Mr. Peanut, the cane-twirling, salty old patriarch of Planter’s Nuts died suddenly yesterday while driving the Nutmobile. According to passengers and longtime friends Matt Walsh and Wesley Snipes (see photo, top of page), Peanut swerved to miss an armadillo crossing a mountain road sending the Nutmobile over a cliff.
R.I.P. Mr. Peanut: 1906 – 2020
“It’s with heavy hearts that we confirm MR. PEANUT has passed away at 104 years old,” PLANTERS Brand Manager at Kraft Heinz Samantha Hess said in a statement released yesterday morning.
Mr. Peanut was born in 1916 when a schoolboy from Wilkes Barre, PA, Antonio Gentile, entered a drawing of the familiar mascot in a Planters Peanuts contest.
According to Wikipedia: “By the mid-1930s, the raffish figure had come to symbolize the entire peanut industry. Mr. Peanut has appeared on almost every Planters package and advertisement. He is now one of the best-known icons in advertising history.”
During the Second World War, the U.S. Department of Agriculture enlisted Mr. Peanut as a celebrity spokesnut to encourage Americans to plant victory gardens and emphasize the critical importance of the Peanut Industry to wartime nutrition.
Mr. Peanut went on to star in uncounted advertisements and a series of animated TV commercials for his product over the years.
In 2017, marking his 100th birthday, the Virginia General Assembly honoured him with a joint resolution commending him for his contribution to the state’s culture and economy.
Why now? Why so dramatically?
Group creative director at Planters’ agency VaynerMedia, Mike Pierantozzi, said his team was put in a tough spot – coming up with a Superbowl Spot that would top last year’s Planters ad. Discussion turned to the incredible social media play cultural icons get these days when they pass away. One thing led to another and…
“We did the unthinkable.” Pierantozzi said. “We created a program […] where Mr. Peanut dies, and dies specifically sacrificing himself for his friends, which has always been a tenet of who he is and what he does — he always put others first.”
Close friends who asked not to be named said that, at age 104, Mr. Peanut might better have have surrendered his driver’s license a decade or so earlier.
A celebration of life
Bystander video of the crash (see above) will appear on the Superbowl broadcast before the kickoff. Friends and fans are invited to join in a 60-second ‘funeral’ service later in the game.
“He will be remembered as the legume who always brought people together for nutty adventures and a good time. We encourage fans to tune in to Mr. Peanut’s funeral during the third quarter of the Super Bowl to celebrate his life,” Hess said.
~ Maggie J.