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Planters and Mr. Peanut: A Tasty History

The ever dapper Mr. Peanut
The ever dapper Mr. Peanut
Photo courtesy of April Rueber

No offense to Mounds and Almond Joy, but I've never been able to relate to their slogan:

"Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don't."

Because, um, I always feel like a nut (and you can take that in the figurative sense as well). I may not always want nuts in my chocolate bar or cookie, but I'm never not in the mood for salty legumes. And if you ever witness me turn down an offer of nuts, it's only because I know in that particular instance I will NOT be able to restrain myself from eating the entire jar.

I don't feel too guilty, however, about bingeing on nuts because of the ever-increasing evidence of their health benefits.

And readers of this blog also know that I have a penchant for food history, and highly enjoy what I like to call "culinary re-enactments."

This story continues on the next page.  

How's this for some nutty food porn?
How's this for some nutty food porn?
Photo courtesy of April Rueber

Which is why I am tickled by the history of Planters Peanuts, specifically the adorable origins of Mr. Peanut, who was created in 1916 by a 14-year-old from Pennsylvania (holla!) named Antonio Gentile. Although Mr. Peanut's form and figure have changed over the years, I give props to Planters (which was founded in 1906 and is now a division of Kraft Foods) for making sure he always appears with a monocle. (Seriously, monocles -- everyone should have one.)

Mr. Peanut (whose real name is Bartholomew Richard Fitzgerald-Smythe) serves as the mascot for a plethora of Planters products. I'll always be a fan of the classic dry-roasted, lightly salted canister of peanuts, and in recent years I've become more interested in their limited-edition mixes, as well as their varieties of trail mix (particularly the ones containing chocolate).

Apparently Mr. Peanut most recently approved a line of Planters peanut butters in flavors such as creamy, cherry chocolate, and banana granola crunch. I have yet to try any, but that's likely to change in the future. Readers, look forward to an intense review scrutinizing these nut butters and lots of PB&J sammies.


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