Mr. Peanut

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Mr. Peanut at Times Square

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

History[edit]

A hot air balloon in the shape of Mr. Peanut
Newspaper ad, introducing Mr. Peanut to the public, dated 1917.

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. The factory in Wilkes-Barre has since closed down. In 1916 a young schoolboy, Antonio Gentile, submitted drawings of an anthropomorphic peanut to a design contest. After Gentile's design was chosen, the commercial artist Andrew S. Wallach added the monocle, top hat and cane to create the iconic image. 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.[2]

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 Planter's history nor other sources still in circulation positively identify the artist.[3][4]

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.[5]

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.[citation needed]

While the character's television commercials were often accompanied by an elegant accented narrator, Mr. Peanut never had dialogue. On November 8, 2010, Planters announced that Mr. Peanut would officially be given a voice, supplied by American actor Robert Downey Jr..[6]

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.[7]

Planters announced on July 1, 2013 that its mascot, Mr. Peanut, would be voiced by comedian and Saturday Night Live alumnus Bill Hader,[8] who is sometimes allergic to peanuts.[9]

In 2017, the Virginia General Assembly passed a joint resolution commending Mr. Peanut.[10]

In literature[edit]

  • In the 2010 novel Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross, a man fantasizes about killing his peanut-allergic wife by force-feeding her peanuts.[11] "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."[12]

In popular culture[edit]

Sculpture of Mr. Peanut seated on a bench in Atlantic City, NJ, August, 2006. The sculpture was later removed.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Official Twitter of Mr. Peanut". Twitter.com. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  2. ^ "The father of Mr. Peanut - The Suffolk News-Herald". suffolknewsherald.com.
  3. ^ "Mr. Peanut Collectors Club". peanutpals.org.
  4. ^ "Planters History of the Planter Nut: Timeline". Retrieved 2010-06-06.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "Robert Downey Jr. is Mr. Peanut". avclub.com.
  7. ^ "Mr. Peanut Now Selling Planters Peanut Butter". gluttoner.com.
  8. ^ "Mr. Peanut Has a New Voice". The Daily Meal.
  9. ^ "Bill Hader's Peanut Allergy Scare". teamcoco.com.
  10. ^ "HJ796 Commending Mr. Peanut". Virginia LIS.
  11. ^ Sunday Book Review, "Death Match", New York Times
  12. ^ Ross, Adam (2010). Mr. Peanut. Borzoi Books. p. 265. ISBN 978-0-307-27070-2. Retrieved December 6, 2010.
  13. ^ Milroy, Sarah (28 September 2012). "Mr. Peanut's lasting impact on Vancouver". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
  14. ^ Leadbeater, Alex (October 21, 2014). "20 Mind-Blowing Facts You Never Knew About American Dad". WhatCulture.com.
  15. ^ Hersey, Mark D. (August 29, 2011). "My Work Is That of Conservation: An Environmental Biography of George Washington Carver". University of Georgia Press – via Google Books.
  16. ^ Paul Rudnick (29 November 2010). "Nutty". The New Yorker.
  17. ^ "Peanut". coldfront.net.
  18. ^ Taylor, Luke (2019-07-08). "I Was Banned From Twitter for Threatening to Kill Mr. Peanut". Vice Media. Archived from the original on 2019-07-10. Retrieved 2019-07-11. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  19. ^ Beer, Jeff (2019-07-09). "You know someone crossed a line when people are defending Brand Twitter". Fast Company. Retrieved 2019-07-11.

External links[edit]