Our beloved grandfather, Poppy Sol, started this business in an open-air market. Three generations later, we’re still bringing smiles to our customers' faces.
— Ray, S.F., Ca. August 9, 2009
“I just received my shipment of peanuts and as a peanut guru as they are part of my everyday diet, They are the best I have ever had. Thank you. Ray Lotto”
Peanuts are one of the most well-known and popular nuts around. However, what most people do not know is that peanuts are not actually nuts but legumes. Similar to the pea and bean, its name is predicated on the nut-like characteristics of the fruit. Due to popular usage rather than botanical consideration, it is generally considered to be a nut.
The peanut is native to South America. There is archaeological evidence that the peanuts had already been introduced in pre Columbian times to the dry, coastal regions of Peru near the Trujillo and Ancon some thirty-five centuries ago. Radioactive carbon dating indicates that peanuts were known in Peru at the time of the introduction of ceramic pottery, about 1200 to 1500 B.C. Well-preserved peanut plant remains have been found in Inca mummy bundles and burial sites, often contained in small string bags along with other plant remains including maize, beans, chili peppers and coca. Terra cotta funerary vases, decorated with molded replicas of peanut pods, have been unearthed in several prehistoric, Peruvian coastal cemeteries.
Before the Civil War, peanuts were known throughout the South as groundnuts, ground peas, pindars, goobers and goober peas. Dealers of other edible nuts suggested that peanuts were lowly food fit only for the poor. However, that could be further from the truth. During the Civil War military campaign in eastern Virginia where the crop was being cultivated, thousands of soldiers from both sides and all parts of the country tasted peanuts for the first time and to know and appreciate them. From time to time, they were rations for Confederate troops, which gave rise to the popular folk song of the day known as eating Goober Peas:
"Sitting by roadside, on a summer day, Chatting with my messmates, passing time away, Living in the shadow, underneath the trees, Goodness how delicious, eating goober peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Eating goober peas! Goodness how delicious, eating goober peas!"
After Appomattox in 1865, returning soldiers brought back peanuts to places where the nuts had previously been unknown, thus creating new demand. Within the next five years, peanut production in the United States increased two hundred percent. Around 1870, the famous showman, Phineas T. Barnum, introduced peanuts to New York City through his circus. By the end of the nineteenth century, they were being eaten as a snack throughout the country, sold fresh-roasted by street vendors as well as at baseball games and circuses, as circus wagons rolled into towns from Maine to California. Peanuts were consumed in the cheap seats of theatre balconies, which became known as "peanut galleries."
Around 1920, farmers in the southern states were forced to find another cash crop to take the place of cotton: the boll weevil, a grayish, long-snouted beetle that infested and destroyed cotton bolls, had ravaged cotton to such an extent in many regions that the crop was no longer profitable. They were found to be an ideal substitute: they grew well on cotton land, cropping systems and oil mills could readily be converted from cotton to peanuts.
George Washington Carver, an American botanist, was a pioneer in peanut research. Born a slave on a Missouri farm, he worked his way through school and college, earning a master's degree in agriculture from Iowa Agriculture College(later named Iowa State), where he became the first black faculty member. In 1896 he accepted an invitation to come to Tuskegee Institute as head of the new Department of Agriculture. For forty-seven years, Carver taught, wrote and worked in his Tuskegee laboratory where he developed over 300 products from peanuts, peanut shells and peanut foliage, ranging from cheese and mayonnaise to shaving cream, soaps, dyes, wallboard and plastics. He was able to serve an entire dinner in which all food was made from peanuts, including soup, meat, vegetables, milk, ice cream and coffee. He taught farmers in the South how to increase their peanut production and grow better peanuts, while he encouraged farmers to plant hardy peanuts instead of cotton. This extraordinary scientist refused to allow any of his discoveries to be patented since he wanted them to be available for the widest possible use.
Today, there are three main types of peanuts grown in the United States: Virginias, Runners (which have red skins), and Spanish (which have tan skins). These varieties usually contain two kernels in each shell. The Virginia kernel, grown mostly in the Virginia-Carolina region, is the largest and, when shelled, is in demand as cocktail nuts and salted peanuts. The medium sized Runners and small Spanish peanuts are utilized in the manufacture of peanut candies, peanut butter and peanut oil. The Southeast grows mainly Runners, while the Southwest produces roughly two-thirds Spanish and one-third Runners. A small amount of another type of peanut called Valencia, in demand for roasting in the shell is produced in New Mexico; it has a long shell which contains three or four small, sweet kernels. The relative popularity of these various types has changed over time and today the Runner dominates, accounting for seventy-two percent of total production. Virginias follow with some sixteen percent, and Spanish about eleven percent, and Valencia only .6 percent.
India is by far the world's largest producer of peanuts, followed by main land China. India and China together, produce over fifty percent of the world's bulk peanuts. The United States follows in third place, despite much higher yields per acre - about triple the average in India. Although not a major area for growing peanuts, Peru is the home of sacha inchi, also known as Inca peanuts, with superfood superpowers.
Peanuts have to be dug out of the soil during harvesting and thus contain a high moisture level of twenty-five to thirty-five percent which must be reduced to ten percent to help prevent spoilage. About ten percent of the Unites States peanut crop is sold in the shell. Mostly the Virginia and Valencia type. The remaining peanuts are cleaned, shelled, graded, and then packaged to be sent out for selling.
In the United States, the major use for peanuts is for peanut butter followed by salted and shelled. They contain about twenty-six percent protein. Higher than dairy products, eggs, fish, and many cuts of meat. Since their inception in the United States, peanuts have been and continue to be the most widely used "nut" in this country.
They can be prepared in a variety of ways. Roasted are very popular. Boiled peanuts are another tasty snack. If you like your nuts spicy, try our Cajun or wasabi peanuts. Or if you have a sweet tooth, try our chocolate peanuts or butternut varieties.
We also offer wholesale peanuts.