It’s not often we write about Mr. Peanut, the humble but nimble nut with a top hat, spats and white gloves (who we swear tap dances like Fred Astaire when no one’s looking) but when someone tears down his birthplace, darn it, we’re going to spill some black ink telling the tale. Yes, the 1906 Wilkes-Barre, Pa., building where two Italian immigrants, Amedeo Obici and Mario Peruzzi, started the Planters Nuts and Chocolate Co. was demolished Aug. 13 by a developer who wants to build (hold your breath now) a strip mall. You would think he would have the good sense to save the building, which had a vintage sign of Mr. Peanut painted on its side, the kind of billboard you could see from blocks away. Looking at a photo of the now-gone sign here, this particular advertisement looks to our trained eye to have been painted in the 1930s, based on the retro combination of colors and the font graphics.
Developer Marvin Slomowitz apparently thought turning the building into a museum was dumber than stupid. Wilkes-Barr city councilman Jim McCarthy tried to save the building. Here’s what he told Preservation Online:
“There’s a Crayola museum, a Barbie museum, a Zippo museum, and they attract people from California to Pennsylvania. There’s a pencil museum, for god’s sake. And yet, here in Wilkes-Barre,we say, ‘That Mr. Peanut, big deal. So what?’”
Since it’s a little late to save the structure, we just ask one question. Why couldn’t the developer construct his mall within the building? Do a little facadism, we say. And have a museum to Mr. Peanut squeezed somewhere into between the Subway, Foot Locker, and Barnes & Noble.