As a sign of snack food solidarity, crews inside both the Planters Peanuts Nutmobile and the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile planned to set aside their culinary rivalry Thursday evening to enjoy a movie together.
The idea is not as nutty as it seems: Kraft Heinz Co. owns both Planters Peanuts and Oscar Mayer.
On Thursday, three "Peanutters" — Zach Esparza of Bakersfield, Calif., Jaclyn Nagel of Detroit and Dakota Connell-Ledwon of Miami — were parked outside Albertsons at 3137 Grand Ave., dispensing salted peanuts and un-salty tales of their 11 months on the road meeting legume lovers in more than 30 states.
The three nut jobs — they prefer “The Three Nutkateers” while their employer labels them “brand ambassadors” — have heard most of the goober puns that one can shell out. Among their favorites: “Cashew later” and “Having a shell of a time.” The 26-foot-long Nutmobile “drives as smooth as peanut butter,” they claim, and is “everything it’s cracked up to be.”
“Our job,” Esparza said, “is to make people’s day a little nuttier, and make them smile.”
The Nutmobile, one of three such iconic vehicles that criss-cross the nation nearly year-round, is a converted 2014 Isuzu. It’s 415 peanuts long by 180 peanuts high, and has a removable sunroof to show off Mr. Peanut during parades and festivals. It features a fiberglass shell that’s partially made from recycled pool noodles, and is guided by a GPS navigation system.
The Peanut Mobile, as it was known back in the day, debuted in 1937. The interior of the current Nutmobile features a panel of Mr. Peanut’s historical iterations over his monacled, top-hatted 102-year history and plush seats for the Peanutters, who rotate driving, navigation and back-seat duties and sleep in hotel beds at night.
Mr. Peanut is, as might be expected of a senior mascot, a multiple award-winner. Last year the lanky legume garnered a Shorty Award, given to the best work in social media, for a brief clip of him dabbing during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
When it gets dirty — a fairly frequent occurrence considering the number of miles the Peanutters must travel — the Nutmobile is generally taken to the local fire department or truck car wash to make it shine.
Following their college graduation, the nation’s nine Peanutters were selected from among 1,500 applicants. The nine are fulfilling a year-long commitment and were selected, if a brief interview with a reporter is any indication, for their outgoing personalities. Connell-Ledwon is a University of Notre Dame alumna, while Nagel earned her degree from the University of Michigan. Esparza’s alma mater is Arizona State University.
Peanutters said highlights of their long tour include addressing Advertising Week during a panel session held in New York (Connell-Ledwon) and meeting America’s most famous peanut farmer, former president Jimmy Carter (Nagel).
On June 3, all nine Peanutters will meet in Madison, Wisconsin, for the inevitable passing of the baton. Their year of service complete, they’ll turn their Nutmobile keys over to nine new Nutters, all recent college graduates willing and eager to spend a year in close quarters with their new best friends.
“We’ll all have lunch together,” Nagel said, “and tell them everything we wished we would have known.”