of the commercial, the Planters Twitter account has been used to make posts in-character as Baby Nut. It also retweeted posts from several Baby Nut meme accounts created before the ad aired, prompting Twitter to suspend them under the presumption that they were created by the company's agency to manipulate the platform in violation of its terms of use.[21]

The campaign faced a mixed reaction from viewers, while comparisons were drawn between the character and other juvenile incarnations of characters seen in media, such as "Baby Yoda" of The Mandalorian, and Groot.[22][23]

Explaining the intent of the campaign, a spokesman for Planters's advertising agency cited the examples of superhero deaths in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for how such a death could connect with viewers and potential customers.[24]

In August 2020, a continuation of the campaign launched, where Baby Nut is revealed to have aged into a 21 year-old young adult, "Peanut Jr."[25] This decision resulted in much more volatile reactions than Baby Nut's campaign, with a tweet encouraging others to block Peanut Jr.'s account becoming viral.[26]

The campaign ended in February 2021, with Mr. Peanut returning to adulthood; Planters announced it would not "spend $5 million dropping (the character) off a cliff" and would instead invest the money into highlighting people "who made the world a little less nutty" in 2020.[27]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the 2010 novel Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross, a man fantasizes about killing his peanut-allergic wife by force-feeding her peanuts.[28] "He poured out a handful and ate them and then wiped the salt from his empty hand on his pants. He looked at the chipper Planters Peanuts man tipping his top hat hello and thought about how one bite could kill Alice dead."[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Official Twitter of Mr. Peanut". Twitter.com. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
  2. ^ Tomshinsky, Ida (May 20, 2013). The Chronicle of Hats in Enjoyable Quotes: History of Fashion Accessories Series. ISBN 978-1-4797-9909-1.
  3. ^ Dotz, Warren; Morton, Jim (1996). What a Character! 20th Century American Advertising Icons. Chronicle Books. p. 25. ISBN 0-8118-0936-6.
  4. ^ Cross, Mary (2002). A Century of American Icons: 100 Products and Slogans from the 20th-Century Consumer Culture. Greenwood Press. pp. 36–37. ISBN 978-0313314810. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  5. ^ "The father of Mr. Peanut - The Suffolk News-Herald". suffolknewsherald.com.
  6. ^ "Mr. Peanut Collectors Club". peanutpals.org.
  7. ^ "Planters History of the Planter Nut: Timeline". Retrieved June 6, 2010.
  8. ^ Smith, Andrew F. (2007). The Oxford companion to American food and drink. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-530796-2. Retrieved December 6, 2010.
  9. ^ Tomshinsky, Ida (2013). The Chronicle of Hats in Enjoyable Quotes: History of Fashion Accessories Series. Xlibris Corporation. p. 21. ISBN 9781479799091.
  10. ^ Elliott, Stuart (November 7, 2010). "Mr. Peanut's New Look? Old School". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  11. ^ "Mr. Peanut Now Selling Planters Peanut Butter". gluttoner.com.
  12. ^ Elliott, Stuart (July 1, 2013). "Look Who's Talking for Mr. Peanut Now". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  13. ^ "HJ796 Commending Mr. Peanut". Virginia LIS.
  14. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRM4r1DRk3o
  15. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fvJzELX19E
  16. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdblnG7JAe8
  17. ^ "Planters really has killed off Mr. Peanut, with a funeral planned for the Super Bowl". adage.com. January 22, 2020. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  18. ^ "Mr. Peanut Is Killed in Teaser for Planters Super Bowl Ad". Adweek.com. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  19. ^ Cooper, Gael Fashingbauer. "Super Bowl commercials 2020: Mr. Peanut dies and Bill Nye makes a green plea". CNET. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  20. ^ "Here's How Mr. Peanut Was Resurrected During the Super Bowl". Adweek. Retrieved February 3, 2020.
  21. ^ Farokhmanesh, Megan (February 3, 2020). "Twitter boots Planters' Baby Nut meme accounts for violating its rules". The Verge. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  22. ^ "Baby Nut or Baby Yoda? Planters' Super Bowl commercial sparks debate". Global News. Retrieved February 3, 2020.
  23. ^ Yeo, Amanda. "The internet wants to grind Baby Nut into peanut butter for Baby Yoda". Mashable. Retrieved February 3, 2020.
  24. ^ "Planters ad agency VaynerMedia explains why they killed off Mr. Peanut". CNBC. January 23, 2020. Retrieved February 3, 2020.
  25. ^ "Remember Baby Nut? This year is so strange that the Planters character is now 21". adage.com. August 11, 2020. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
  26. ^ Bradley, Diana (August 11, 2020). "A shellebration turns salty: Why #BlockMrPeanut is trending". PRWeek.
  27. ^ https://www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle/mr-peanut-planters-super-bowl
  28. ^ Sunday Book Review, "Death Match", New York Times
  29. ^ Ross, Adam (2010). Mr. Peanut. Borzoi Books. p. 265. ISBN 978-0-307-27070-2. Retrieved December 6, 2010.
  30. ^ Milroy, Sarah (September 28, 2012). "Mr. Peanut's lasting impact on Vancouver". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved August 19, 2013.

External links[edit]