Record Group 88 Collection Spotlight: It’s Throwback Thursday with Mr. Peanut!
Today’s post was written by Stephen Charla, Archivist at the National Archives at Philadelphia.
If you look in Box 112 of the Correspondence and Reports of the Food and Drug Administration’s Philadelphia station, you might spot a familiar face. In June 1921, FDA inspector Sidney Brown paid a visit to the Planters Nut & Chocolate Company factory in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. As part of that inspection, he collected advertising material and quite a few product packages, most of which depict the company’s famous mascot, Mr. Peanut!
Mr. Peanut was created in 1916, so he was only five years old in 1921. He looked a bit different from his modern appearance in those early days, but not much. He was already sporting the trademark top hat, monocle, and spats that he still wears today, but he seems to have traded his cuffs for gloves since then.
In his report, Brown describes the Wilkes-Barre factory as a “three story and basement brick building near the business section of the city.” The factory had about 50 employees, “about 25 males and as many females.” The men were responsible for “roasting, heavy hauling, crating, packing, and manuel (sic) labor around the plant.” The women were “engaged mainly in sorting, cleaning and sifting of peanuts, and in filling, labeling, packing etc of the finished product.”
The ads and packages in the file give an idea of the kinds of products Planters was selling in the early 1920s. In addition to salted peanuts, they were producing various chocolate and nut confections, such as the Pnut Candy Bar, the Peanut Jumbo Block, the Ko-Ko Kream Bar, Chocolate Twins, and the Vineyard Maid Milk Chocolate Fruit Nut Bar.
Curious to see what other familiar (or unfamiliar) advertising icons might be hiding in the records of the FDA? You can make an appointment to view them in our research room by calling us at 215-305-2044 or e-mailing us at email@example.com.
Planter[s] Nuts & Choc. Co.; Correspondence and Reports of the Food and Drug Administration, Box 112; Product Inspection Files 1906-1946; Philadelphia Station; Records of the Food and Drug Administration, Record Group 88; National Archives at Philadelphia; (Record Entry ID: PH-3623) (NAID: 631047)