Nutty reveal on Super Bowl Sunday
By Alex Perry
After a week and a half of mourning, the nation got a reprieve on Sunday evening when they learned that Mr. Peanut is not truly dead after all.
The Planters Peanut commercial for Super Bowl LIV on Sunday showed mourners gathered for the funeral of company’s beloved Mr. Peanut. The iconic mascot — a Suffolk native — perished at the age of 104. The tragedy was confirmed Jan. 22 on the official social media pages of Mr. Peanut, referring to a commercial in which Mr. Peanut sacrificed himself to save actors Matt Walsh and Wesley Snipes.
They were inside the Planters Nutmobile when it plunged off the side of a cliff, and the trio were left holding on to a branch that could not hold their combined weight. Mr. Peanut let go to save his friends’ lives and landed on the Nutmobile wreckage below them, which then exploded.
“He spent his life bringing people together,” Snipes said about Mr. Peanut to mourners at the funeral scene. “I know he’d be happy that we’re all together now.”
Walsh nodded in agreement among the other mourners at the scene, which included Mr. Clean and the Kool-Aid Man. Mr. Clean consoled the Kool-Aid Man as the big red pitcher cried deeply, and one of his tears landed on Mr. Peanut’s grave.
But then the clouds above all of them parted. The sun shined where the tear drop fell, and a plant began to sprout. The mourners watched in awe as a baby Mr. Peanut appeared from the plant.
The commercial ended with Walsh holding up the adorable Baby Nut, which made baby noises at first, and then started making … dolphin noises?
“Just kidding. I’m back,” the Baby Nut said, before he asked for his monocle.
The marketing campaign that started with Mr. Peanut’s death ended with Baby Nut, the new, infantilized take on the international icon.
It was a welcome sight for Scott Schmitz, president of the Peanut Pals, a group of collectors dedicated to the beloved spokesnut.
“I am extremely happy to see that Mr. Peanut, after 104 years representing the Planters brand, has not truly been obliviated,” Schmitz wrote in an email on Monday.
He wrote that this new Baby Nut version of the character is interesting — although he was hoping to one day see the original Mr. Peanut alive and enjoying his retirement “on some exotic island.”
“From my understanding, Planters was going to celebrate the life of Mr. Peanut over this next year. Hopefully they will continue that trend … and also develop Baby Nut as a new character,” he wrote.
Schmitz was also surprised that the new Baby Nut can talk, considering that Mr. Peanut was a silent character for the majority of his years. Actor Robert Downey Jr. became Mr. Peanut’s first voice actor in 2010.
“I was rather disappointed that Mr. Peanut began to talk at that point. For his first 95 years of life … he was very relatable with just a cane and his expressions and movements…a true mime before the great Marcel Marceau,” he wrote.
Schmitz wrote that he is not aware of the direction that Planters will take this advertising campaign going forward — only that he will be “extremely happy” as long as Mr. Peanut is involved.
“After reading numerous articles concerning the death of Mr. Peanut,” he wrote, “the majority believed that the marketing decision by Planters was true genius. They brought Mr. Peanut to the forefront of advertising once again.”
Mr. Peanut became the spokesnut for Planters Peanuts right here in Suffolk, 104 years ago.
Planters founder Amedeo Obici needed something to help sell his peanuts, and Antonio Gentile, a young teen in Suffolk’s Hall Place neighborhood, produced 11 drawings of a peanut with a face, legs and arms. Obici paid the young Antonio $5 for the drawings and had them enhanced by an artist.
Robert Slade, Gentile’s nephew, first learned the news about Mr. Peanut’s demise like everyone else did. In an interview on Monday, Slade said he was impressed by the marketing campaign and happy that Mr. Peanut will be sticking around — “albeit a much younger one.”
“More than anything else, I thought it was something that Mr. Obici would have appreciated to no end,” Slade said. “I’m sure he would have been a proud grand-peanut. He was a marketing whiz, and I think he would have been impressed by how the marketing campaign went, and with this evolution of Mr. Peanut.”
The Suffolk News-Herald Facebook page asked for users’ thoughts regarding the Mr. Peanut funeral commercial, and the responses in the comments were mixed.
Some were underwhelmed, with Facebook user Karen Waddell calling it a “horrible attempt” to capitalize on the Baby Yoda fandom from “The Mandalorian.” Others were confused by the dolphin noises that the baby spokesnut made in the commercial.
However, there were other Facebook comments that praised Baby Peanut.
“I loved it,” Facebook user Jayne Hinchey wrote. “Didn’t expect that at all but Baby Peanut is so cute. Now we get to see him grow up!”
Fans can follow the new Planters spokesnut on social media with “#BabyNut” and “see him grow into a peanut of the people that brings every kind of nut together,” according to an email from Taylor Higgins of the global marketing agency ICF Next.
“We promise his journey will be full of surprises,” Higgins wrote.
ALEX PERRY is a staff writer at The Suffolk News-Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.