Tucked away in a corner shop, just across the street from the Ohio Statehouse, is a small business that harkens to another time.
It’s called The Peanut Shoppe and the business is in its 86th year. It actually was opened by Planters Peanuts in 1936, one of about 300 such Planters retail locations across the country. All of those locations fell into the hands of private owners in the sixties and this one in Columbus is one of just a few still in business across the nation.
Today, it’s owned by Mike and Pat who said she’s worked there since 1972. “I’ve been doing this so long I don’t know what I would do if I weren’t coming in here,” she told me.
While they are know for roasted peanuts, fresh ground peanut butter and nut candies, they have a great selection of all kinds of fun candies.
I came home with a couple of kinds of peanut clusters, cinnamon gummy bears and the most delicious honey roasted nuts I’ve ever tasted.
Pat and Mike are super friendly and happy to share about the business. Turns out that when Planters sold out, they went around the country destroying the Planters signs and marketing materials at all the retail stores.
They left a trail of destruction in their wake until they arrived at a store in Michigan where workers encountered a young boy who begged them not to kill Mr Peanut. Mike said there was enough negative press to convince the company to completely suspend the killing of Mr Peanut.
They never made it to Columbus which is how Pat and Mike are in possession of the last of these signs in the world. It still works!
I have a confession to make. I looked up the store just to see the sign.
Yes, yes, I know that anyone who visits here regularly is not at all surprised by this revelation.
They have more Mr Peanut pieces including a great one that sits on a roaster and a costume similar to one Mike wore during his college days. Turns out, he earned much needed book money when he took a job wearing a Mr Peanut costume similar to this one pictured below.
They specialize in fresh roasted peanuts, freshly cooked party mixes, a large assortment of raw nuts and a colorful assortment of candies. They even sell some nice tins that they can fill to order if you’re in need of a gift.
Friends, I loved it there. The natural light, the glass front displays of goodies and friendly people happy to scoop up whatever treat your heart desires made my day. The place is both timeless and like a time machine back to your childhood.
Pat said to me “We serve up smiles here.”
Yes they do. I certainly was smiling when I left with my paper bag full of treats. Look them up the next time you head to a show at one of the downtown theaters or when you tour the Ohio Statehouse. You won’t be able to resist the goodies!
Find The Peanut Shoppe at 21 East State Street, just across from the Ohio Statehouse. You can also follow them on Facebook!
If you ever travel State Route 93 between Oak Hill and Ironton, Ohio, you’ll pass by this old gem. After all these years, I finally pulled over to snap a photo one day last fall. It isn’t fancy but it looks like a classic rural carry out and a slice of Americana. The Coke and Pepsi advertising pieces are eye catching and in great shape.
My job took me to the old Logan Theater in downtown Logan, Ohio a couple of years ago. All three floors are being revitalized to serve local teenagers after school, to provide theater space and to provide a general purpose community space. It was pretty exciting to see their plans and progress.
When I was there, the space for the after school crowd was nearing completion and they were readying to move on to another area. They are working hard to create a useful modern space while being true to the integrity of this historic structure and I am pleased to see them do it.
I captured this bit of peeling paint and vintage advertising on that tour. Trust me to find the dark corner with the old sign!
I learned something interesting this week. Well, it’s interesting to me.
One of the individuals responsible for painting all those Mail Pouch advertisements on barns across the Midwest and Appalachia was a fellow named Harley Warrick.
His name is well known among barn enthusiasts and for good reason.
During a career that spanned about 55 years, Mr. Warrick painted or retouched over 20,000 barns in thirteen states. He was actually the last of the Mail Pouch painters when he retired.
What I didn’t know is that Mr. Warrick was from Londonderry, Ohio, a burg just a few minutes from my home. He grew up on a dairy farm before serving in World War II. In 1946, he decided that painting barns sounded better than milking cows.
These iconic barns had already been around since 1891 when he started out for $32 a week. I read that he could do a new one in six hours and touch up several in a day, starting always with the “e” in chew. He always completed the HEW first because those were his initials.
The 1965 Highway Beautification Act prohibited billboard advertising within 640 feet of an interstate highway, basically ending the Mail Pouch barn program along the nation’s major highways. Luckily, they are designated National Historic Landmarks so these great barns should be around for a while.
As for Warrick, he was able to continue painting barns along lesser roads for Swisher International Group, the company that owned Mail Pouch. He was the last of the Mail Pouch painters and the program was suspended when he retired.
After retiring, Mr. Warrick painted Mail Pouch bird feeders and mail boxes from his Belmont, Ohio workshop. He died in 2000 at the age of 76.
The image above is from a farm along a country road at New Salem, Ohio. I made it in 2020 while out on a nice socially distanced drive. After all these years of admiring these landmark barns, I had no idea that the artist was from my very own area!
Isn’t it wonderful that we can still learn something new every day?
This advertising mural can be found on the outskirts of Chillicothe, Ohio’s historic downtown district.
Elsie the Cow was the mascot for Borden Dairy Company since her creation in 1936 until the company went belly up in the nineties. You still see her used in advertising for some of the company’s successors including Eagle Family Foods and Borden Dairy.
I have no idea how long Elsie has been on this building but it looks like she’s had a touch up or two over the decades. The company once had a presence in Chillicothe. I know this because I’m the proud owner of some sundae glasses with Elsie’s likeness on them – they were a gift to a relative when she retired from the company some sixty or seventy years ago.
I try to drive by when I’m in town simply because that smiling face is so udderly beautiful. And holy cow, do we need a little beauty in our lives!!