QUESTION: In what city did a life-sized Mr. Peanut make his first major appearance?
A) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
B) Philadelphia, Mississippi
C) Scranton, Pennsylvania
D) Atlantic City, New Jersey
There are pretty much two types of people in the world: people who love peanuts and people who are deathly allergic to them. Hopefully, those with the allergies will not have a negative reaction to this blog, because today is dedicated to the most famous monocled peanut in the world - Mr. Peanut! He was the invention of a little Virginia boy named Antonio Gentile, who won a contest to create a mascot for Planters Peanuts. Which means we pretty much have to talk a little bit about Planters to make sense of the whole thing.
The Planters Peanuts Company was not, contrary to what common sense would tell us, established in the southern United States where peanuts are grown, but rather a Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania creation. It was the brainchild of an Italian immigrant named Amedeo Obici, who moved to the United States as a child. His widowed mother stayed in Italy while the non-English speaking Amedeo traveled alone, an uncle's address attached to his shirt. He was eventually taken to an Italian home in Wilkes-Barre in 1889, which would have been perfect if that's where his uncle lived, but his uncle lived in nearby Scranton. Regardless, Amedeo befriended the Wilkes-Barre family, the Musante's, who ran a fruit stand. He worked for them, eventually married their daughter and opening his own fresh-roasted peanut stand.
Things went well for Amedeo. He brought the rest of his family over from Italy, and got a partner to grow the peanut company. By 1908 they were incorporated as the Planters Nut and Chocolate Company, and their growth continued from there. By the early-1930's, it was time to create a mascot for Planters, and that's where young Antonio Gentile came into the picture. A contest was created, and Antonio submitted the winning idea - a smiling peanut with arms and legs (the monocle and formal wear was added later. For his prize, Antonio won five dollars. And Mr. Peanut has been tantalizing people ever since!
Oh, and we have a collectible spoon with Mr. Peanut on it.
ANSWER: D) Atlantic City, New Jersey. One of his costumes is currently on display at the Atlantic City Historical Museum