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THE STORY
OF
MR. PEANUT

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Mr. Peanut has probably done more to popularize the peanut than almost anyone else... Only P. T. Barnum and Amedero Obici did more. We all know P. T. Barnum, the circus owner. But did you know that he also was largely responsible for the popularity of peanuts. Peanuts were always popular in the peanut growing states, but it was not until the Civil War when soldiers from the North and the South converged in Virginia that many people started to acquire a taste for peanuts. P. T. Barnum recognized this trend, sold bags of peanuts at each performance of his circus and as the popularity of the circus grew in the late 1800's so did the popularity of the peanut. (And I thought they sold peanuts just so you could feed the animals.)

While we all know P. T. Barnum, who was Amedero Obici? Well! He is responsible for, so to say, inventing the fresh roasted salted peanut.

As a teenager Amedero Obici perfected the automatic roasting process. Prior to that time the nuts were roasted and turned by hand which resulted in many scorched peanuts. He also introduced the idea of salting peanuts to enhance their flavor.

Mr. Obici, with a partner, formed the Planters Nut and Chocolate Co. in 1906. Finally, it was Mr. Obici who wanted a trademark for his company and gave birth to Mr. Peanut.

BIRTH OF THE MILLS NOVELTY COMPANY

We all know of the Mills Novelty Company as the "giant" of the coin machine business. But, the story of Mills is truly an American Success story of a small entrepreneur who made it against all the odds. Here is an excerpt from the "Story of Mills" published by the company in 1949.

"In 1889, the late Herbert Stephen Mills founded the great coin machine company whose name 'Mills' is famous the world over for its Bell and amusement type coin machines.

In a small work shop, 20 x 60 feet, at Jefferson and Lake Streets, Chicago, with only two employees, Mr. Mills started the manufacture of the first counter machine called the 'Klondike' and later that same year he conceived the idea and started the manufacture of the famous 'Owl Lifter', which was the forerunner of all the arcade type machines which Mr. Mills was to make in the following years for operators of that era.

Two years later Mr. Mills and his growing staff, five employees in all, moved to larger quarters, 75 x 125 feet, at Clinton and Quincy Streets. Three years later a business setback caused them to return to the Jefferson and Lake Streets factory. There, disaster struck again. A night fire destroyed the entire factory, including blueprints and engineering plans of many future machines, plus a great deal of prefabricated work on Klondikes and Owls.

Not to be daunted, Mr. Mills then moved to a small plant at Randolph and Desplaines Streets, the scene of the famous Haymarket Riot. Here many successful arcade machines were manufactured and sold. The growing organization known as Mills Novelty Company then moved to a considerably larger plant at Green Street and Jackson Boulevard. It was a four story building, and it was in this building that the Mills organization made rapid strides toward world wide notice."

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Copyright: 2009 Ken Durham, GameRoomAntiques


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Ken Durham
GameRoomAntiques
3000 Galloway Ridge, C-306
Pittsboro NC 27312
For Orders Only: 202-213-1585 (10am - 9pm East Coast Time)
All others, please email: durham@GameRoomAntiques.com

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