I'm sure parents of a certain age could appreciate the time when all you needed to keep your kids out of your hair for a couple of hours was giving them a couple of bucks for "snacks" and a couple of wheels in the form of bicycles. My siblings and I happily took that deal whenever it was offered, making sure that we ended up sometime along the way at a nearby laundromat. After all, biking what seemed like hundreds of miles required sustenance, and the gobs of candy bars, chewing gums and kiddie ice pops available there provided a plethora of pleasing choices to go-getters like us.
Well, I've long passed that stage of my life, and those type of candy treats are much more of a rare indulgence now. However, there is a place that has become my adult-aged laundromat now,and it took a move farther away from my workplace to get me to go.
The Peanut Shoppe is reaching its 80th year of operation this year, all within reaches of downtown Columbus. Opening up where Pizza Rustica roughly lies now at the corner of High and Broad in 1936, the store was one of hundreds of Planters Peanuts company-owned stores set up across the country. Due to a series of corporate buyouts starting in the 1960s, the stores slowly faded from existence, with only a few survivors scattered around the country remaining (other than Columbus, Ohio-based stores in Akron and Springfield also continue to operate.)
Columbus' Peanut Shoppe is currently owned by Mike & Pat Stone, who bought the store from the original group of investors who saved the shop from closing in 1996. In an effort to boost foot traffic to the store, the Stones moved the shop from their location near the Gay Street district (its home since 1978) down in late 2014 to the South High Street corridor, which has seen a large boost in residential development during the past several years.
Of course, the freshly roasted nut products, prepared same as they ever were with peanut oil, are the main attraction at the Peanut Shoppe. The basic nuts are always an option, but enhancements with various sweet and spicy coatings are also available. For me, I just drop by when the whim strikes me and grab a half-pound or so of whatever strikes my fancy (outside of the roasted nuts, my favorite treat has been their Boston Baked Beans) Other retro-style non-nut candy treats like candy corn, jelly beans and orange slices are available for the picking. Like any store worth their, ahem, salt, the Peanut Shoppe puts a couple of their items as the special of the day, making it even that much easier to dabble in their offerings over several visits.
No matter what you get at The Peanut Shoppe, don't forget to include a dollop of nostalgia now and again in relation to Mr. Peanut. This longtime mascot and logo of Planters Peanuts is reaching a momentous anniversary by turning 100 years old this year. Mr. Peanut's origins can be traced back to a young teenager named Antonio Gentile, who responded to a trademark contest held by the then Planters Nut & Chocolate Company. Gentile's sketches of what would eventually become Mr. Peanut were good enough to earn himself $5 and, after a bit of refinement (the logo made its debut in the Saturday Evening Post two years later) gave the company one of the more recognizable mascots in the advertising world.
The Peanut Shoppe has a nice collection of memorabilia centering around Mr. Peanut, starting with the outdoor neon sign (the only one reportedly still actively in use) and then assorted tchotchkes and other collectibles scattered throughout the interior. If you're lucky, you may get a special treat and catch their vintage 1920's-era Mr. Peanut peanut roaster in operation. If watching this machine can't convince you to buy a bag of freshly roasted peanuts afterward, probably nothing will.
The Peanut Shoppe
21 E State St (Downtown - Google Maps)
Columbus, OH 43215