Around 1890 a St. Louis doctor invented and named peanut butter, which he touted as a health food. It wasn’t until the late 1920s that adults, and children, were asking for peanut butter sandwiches. These stuck to the roof of the mouth: it wasn’t until the 1940s that specially treated homogenized peanut butter was developed, keeping the oil from separating and the mixture creamy, so that people could eat peanut l)utter without joking about how it glued their mouths shut.


Peanut butter cookies first became a common term around 1940.


The word peanuts has meant something insignificant or of little value since the 1830s, which is when such expressions as “That’s not worth peanuts” and “He’ll work for peanuts” were first heard. Peanut gallery was in use in the l880s, as a synonym for nigger gallery (1840s) or nigger heaven (l870s), the upper balcony where blacks sat, as in segregated theaters.


Because peanut implied small size, it came to mean a small or insignificant person in 1919 and peanut gallery then gradually came to mean a section of seats reserved for children or an audience of children, which has been its only common meaning since the 1940s (especially since “the Peanut Gallery” became well known as the little grandstand where all the children sat on television’s Howdy Doody Show, first broadcast in 1943). Charles Schulz’s comic strip Peanuts first appeared in

1950, peopled only by small children and animals.


Popped corn was eaten at the first Thanksgiving in 1621, when Chief Massasoit’s brother, Quadequina, brought bushels of it to the feast, amazing the Pilgrims . It was called popped corn, parch corn, and rice corn (a common variety used for popping) until the 1820s. Then it finally became a common treat, was sold widely by street vendors, and the name popped corn was shortened to popcorn.


Molasses-coated popcorn balls didn’t become widely known until the I 870s. In 1896, Americans were calling an exceptionally fine thing or person a crackajack or crackerjack (crack had meant excellent, expert, since the 1830s and, since the 1850s ,jack had been a breezy form of address to a man whose name was unknown).


The same year crackerjack entered the language, the name Cracker Jack was given to the popcorn-peanuts-and-molasses confection made by the Chicago firm of F. W. Rueckheim and Brother, who had first sold it at Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition, but not by that name. Thus “Peanuts, popcorn, Cracker Jack!” has been a common cry of vendors at circuses, carnivals, fairs, and ball games since the early 1900s. Now, Crackerjack is a trademark of the Borden Co.

for its “candied popcorn and peanuts” mixture, and popcorn itself can be obtained from a popcorn machine, a term common by 1918, when the Butter-Kist popcorn machine ~~‘as a fixture in many retail stores and store lobbies.



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