Just about everyone who has been born and raised in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania knows who Mr. Peanut is. That's because Planters Nuts and Chocolate Company was founded in Wilkes Barre in 1906. For many years, Mr. Peanut was a fixture on Public Square in downtown Wilkes Barre where he would walk around promoting Planters Peanuts. In fact, since Mr. Peanut was such an iconic figure of Wilkes Barre, King’s College recently added him to the Glockenspiel Clock on their new building located on the north-west corner of Public Square.
For you to truly understand Mr. Peanut's relationship to the barber shop, we have to go back to my youth and The Flood of 1972. When I was was a kid, I liked to buy little bags of Planters nuts to collect the proof of purchase on the package. If enough packages were saved up, you could send them in to receive a plastic Mr. Peanut bank. What a tremendous prize!
After the 1972 flood, when everyone was cleaning mud and spoiled or ruined items out of their homes and businesses, I had a missed opportunity to get any number of plastic Mr. Peanut banks. My family and I were temporarily living in a home off Blackman Street while my house was being cleaned up. Since automobile traffic was not allowed due to the mess, my brother and I went on a walk with our dad so he could pick up his paycheck at the Wilkes Barre Publishing Company. We had to walk all the way up Main Street to the Times Leader building just north of Public Square. While we were passing the Planters Peanuts office on South Main Street, I saw a huge pile of plastic Mr. Peanut banks and cups being loaded into a garbage truck. Sadly, as my dad knew what I was going to ask said, “Don’t even think about it.” I was not permitted to take even one.
It was at that moment that I thought it would be a great company to work for some day, and 13 years later, I got my wish. I started working at Nabisco, owner of Planters Peanuts, in 1985. Then I was able to buy as many plastic Mr. Peanut banks as I wanted, along with other Mr. Peanut related items.
Much like Disney World with their hidden Mickeys, you will find a number of hidden Mr. Peanuts in my shop. Of note, a plastic Mr. Peanut bank, a Mr. Peanut lead pencil - given to me by my brother Jason, and a cast iron Mr. Peanut bank - given to me by my friend Tim Nultan. So when you stop in, come look for the hidden the Mr. Peanut.