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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Goober Pea Meets the Vendor

A South American native, the peanut arrived in North America via slave ships and in African-inspired cooking on plantations. Slaves sometimes made a little cash growing and selling the famous 'goober pea,' and after the Civil War, when Union soldiers acquired a taste for them, peanuts traveled north.


Goober Peas: America's Favorite Snack Food

There's the vendor...can you smell it? A little bit closer now...can you taste it? Even before that first morsel hits your palate, can you feel the sensations? Oh, yeah! Nothing like the nutty aroma of fresh roasted peanuts. They have been around for a long, long time, first enjoyed by children. One day those children grew up but I dare say probably not a one ever outgrew the love of peanuts.
Street Vendor on the streets of New York City 1900
New York City hummed at the turn of the 19th century. It was not unusual to find vendors on the streets, especially selling peanuts and by the 1940s, they were customary on the grounds of circuses and fairs. This brings back recollections of being a child again. The fun times, times with family, simply good times of childhood. It was not long afterward that the peanut vendors infiltrated train stations where travelers welcomed the fresh aroma and availability of a quick snack.

Peanut vendor near the junction of Washington
and Flatbush Avenues, Brooklyn, circa 1905
Italian vendors were the first immigrants to sell peanuts on the streets of New York City. In fact, after the Civil War, the Italians dominated the retail peanut business. Many stuck with the trade for decades making a very substantial living for themselves and their families thereby leaving quite a legacy.
1910 Peanut Vendor
In the early part of the century, it was not unusual to find young children pushing the vending carts around the city. They worked an average of 6 hours a day often working until after midnight. Wages were not earned for personal use but turned over to 'father'.


Beginning in 1948, the vendors 'push' became more than just peanuts while the wheels were no longer dependent upon human hands to move them along. The evolution of the old-fashioned wooden carts to the stainless steel pushcarts allowed the once only peanut vendor to branch out and sling out an enormous array of different foods. For many on the streets of large cities, this is still their livelihood.
 
So many choices...where are the peanuts? Sprinkled on the 'dogs',
baked in the bread, nutty pretzels perhaps?
Image Credit: Andrew Savulich/New York Daily News
From cultivation to the vendor to gourmet dishes prepared in the finest restaurant, the "goober pea" has collected quite an historical account along its journey of evolution. Paired harmoniously with chocolate makes it a versatile and beloved icon among the American Classics of baseball, hot dogs and apple pie! Yum! And, of course, don't forget the Chevrolet!


Image Source: www.flickr.com
Let's not leave without mentioning the most iconic peanut, the master himself...Mr. Peanut. Little did he know in the beginning that he would grow into the world's grandest nut company. That is a story unto itself and must wait for its own day! For now, he bids you adieu with only one remaining thought...

Eat more peanuts!