National Peanut Day
National Peanut Day is a holiday that occurs annually on September 13th and is designed to pay tribute to one of the tastiest legumes ever grown. Peanuts are a food item that can be found everywhere from baseball games to the circus and is the perfect snack to munch on while watching a movie. And to top it all off, peanuts are a food that’s full of nutrients such as B6 and E. All good reasons for this humble legume to have its very own day.
The History Of The Peanut
Although we’re not entirely sure who first started celebrating National Peanut Day, we do know quite a lot about the legume that inspired it. Many scientists now believe that the peanut originated somewhere in South America—probably in Peru or maybe Brazil. As far back as 3,500 years ago, people were making peanut-shaped pottery and pottery adorned with decorative peanut elements. And as far back as 1,500 BC., the Incans entombed them with their mummies to sustain the dead on their voyage to the afterlife. So needless to say, peanuts have been used and enjoyed for quite some time.
When the Spanish began their exploration of the New World, they took peanuts back to Europe with them. From Spain, traders carried peanuts not only all over Europe but also Asia and Africa as well. Africans would then introduce peanuts to North America during the 18th century, but it wouldn’t be grown commercially in the U.S until the 19th century.
The first half of the 19th century saw peanut production in the United States grow dramatically, and by the time of the Civil War, it was in full production. Both Union and Confederate soldiers relied on peanuts as a quick and easy to carry source of protein. After the war, peanuts’ popularity continued to grow and was accelerated by PT Barnum’s wagon circus.
PT Barnum’s circus traveled all over the United States during the 19th century, and at each stop, crowds were sold treats of hot roasted peanuts. Street vendors saw the popularity of peanuts at the circus and they too decided they would sell them from their carts. As baseball started becoming a national pastime, peanuts were sold at those venues as well.
What prevented peanuts from becoming an overwhelming success during the end of the 19th century, however, was that their quality was lower than one would expect. This is because they were picked by hand, so the peanuts sold usually had the stems and byproducts of the fields. Fortunately, that would change just a few years later when automation would make for better-looking peanuts.
During the early 20th century, equipment was invented that made peanut production a lot easier. Machines could help plant and harvest the peanuts in the field, and once picked, the peanuts could be processed, roasted, and salted. This paved the way for not only high-quality salted nuts but also peanut butter and candy as well.
No talk of peanut or peanut butter would be complete without mentioning Dr. George Washington Carver. He was a noted scientist that is directly responsible for the popularity and the quality of peanut products today.
Celebrating National Peanut Day
The best way to enjoy National Peanut Day is to incorporate peanuts into your diet. Enjoy roasted peanuts, peanut butter, or even peanut-flavored confections.