The Planter's Peanut: Getting to Know Mr. Peanut
Exploring Mr. Peanut's Roots
An Italian immigrant named Amedeo Obici dreamed up the Planter's Peanut vision in 1906 and in 1916 a contest was held to create a mascot for the new peanut company. Another visionary, this time a 14 year old teenage boy, named Antonio Gentile won the contest with his drawing of a peanut with a face. It was an artist who later added the cane, monocle and spats to the legendary peanut icon.
Planters and its snack food division is owned by Kraft Foods. Mr. Peanut has appeared on almost all of the divisions peanut snacks and a vast majority of the advertising. Mr. Peanut, besides being a legendary advertising icon, has appeared in cartoons and has either appeared in dialog or in character in many TV shows including Friends and Seinfeld . Mr. Peanut is a permanent character in the Beach Blanket Babylon , a musical revue.
In 2010, Kraft foods made the decision to put a voice to the peanut icon. This would be the first time that Mr. Peanut would speak. Actor Robert Downey, Jr. was hired for the voice over of Mr. Peanut in several humorous commercials. Mr. Peanut faces his nemesis, a nutcracker, in these funny video ads.
Peanuts originated in South America over 2000 years ago and were introduced to Europe and Africa by the Spanish and Portuguese. The African slaves introduced them to the American South. Dr. George Washington Carver is known as the "Father of the Peanut Industry" since he has invented over 300 uses for peanuts. The United States produces only 6% of the worlds peanut crop. Even though that percentage is small, 1.5 million tons of peanuts are produced in the U.S. annually. Americans consume three pounds of peanut butter per person per year.
The state of Georgia produces the largest amount of peanuts per year. Georgia's official state crop is the peanut. More than 50% of that crop goes to the production of peanut butter.
A one ounce serving of peanuts contains 150 calories, 14 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. Peanuts also contain small amounts of iron and calcium. Peanuts are also a good source of folate, vitamin e, niacin and manganese. They also contain resveratrol, the antioxidant found in red wine, making them a good choice for people trying to reduce their risk of heart disease.
The New Mr. Peanut Featuring Robert Downey, Jr.
Planter's Mr. Peanut Collectibles
Planter's Peanuts celebrated its 100TH birthday in 2006. There is over a century of items produced for Mr. Peanut. Collectible items range from Mr. Peanut display jars, jewelry, nesting boxes, clocks, books, print advertisement and retail signage. There are Mr. Peanut die cast toys, bowls, salt and pepper shakers, playing cards and dolls. Because Mr. Peanut memorabilia is highly collectible, there are fakes on the market, too!
Just like you would do when buying any vintage item or collectible, it pays to know your dealer and have as much information possible when shopping for your Mr. Peanut treasures. Ask questions about the item and do your homework before making a major investment in any item. Mr. Peanut Pez dispensers are all fakes and any Mr. Peanut jar that is colored is a fake as well. These are just a couple of tips I have learned online while researching about authentic Mr. Peanut collections.
Mr. Peanut jars by Anchor Hocking are highly collectible. These jars were used as point of sale display items in apothecary and grocery stores. The graphics usually contain a picture of Mr. Peanut and may or may not have a price and a description. Check out 4mrpeanut.com for more information.
Mr. Peanut collectible clocks come in many varieties. There are wall clocks advertising Mr. Peanut brand, alarm clocks, wrist watches and mantle pieces. Some of the cool wall clocks may have neon signage embedded in them.
Benjamin Medwin Ceramic
The Benjamin Medwin ceramic collection consists of salt and pepper shakers, a utensil holder, peanut serving dishes, a napkin holder, cookie jar, spoon rest and magnets. A Benjamin Medwin Mr. Peanuts bank has been found on ebay but this item is very rare as it was never mass produced. If you find one, hang on to it!
Mr. Peanut jewelry can be in the simple form of a plastic ring or a little more complex like a wrist watch. Currently, a 10k gold, diamond Mr. Peanut pendant fetches over $5,000 on ebay.
Die cast Mr. Peanut automobiles have been made by several companies. Look for a box truck made by LLEDO of London, Matchbox models and trucks produced by Liberty Classics.
Mr. Peanut toys come in all makes and models. There are paddle boards, cards, trucks, marbles, balloons, plush toys, costumes and figurines. Age and condition are major factors in the price of an item.
Of course, advertising is king! Vintage display figurines of Mr. Peanut sell for hundreds of dollars online and larger store statues of the salty guy can net you several thousands of dollars. Simple print advertising in mint condition can bring in the money, too! A simple matchbook with the Planter's Mr. Peanut logo sells for $100!
Happy hunting and collecting!
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