Mr. Peanut, Planters Icon, Dies In Tragic Accident

RIP, Mr. Peanut. It may come as news to some of you that this ancient advertising icon was, in fact, still alive up until just a few days ago. At the venerable age of 104, you'd have expected him to have retired long since — but, as it turns out, he simply couldn't afford to, since Planters only paid peanuts. This hard-working legume wasn't even permitted to pass away in his bed. Instead, he died with his spats on in an appalling accident that can now be viewed on YouTube. Thank Planters for this — they wasted no time ghoulishly releasing the accident footage as a commercial, since nothing makes you want to buy peanuts like watching an anthropomorphic one perish horribly.

A brief biography of Mr. Peanut

He was born a poor but humble goober on a peanut plantation – okay, a sketchpad – in Suffolk, Virginia, created by a 14-year-old boy whose drawing was the winner of the Planters mascot contest. Once Mr. Peanut ventured out into the world, he gained a veneer of sophistication, as many young nuts are wont to do. His polish, however — which took the form of a top hat, monocle, and the aforementioned spats — was acquired not at Harvard or Yale, but through the intervention of an advertising agency. As Parade revealed in its 100th birthday tribute to Mr. Peanut, the ad men also christened Peanut with a highfalutin moniker befitting his new status. His full name, though few ever knew it, was Bartholomew Richard Fitzgerald-Smythe. 

Throughout the 20th century, Mr. Peanut's star rose higher and higher. He was first pictured on a billboard in Times Square in 1937, and by the 1950s his commercials were airing on nationwide TV. In the early '60s, he was one of the top attractions at the New York World's Fair. Toward the end of the century, Mr. Peanut demonstrated that you really can teach an old nut new tricks: He made his first appearance in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in 1997 at the age of 81, and in 2010, after 94 years of silence, Mr. Peanut finally began speaking — although not, it may be noted, in his final appearance, where he died in heroic silence.

The tragic circumstances of Mr. Peanut's passing

Poor old Peanut. Instead of being allowed to hang out with his fellow elderly advertising peers like the Michelin Man (age 122), Betty Crocker (99), and the Jolly Green Giant (a mere seedling of 92, according to CNBC), he was instead forced to go out on a road trip accompanied by former Veep star Matt Walsh and action-hero-turned-guy-who's-hard-up-enough-to-appear-in-a-peanut-commercial Wesley Snipes. For some reason they were driving through the desert, but the combination of an unexpected armadillo and Walsh and Snipes' excruciating duet of "I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight" caused the NUTmobile to swerve off the road. The trio were left dangling from a branch that was evidently only able to support two hanging bodies, so Mr. Peanut bravely sacrificed himself to save his friends (or possibly to spare himself from ever having to hear them sing again).

Reaction to Mr. Peanut's untimely demise

When the news broke that Mr. Peanut was no more, his fellow brand spokespersons took to Twitter to express their sympathy. Oscar Mayer reminisced about the times Peanut "rode the hot dog highways with us in the NUTmobile," while Kraft Mac & Cheese tweeted that their "box was especially blue today" (via Business Insider). Mr. Clean called his fellow Mr. "always classy, always crunchy," and Snickers claimed that they, too "would sacrifice it all for the nut" (via Nerdist).

A certain segment of the Twitterati, however, was not nearly so gracious in regards to the deceased Peanut. One user posted a short video purporting to depict someone with nut allergies dancing in joy while another claimed that Mr. Peanut belonged in hell due to the fact that he'd "spent decades as the smiling face of a company that sold the boiled and roasted corpses of his people as a snack." Still another tweeted that he wished death upon the whole advertising mascot clan, claiming he "won't be happy til every corporation violently kills off its mascots." Who knows, he might even get that wish if Planters putting an end to Mr. Peanut ends up selling a ton of nuts.

Mr. Peanut: 1916-2020

While the end of the commercial makes it clear that Peanut is definitively dead, it's not the last appearance he'll make on behalf of Planters. The accident footage will air during the Super Bowl pregame show, and during the third quarter of the big game itself, Planters will spare 30 seconds to memorialize Mr. Peanut with a funeral/commercial.

If you're truly devastated by Peanut's passing, Today says you can follow "The Estate of Mr. Peanut" on social media for the chance to win Mr. Peanut commemorative packaging. And, in a slightly macabre touch considering the circumstances of his accident, there will be three NUTmobiles touring the country through Super Bowl Sunday distributing special Mr. Peanut pins to his mourners (no word as to whether these will contain a chip of his shell).