Continuing with the celebration of Nat’l Peanut Month, I thought I’d offer up some interesting peanut info. If any of this helps settle a bar bet, well, ya owe me a brew…
The peanut is a South American legume with an ancient history. Peanut shells have been found in archaeological digs that date back to 2500 BC but it’s likely that they were being consumed even before then. Interestingly, none of the 4 main varieties of peanut (Peruvian, Spanish, Valencia, & Virginia) prevalent in the U.S. came here directly. Instead, the peanut took the slow boat, migrating either through Africa or the Orient to North America as a result of Spanish and/or Portuguese traders.
Historically, the largest grower of peanuts in the world had been India, but China began dominating production in the 1990s. By 2000, China was yielding almost 40% of the world crop, and India almost 25%, with the U.S. in 3rd place with only 6% of worldwide peanut production.
- About 2/3rds of the worldwide peanut crop is processed for oil and peanut oil accounts for 8% of the worlds edible oil production.
- There are about 1,218 peanuts in a 28-ounce jar of peanut butter.
- An average of 2,860 pounds of peanuts are harvested from each acre of peanut plants and an acre of peanuts will make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches.
- Roasted peanuts were first sold at a P.T. Barnum circus in the late-1800s.
- The term "peanut gallery" was popularized in the late 19th century because those in the cheapest, uppermost seats in a theater could throw peanuts at people in the more expensive seats below.
- Alabama, Florida, New Mexico, & South Carolina all contribute, but the predominant peanut-growers in the U.S. are Georgia & Texas.
- The official state crop of Georgia is the peanut and that state produces almost ½ of the total U.S. peanut crop.
- About ½ of all of the peanuts grown in the U.S. for food use ends up in a jar of peanut butter.
- On average, Americans each eat 3 lbs of peanut butter per year. That’s about 700 million pounds, or enough to coat the floor of the Grand Canyon!
- Peanut butter’s high protein content draws moisture from your mouth. That’s why it sticks to the roof of your mouth.
- On May 15, 1963, U.S. astronaut Gordon "Gordo" Cooper ate bite-sized peanut butter sandwiches during the last Mercury space flight mission.