No, you didn’t misread it. Mr. Peanut, the name of Planters’ longtime mascot, has been trending on social media this week after the peanut brand announced his death following a car accident alongside his celebrity friends, Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh.
What the character’s “death” will actually mean is yet to be seen — but it’s all part of the Super Bowl advertising blitz that invades American TV sets every year about this time.
In the case of Mr. Peanut, Planters has teased that his funeral will take place during the third quarter of Super Bowl LIV, the Feb. 2 showdown between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami.
It is with heavy hearts that we confirm that Mr. Peanut has died at 104. In the ultimate selfless act, he sacrificed himself to save his friends when they needed him most. Please pay your respects with #RIPeanut pic.twitter.com/VFnEFod4Zp
— The Estate of Mr. Peanut (@MrPeanut) January 22, 2020
Not only that, but Planters offered commemorative pins to people who encountered his peanut-shaped vehicle in the days ahead of the NFL championship. They asked them to share their memories of the mascot with the hashtag #RIPPeanut. And it worked.
Social media fans had fun, um, roasting the iconic character. For instance, another brand mascot, Mr. Clean, remembered him as, “Always classy, always crunchy, always cleaned up nicely.”
— Sap! (@robbymillsap) January 22, 2020
— legal minefield (@LegalMinefield) January 22, 2020
— Captain Tarbox of the High Sea (@JackTarbox) January 22, 2020
— Pistol Perc (@PercPistol) January 22, 2020
— Justin Vandenberg (@jvberg) January 22, 2020
— Palomino Johnson (@InsectChampion) January 22, 2020
In all seriousness, though, Mr. Peanut was a big deal. Planters began using him, as they said, way back in 1916. The look came about thanks to both Antonio Gentile, a “school boy who submitted his sketch to win the Planters contest for a brand icon” and a commercial artist, who added what became Mr. Peanut’s signature accessories: a monocle, a cane and a top hat, according to Planters. When the brand began advertising in 1918, Mr. Peanut was there.
By about 1938, Mr. Peanut had appeared on his first billboard in Times Square. He starred in his first TV commercial in the ‘50s. The character was welcomed into Madison Avenue’s Advertising Walk of Fame in 2004.
Mr. Peanut’s death is the latest in a long line of gimmicks that brands have used leading up to the Super Bowl. It ranks up there with IHOP changing its name to IHOb (for burgers).
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