On September 13 National Peanut Day pays homage to mighty and tasty peanut.
Likely originating in South America around 3,500 years ago, this legume is not a nut. They grow underground like potatoes. Since they are an edible seed that forms in a pod, they belong to the family Leguminosae with peas and beans.
For the longest time, livestock gained the greatest benefit from all these nutrients. Until modern methods came along, planting and harvesting peanuts were a labor intensive and risky endeavors for farmers.Gradually their popularity grew. From Civil War soldiers who found a fondness for them to PT Barnum’s traveling circus. But what made it possible for peanuts to be grown in abundance was an advancement in farm technology. Just like the cotton gin revolutionized the cotton industry, planters and harvesters transformed not only the peanut farm but farming the world over.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack ~ lyric from Take Me Out to the Ballgame (1908) by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer.
When the boll weevil wreaked havoc on the South’s cotton crop, Dr. George Washington Carver, who had already been researching this amazing groundnut, suggested farmers diversify into peanuts. It was an economic boon to Southern farmers. He published his research “How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption” in 1916. His continued research resulted in more than delicious uses for this goober, groundnut or ground pea. From shaving cream to plastics and cosmetics and even coffee, Dr. Carver’s appetite for the peanut seemed to be unending.
Many of the peanut discoveries Dr. Carver made 100 years ago are still being used today.
- It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.
- There are enough peanuts in one acre to make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches.
- By law, any product labeled “peanut butter” in the United States must be at least 90 percent peanuts.
- Peanut butter was first introduced to the USA in 1904 at the Universal Exposition in St. Louis by C.H. Sumner, who sold $705.11 of the “new treat” at his concession stand.
- In 1884, Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Montreal, Quebec was the first person to patent peanut butter.
- It takes fewer than 5 gallons of water to produce 1 ounce of peanuts. (Bonus fact: 1 ounce of almonds takes 80 gallons)
- The average peanut farm is 200 acres.
- The Huffington Post (Sept. 2014) asked, “What makes the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Results show: 36% say strawberry jam is favorite (grape is 31%); favorite bread is white bread (54%); favorite type of peanut butter is smooth (56%) and a whopping 80% like their PB & J with the crust left on the sandwich.
- Two peanut farmers have been elected president of the USA – Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson and Georgia’s Jimmy Carter.
- Former President Bill Clinton says one of his favorite sandwiches is peanut butter and banana; also reported to have been the favorite of Elvis “the King” Presley.
- There are six cities in the U.S. named Peanut: Peanut, California; Lower Peanut, Pennsylvania; Upper Peanut, Pennsylvania; Peanut, Pennsylvania, Peanut, Tennessee; and Peanut West Virginia.
- According to Little Brownie Bakers, cookie bakers use about 230,000 pounds of peanut butter per week to bake Girl Scout’s Do-si-dos and Tagalongs.
- Women and children prefer creamy peanut butter, while most men opt for chunky.
- People living on the East Coast prefer creamy peanut butter, while those on the West Coast prefer the crunchy style.
- Boiled peanuts are considered a delicacy in the peanut growing areas of the South. Freshly harvested peanuts are boiled in a brine until they are of a soft bean-like texture.
- There are four types of peanuts grown in the USA — Runner, Virginia, Spanish and Valencia.
- The average American consumes more than six pounds of peanuts and peanut butter products each year.
- Peanuts contribute more than $4 billion to the USA economy each year.
- Grand Saline, TX holds the title for the world’s largest peanut butter and jelly sandwich weighing in at 1,342 pounds. Grand Saline outweighed Oklahoma City’s 900 pounds peanut butter and jelly sandwich in November 2010. Oklahoma City, OK had been the reigning champ since September 7, 2002.
- Astronaut Allen B. Sheppard brought a peanut with him to the moon.
- Tom Miller pushed a peanut to the top of Pike’s Peak (14,100 feet) using his nose in 4 days, 23 hours, 47 minutes and 3 seconds.
- Adrian Finch of Australia holds the Guinness World Record for peanut throwing, launching the lovable legume 111 feet and 10 inches in 1999 to claim the record.
- As early as 1500 B.C., the Incans of Peru used peanuts as sacrificial offerings and entombed them with their mummies to aid in the spirit life.
- Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth.