The Mr. Peanut Fan Club You Never Knew About

Every great leader has a following behind them. These leaders can range from kings and presidents, to even fast-food chains and celebrities. So it may not be that big of a surprise — or perhaps it may, depending on where you stand — that one of America's most well-known symbols has a small but dedicated following, and he isn't even a real person.

The character in question is Mr. Peanut, the mascot of the Planters Peanuts company. The Peanut Pals club, founded in 1978 by Judith Walthall (via PeanutPals' own website), acts less like a secret brotherhood and more like a humble group of collectors gathering up Mr. Peanut memorabilia throughout the years. (Check out their Facebook page.)

But how exactly does the Peanut Pals work? What goes on during their meetings? Who are some of the "pals" who form this nutty (you should pardon the expression) fan club? What's the attraction? (Be honest: Is it the spats?)

A nutty bunch

In a 2018 Huffington Post interview, Peanut Pals President Scott Schmitz explained why the Peanut Pals love Mr. Peanut so much in the first place: "He is athletic, dapper, knowledgeable, hip, and chic with the times," said Schmitz — and he's not wrong. For over 100 years, Mr. Peanut has been the face of Planter's, from his creation in 1916 in a contest to a brief period when he "passed" in 2020 (via Contingent Magazine). Schmitz  goes into detail about the club's purpose: to collect and document the hundreds of Mr. Peanut items released over the years. The rarest merchandise comes from when Planter's was bought by Standard Brand in 1961 (via the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History), and most of the "realistic-looking" Mr. Peanut mascots were replaced by the more modern cartoonish Mr. Peanut. "Only a handful of these items survived," Schmitz explains, with everything from old paper ads to display boxes collected to keep the memory of the original Mr. Peanut alive.

They aren't without their fair share of surprises. Schmitz says that the real Mr. Peanut shows up with the "NUTmobile" to Peanut Pals events, like conventions. At one point, Planters drove 10 members of the group (dressed in parade wear) in the Nutmobile to the Philadelphia Art Museum, where the group walked up the famous Rocky steps in style.

If you want to join Peanut Pals, simply sign up on their website. Membership is $25 a year, with discounts for family associate members age 16 and older, and those under age 16. Maybe crack open a peanut, too.