The much-beloved legume processing consortium went about killing their corporate mascot, bringing him back to life, killing him again, then turning him into a dolphin-speaking baby — complete with his own line of merchandise. If that last sentence felt like taking peyote, I’m right there with you.
So Planters had this whole thing where they planned to kill off Mr. Peanut. It was apparently a really big deal, because Twitter went wild over the proposed death of an anthropomorphized nut, and even our own editor in chief Graham MacAree just begged for the whole spectacle to end.
I make it a point to try and disappoint Graham wherever possible, so I’m going to give Planters the attention they so desperately crave and break down why I’m still thinking about their entire weird Super Bowl-week gimmick long after the game has ended.
It starts with Mr. Peanut’s death
I was here for Mr. Peanut kicking the bucket. I have a strong disdain for mascots that remind me of the thing I’m about to eat. I don’t want to think about Mr. Peanut while I’m presumably eating his extended family, the same way I wouldn’t enjoy Chester Cheetah if Cheetos were actually crushed up cheetah sweepings.
There’s an aspect to this, too, where I like to feel like I’m a part of history. In a way, it makes my small, insignificant life feel more meaningful. Mr. Peanut had been around since 1916. Think of all the people who have lived, loved, and died since then. I would get to experience his death, whereas countless others spent their entire existence in a reality where Mr. Peanut was alive and well.
I didn’t need a complicated backstory or a tale or heroism. Just kill that nut, Planters.
Then things got weird when I saw his obituary.
This 104-year-old nut was never named Mr. Peanut. Apparently his name was always Mr. Bartholomew Richard Fitzgerald-Smythe, we just didn’t know it. This is the kind of random corporate nonsense I expect most people had a small chuckle at, kept scrolling, and moved on with their life.
I was horrified.
Planters had pushed the narrative that Fitzgerald-Smythe was called Mr. Peanut, because he was a peanut. This was not his name. It didn’t not represent his history or lineage, or honor the family that came before him. Planters literally just called him after his race, and pedaled the lie to the world.
It would have been one thing if Mr. Peanut wanted to be called Mr. Peanut. Instead, we had a corporation imploring the world to buy into a lazy stereotype without questioning it. We were all implicitly guilty of legume racism, and I hate that I didn’t know until now.
OK, it’s time to talk about Baby Nut
God, I’m sorry I have to write and think of the term “Baby Nut.” These are not two words that should ever, ever go next to each other. Tiny Nut, Little Nut — all fine, but Baby Nut? I feel like I should go to prison just for thinking about it.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll just throw a bone to the corporate fat cats at Big Nut and let you see the commercial.
What in the name of salted protein hell is going on here? We have the funeral for Mr. Peanut, which the Kool-Aid Man and Mr. Clean are attending for some reason, then a bunch of real-ass humans. Next thing we know, Kool-Aid Man cries on Mr. Peanut’s corpse, which causes him to grow back like Groot and start squawking like a dolphin.
Jesus, there’s a lot to unpack here. Firstly, if Mr. Peanut was always capable of asexual reproduction, then how did he hide this from the world for over 100 years? Surely there was a sizable life insurance policy on Mr. Peanut by Planters protecting their corporate mascot, should he lose his life. Does this mean that at no point did Mr. Peanut divulge that he could just re-grow with some tears if he were to die? That is extremely negligent.
Also, what is Mr. Peanut’s sense of humor, precisely? He appears to think that talking like a dolphin is a good joke. I mean, you’re holding a baby peanut here. Nobody is expected to know what a baby peanut sounds like. If could sound like a thousand Cthulhus screaming into the glove box of a 1997 Toyota Tercel for all we know, and we’d believe it. So why a dolphin? Why?
Baby Nut sucks. Baby Nut should never have been born. I hate saying Baby Nut, and yet I can’t stop saying Baby Nut.
Buy this item and get put on a watch list
Ah yes, because nothing says “sensible marketing” like the image of a child and the phrase “Lookin’ like a snack.”
Seriously, there’s a whole shop of Baby Nut merchandise, and I think the customer list should be part of the public record. There should be a special symbol included with background checks, drug tests and photo IDs letting people know who bought Baby Nut merchandise. It’s to protect us from them.
Above all else, I feel bad for Planters. I feel bad that somewhere, in some board meeting, I imagine a Don Draper-esque sales pitch behind this unique, dynamic advertising campaign which cost tens of millions of dollars.
What Planters didn’t know is this entire concept was scribbled on the back of a stained cocktail napkin at a Chili’s bar, and all that napkin said was:
So we ended up with a second-rate, designed-to-be-cute-but-hellish-in-real-life peanut baby who deserved to be crushed in a vise and spread on a piece of toast. I hate Baby Nut. I am weirded out by how all this went down, and I’m mostly angry at myself because I’ve invested time and energy into talking about it.
The brands won.