Monday, March 19, 2007

Mr. Peanut

Perhaps the oldest and most well-known anthropomorphic food character is that debonair legume, Mr. Peanut. Planter's Peanuts was founded in 1906 in Wilkes-Barre, PA by two Italian immigrants, Amedeo Obici and Mario Peruzzi. In 1916, after much success and expansion of the business to Suffolk, VA, Obici and Peruzzi held a contest to create a trademark for their brand. A fourteen year old boy was the winner of $5 for his drawing of an anthropomorphic peanut. An artist embellished it with a top hat, cane, and monocle. And the rest is food with eyes history.

My personal experience with Mr. Peanut goes back to early childhood. My grandparents owned a small Italian-American grocery store in Northeastern Pennsylvania, very near to Mr. Peanut's hometown of Wilkes-Barre. A perk of being in the grocery business is receiving advertising premiums from the various food companies. At some point early on I realized I was drinking from a straw with a Mr. Peanut top...

and writing with a Mr. Peanut mechanical pencil.

These utilitarian objects were soon retired from use and became the foundation of a full-fledged Mr. Peanut collection. While the collection is no longer growing, it does contain some interesting items that will be featured in upcoming posts.

1 comment:

bwestphal said...

Looking for mr peanut mechanical pencil with mr. peanut encased in a plastic like cylinder ontop of the pencil which I seem to recall was yellow. No eraser- this was in the "50's". Please help with this search. ANYONE!!