The events of the past month have been monumental and will mark a turning point in the history of the free world; we have crossed the rubicon toward a new society rife with distrust and propaganda. I am referring not to the exit of United Kingdom from the European Union nor to the inevitable acquittal of President Donald Trump by the United States Senate, but, of course, to the death and supposed reincarnation of the Planters mascot Bartholomew Richard Fitzgerald-Smythe, more commonly known as Mr. Peanut.
January 22nd, 2020 will be a day forever etched in my memory. I can remember the moment I first encountered #RIPeanut vividly. Grief, anger, and denial were not the emotions I felt. Instead I, a calm and rational adult, was confused as to how a fictional mascot of a nut company could have died, but that question was quickly answered: Mr. Peanut had sacrificed himself to save the lives of Wesley Snipes, Matt Walsh, and an unnamed armadillo following a Nutmobile accident.
Of course, I felt sadness over the death of such a fixture of American culture and my life specifically; my dad ate peanuts sometimes. These feelings eventually turned into acceptance. Mr. Peanut led a full life for over a century and died saving his friends. We all die.
Super Bowl LIV featured stories of defeat, hope, and triumph in the face of adversity. We held our breaths as the Chiefs came back from a 10 point deficit, we cheered when Charlie Day learned about Tide, and we cried as Mr. Peanut was laid to rest. The events that transpired that Sunday have now become common knowledge: the Kool-Aid Man and his tears, filled with 38 grams of sugar per serving, selfishly pulled Mr. Peanut from whatever afterlife there is and forced him into the body of Baby Nut. This cannot be.
The Kool-Aid Man’s tears, which germinated the plant that Baby Nut came from, were presumably made of Kool-Aid. In my senior year of high school, Ms. Spilsbury approved my AP Biology project of watering plants with different kinds of soda; all of the plants died.
Not only was this reincarnation biologically impossible as my 17-year-old self so rigorously proved, it also robbed Mr. Peanut’s death of all emotional impact. The death of Mr. Peanut had given an opportunity for many of us, myself included, to reflect on what he meant in our lives.
In the hours of commercials and other Mr. Peanut media that I’ve consumed since his untimely death, I’ve come to realize that Mr. Peanut was not only a heartless industrialist but also a bit of a misogynist and an advocator of pseudoscience. Mr. Peanut was generally not a great dude and that’s something we’ll have to deal with; people aren’t perfect and neither are peanuts.
As flawed of a man as Mr. Peanut was, he was iconic and represented his brand for over a hundred years with grace and dignity. We have come to associate that top hat-wearing monocled peanut with the Planters brand.
Baby Nut represents the opposite of what Mr. Peanut stood for. Exactly three years before his reincarnation, on February 2nd, 2017, the Virginia General Assembly with HJ796 commended Mr. Peanut for “contributing to the economic vitality … and status in the peanut industry” of the city of Suffolk. Mr. Peanut, as the people of Virginia recognized, was a dignified man, whereas Baby Nut’s first actions are to prank his grieving funeral-goers, mimicking dolphin sounds. Mr. Peanut would never engage in such lowbrow humor.
Planters killed Mr. Peanut once with a Nutmobile explosion but then did it again by tarnishing his name and associating him with this imposter. If anything, the birth of Baby Nut was what truly killed Mr. Peanut.