“The Nickel Lunch!” Through the 1930s and 1940s, Planters used this tagline to market the affordability of their peanut products. Today, the company’s website has “Naturally Remarkable” emblazoned over a link to their environmental sustainability initiatives. While Planters’ advertising campaign has changed multiple time over the past century, there is no doubt that Planters has been enjoyed by generations of Americans as a good ‘ole American product.
In 1906, the Italian immigrant, Amedeo Obici discovered a new method for blanching peanuts in Pennsylvania and Planters was born. Though his firm was purchased by Standard Brands in 1960, which then merged with Nabisco Brands in 1981 and then was acquired by Kraft Foods in 2000, Obici’s focus on “quality” and “brand name” has lasted generations.
Planters Peanuts is distinguished by one of the most recognizable icons in American advertising history, Mr. Peanut. The character was first created by a fourteen year-old schoolboy, Antonio Gentile, who won the company’s logo contest in 1916. An artist later added Mr. Peanut’s trademark top hat, monocle, and spats and Mr. Peanut became the symbol of the peanut industry. Go ahead and try to name another icon from the nut industry.
Peanuts as a product is deeply rooted in American food culture. In 1906, the song, “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” debuted. The verse, “buy me some peanuts” connected Peanuts to America’s Favorite Pastime. During World War II, Mr. Peanut became a symbol of the American war effort and from 1939-1945 promoted war saving stamps. In 1991, Mr Peanut went political and visited Capitol Hill on his 75th birthday and in 1999 became the official snack of NASCAR.
Mr. Peanut is more than just a food icon but a generational symbol of the American spirit. Cheap enough to feed the hungry during the Great Depression, bold enough to raise money during World War II, and charismatic enough to be a popular icon in sports as well…who knew a food icon could do so much.
Though I am allergic to peanuts and will never be able to enjoy them, I can appreciate the great work Mr. Peanut has done for our country.