Commentary – Remembering Mr. Peanut

Chris Clegg

Another iconic mascot has bit the dust!

Mr. Peanut met his fate in a blaze of glory, saving two other people Jan. 22. Why they are Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh is anyone’s guess. Perhaps it’s to make the situation nuttier! Groan!

If you didn’t know, Mr. Peanut is the mascot that represented and graced the packages of Planters peanuts for 104 years. The cute-looking glasses wearing peanut was a fixture for the company for over 10 decades.

In the world of marketing, companies frequently use mascots to help sell the product. They are highly effective. When companies make decisions to ditch mascots like Mr. Peanut it is not done without a lot of careful study.

We do not know the reason for Planters’ decision but we do know that Mr. Peanut’s funeral will be held during a third quarter commercial in the Super Bowl. Hence the alarms should go off that some marketing scheme is in the works. Can’t wait to see the outcome!

Could it be that since Mr. Peanut burned in the wreckage of a vehicle that Planters is introducing a new line of roasted peanuts? Ouch! I digress.

When I heard the news of Mr. Peanut’s demise, I thought about two mascots immediately. They were the A&W Root Bear and Ronald McDonald. By the way, while the Root Bear still dances his way into the hearts of consumers, what happened to McDonald’s clown?

I also fondly remember Peter Puck. Not the greedy owner of the Edmonton Oilers, but the smiling little hockey puck who gave tips to children on the game of hockey. I remember him being highly entertaining.

I always thought Peter Puck was the brainchild of the NHL or CBC, but that is not the case. Wikipedia says Peter Puck was created by NBC [yes, an American TV network!] executive and New York Rangers season ticket holder Donald Carswell. He conceived the idea and scripted first drafts of the initial episodes. Peter Puck was developed for the TV network in partnership with Hanna-Barbera, known for The Jetson, The Flintstones and Magilla Gorilla. Oh, the memories of those three cartoons!

Peter Puck became an instant and enduring hit with existing hockey fans. When NBC stopped carrying NHL games in 1975, NBC sold Peter Puck’s rights back to Hanna-Barbera, which later sold them to Brian McFarlane, a member of the network’s NHL broadcast team. You may remember him on Toronto Maple Leafs CBC broadcasts. He later wrote three books using the character.

So much for the boring history lesson! It seemed Peter Puck quickly disappeared from the airwaves. I have often wondered why the networks don’t bring him back. I guess in today’s world that screams for controversy and analysis, Peter Puck’s time has long since passed. Hey, even Don Cherry was put out to pasture but we still have Brian Burke!

Meanwhile the fun-loving mascots appear to be disappearing from the airwaves. The impact of seeing the Root Bear on TV is not nearly as much as seeing him at the local parade, where children run to give him a hug.

Long live the mascots! They are adorable, children love them and they are still an effective marketing tool.

As for Mr. Peanut, what will Planters come up with? Trust me, there is a plan. I can hardly wait!

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