A peanut gallery was, in the days of vaudeville, a nickname for the cheapest and ostensibly rowdiest seats in the theater, the occupants of which were often known to heckle the performers. The least expensive snack served at the theatre would often be peanuts, which the patrons would sometimes throw at the performers on stage to convey their disapproval. Phrases such as "no comments from the peanut gallery" or "quiet in the peanut gallery" are extensions of the name.
In 1943 the Howdy Doody children's radio show adopted the name for its live audience of children. Howdy Doody is most remembered for its later transition to television, which continued the Peanut Gallery audience, now on camera.
In popular culture
In recent times, the term has taken on new meanings with the advent of social networks and online chat rooms. "Peanut gallery" may also refer to the stream of open comments visible on certain types of blogs.
It has been thought that "peanut gallery" may have been the source of the name for Charles Schulz' comic strip, Peanuts: a name Schulz bitterly resented and never understood. Schulz had wanted to keep the strip's original name, Lil' Folks. However, United Features Syndicate pointed out that, at the time, there had been several other comic strips with similar-sounding names. Thus, Peanuts was chosen.
- Rowland, Ian (April 1999). "What's the origin of the expression 'peanut gallery'?". The Straight Dope. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
- Smith, Andrew F. (2002). Peanuts: The Illustrious History of the Goober Pea. University of Illinois Press. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-252-02553-2.
- "Bacteriophages". BIO230 (Web log). Word press. Fall 2010. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
- "Felipão criou o apelido "Turma do Amendoim" no Palmeiras; leia trecho" [Felipão created the ‘Peanut gang’ nickname: read passage]. Folha de S. Paulo (in Portuguese). Folha da manhã. Folha Online. November 9, 2009. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
- The dictionary definition of peanut gallery at Wiktionary