Jump to content

Peanut gallery

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Howdy Doody peanut gallery, late 1940s–1950s

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.[1] 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.[1] According to Stuart Berg Flexner, the term owes its origin to the United States' segregated South as a synonym with the back seats or upper balcony where the black members of the audience sat.[2] The racial element of the term's origin is disputed, however, and absent from the Oxford English Dictionary and others.[3][4]

In 1943 the Howdy Doody children's radio show adopted the name for its live audience of children.[5] Howdy Doody is most remembered for its later transition to television, which continued the Peanut Gallery audience, then on camera. "Peanut gallery" may have been the source of the name for Charles Schulz's comic strip, Peanuts:[6] a name Schulz bitterly resented and never understood.[7] Schulz had wanted to keep the name of his previous strip, Li'l Folks. However, United Features Syndicate pointed out that that name was too similar to other strips such as Little Folks and Li'l Abner.[8] Thus, Peanuts was chosen.

A similar term was introduced to Brazilian football by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. He called Palmeiras' complaining audience that sat in the closest seats "peanut gang" (Portuguese: Turma do Amendoim).[9] C. J. Dennis's poem "The Play" from Songs of a Sentimental Bloke, recapitulating the suicide scene from Romeo and Juliet, ends bathetically with "Peanuts or lollies!" sez a boy upstairs."[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rowland, Ian (April 1999). "What's the origin of the expression 'peanut gallery'?". The Straight Dope. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
  2. ^ Flexner, Stuart Berg (1982). Listening to America: An Illustrated History of Words and Phrases from Our Lively and Splendid Past. Simon and Schuster. p. 438. ISBN 9780671248956.
  3. ^ "Is "Peanut Gallery" a Racial Term?". March 13, 2015.
  4. ^ "PEANUT GALLERY | English meaning - Cambridge Dictionary".
  5. ^ Smith, Andrew F. (2002). Peanuts: The Illustrious History of the Goober Pea. University of Illinois Press. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-252-02553-2.
  6. ^ Michaelis, David (2007). Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography. New York: HarperCollins. p. 219. ISBN 978-0-06-621393-4.
  7. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions: The Peanuts Comic Strip". Charles M. Schulz Museum. Archived from the original on October 21, 2018. Retrieved June 24, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  8. ^ Inge, M. Thomas (2000). Charles M. Schulz: Conversations. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. p. 146. ISBN 1-57806-304-3.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ C. J. Dennis (1914). "The Play (from Songs of a Sentimental Bloke)". Retrieved September 19, 2022.