Paying for Mr. Peanut

Published 10:26 pm Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mr. Peanut: Ron Hatfield stands near the place at the entrance to Hall Place where he hopes to have a historical marker put marking the birthplace of Mr. Peanut.

More than two and a half years after a historical marker honoring Mr. Peanut was approved, it still has not been placed in the Hall Place neighborhood where the boy who created the famous advertising icon lived.

One resident of the neighborhood, however, is trying to raise the money for the marker himself.

“It’s time to get it done,” said Ron Hatfield, who was a member of the civic league that first pushed for the marker. “I just think it needs to be done.”

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Mr. Peanut was created when Amedeo Obici, founder of Planters Peanuts, held a contest to come up with a mascot for the company. A Hall Place boy, Antonio Gentile, crafted a drawing of a peanut with arms and legs and dubbed him “Mr. Peanut.” A professional artist later added the top hat, monocle and cane.

Obici went on to leave his mark on Suffolk in the form of a hospital and a foundation that helps ensure access to health care for all. Mr. Peanut, meanwhile, is widely regarded as one of the most successful advertising icons of all time.

“At some point in time, I’d like to see that done,” said Susan Blair, another member of the now-defunct civic league. “With Mr. Peanut being a world-renowned icon, to have some type of marker to show where he was born, I think that’s important. People can make more of a connection with it.”

The marker was approved in December 2008 by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Hall Place Civic League sponsored the application for the marker.

Hatfield had hoped the marker would be placed near the entrance to the neighborhood on Hall Avenue. His fundraising ideas include selling some old pictures of Hall Place that he has collected throughout the years.

“I think it would be one good thing to do for the neighborhood,” he said.

Blair said she thinks the marker is important to help people remember that Mr. Peanut “didn’t come out of some marketing agency.”

To contact Hatfield to help with the fundraising efforts, call him at 539-0954 or email him at