Remembering the Planters Peanut Shops

Monday, August 4, 2008 - by Harmon Jolley
Postcard for The Peanut Store at 4827 Brainerd Road.  Customers could see peanuts being roasted, and were encouraged to mail them to friends back home.   Click to enlarge.
Postcard for The Peanut Store at 4827 Brainerd Road. Customers could see peanuts being roasted, and were encouraged to mail them to friends back home. Click to enlarge.

A downtown sandwich shop has recently begun a unique advertising campaign. A person suits up in a giant fountain drink cup, and walks around the central city. The sight has brought smiles to a few faces, though some observers may have drifted into that old argument of “half full” versus “half empty.” It’s a type of advertising that reminds me of the days of old when a giant Mr. Peanut walked the streets of downtown.

In 1929, the Planters Peanut Company opened a chain of stores under a subsidiary, the National Peanut Corporation. In 1938, twenty-six year old entrepreneur Ernest H. Longworth opened a peanut shop in downtown Chattanooga at 615 Market Street. Mr. Longworth had moved to Chattanooga from Nashville, where he was listed in the 1930 census as a laborer.

The peanut storefront on Market Street had formerly been a Gilman Paint store. It was located in the heart of the retail business district. Nearby businesses included Effron’s (607 Market), Haverty’s Furniture (619), and Miller Brothers (corner of Seventh and Market). The State Theater was across the street at 628 Market, and J.C. Penney was on the corner of Sixth and Market. As shoppers made their way from store to store, they were drawn to the peanut shop by the aroma of the roasting peanuts.

The Planters shops sold a variety of toys and figurines in addition to the sacks of peanuts. Most featured Mr. Peanut, the suave corporate icon of Planters. On the shelves were cups with the face and top hat of Mr. Peanut, make-your-own peanut butter makers, and banks. Each of these items is now very collectible according to an Internet search.

A person in a Mr. Peanut costume would sometimes greet customers at the store, or walk the sidewalks of downtown to draw customers. It was an era when Market Street lived up to its name, with lots of open-air merchandising.

By the early 1960’s, retailing had moved into new suburban areas around Chattanooga. Mr. Longworth opened a branch of his store at 5951 Brainerd Road. The location was convenient to customers of the new Brainerd Village and Eastgate Mall. Getting a bag of peanuts after a game of miniature golf at Goony Golf or Putt-Putt was a treat.

Ernest Longworth passed away in 1964. His widow, Mildred, managed the stores until the late 1960’s. The Brainerd store relocated to other addresses including 3924 Brainerd Road at Belvoir and 4827 Brainerd Road before closing. By 1969, a Chow Hound Restaurant had opened in the Market Street building where so many had been served those legendary legumes from Planters.

If you miss the Planters Peanut Shop, I can offer you a solution for your nostalgia. It is possible to grow peanuts in this area, as long as you either have naturally sandy soil or you enhance your clay soil to favor peanuts. I buy my Jumbo Virginia seed peanuts from a mail-order company. After we harvest the peanuts in the early fall, we roast them in the oven. The aroma reminds me of the days of my childhood, and trips downtown to shop.

Don’t turn on your ceiling fan and open your windows while roasting your peanuts, unless you want your neighbors to come over.

If you remember the Planters Peanut shops, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@bellsouth.net.

The National Peanut Shop at 615 Market Street was in the heart of the downtown shopping district.  A tall neon sign of Mr. Peanut beckoned customers.  Click to enlarge.
The National Peanut Shop at 615 Market Street was in the heart of the downtown shopping district. A tall neon sign of Mr. Peanut beckoned customers. Click to enlarge.
- photo by courtesy of Chattanooga-Hamilton County Library

George Little Painting Of Union Depot Finds New Home At Florence, Ala.

Secretary Of State Works with Tennessee General Assembly Members Of Washington County To Find Pathway Of Return For State’s First Deed Book

Picnooga Opening Location On E. 7th Street


A painting by iconic Chattanooga artist George Little of the Union Station has found a new home with a railroad lover in Florence, Ala. John Bonney, who is originally from England, has ... (click for more)

Secretary of State Tre Hargett will be delivering a historic copy of Washington County’s first property records to Jonesborough on June 1, a date which also marks the 225th anniversary of Tennessee’s ... (click for more)

The Chattanooga Historical Society (Picnooga) will open a downtown storefront location at 110 E. 7th St. in late summer or early fall of 2021, founder David Moon said. The building is currently ... (click for more)



Memories

George Little Painting Of Union Depot Finds New Home At Florence, Ala.

A painting by iconic Chattanooga artist George Little of the Union Station has found a new home with a railroad lover in Florence, Ala. John Bonney, who is originally from England, has been living in the USA for over 20 years. He says of his train passion, "My hobbies are railroads and model railroads, and I have traveled all over the world by train, including from Seattle, ... (click for more)

Secretary Of State Works with Tennessee General Assembly Members Of Washington County To Find Pathway Of Return For State’s First Deed Book

Secretary of State Tre Hargett will be delivering a historic copy of Washington County’s first property records to Jonesborough on June 1, a date which also marks the 225th anniversary of Tennessee’s statehood. Known as “Deed Book A,” the document recorded the first land purchase—dated March 19, 1775—made in territory that ultimately became the state of Tennessee, marking ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Internet Has Been Installed At No Charge In More Than A Third Of County School Students Through EdConnect Program

Less than a year since its launch, HCS EdConnect, Powered by EPB, has installed Internet at no charge in the homes of more than a third of all Hamilton County Schools students, "marking an unprecedented leap in closing the digital divide," officials said. Before the program’s launch, officials estimated that up to one-third of Hamilton County Schools students did not have Internet ... (click for more)

34-Year-Old Man Killed In Shooting Early Saturday Morning Outside The Mapco On Brainerd Road

Billy Burson, 34, was shot and killed early Saturday morning outside the Mapco on Brainerd Road. Chattanooga Police were dispatched to a hold-up alarm at 4711 Brainerd Road at approximately 12:30 a.m. Officers located Burson suffering from multiple gunshot wounds and secured the scene. Hamilton County EMS responded and pronounced Burson deceased on the scene. Investigators ... (click for more)

Opinion

In The Twilight Zone At The School Board

I have a friend who used to say, “I have been to two World’s Fairs and a hog calling contest and I have never seen the beat.” That is exactly the feeling I had after last month’s four-hour marathon School Board meeting. I have been attending school board meetings for the last 20 years and I have never seen another one quite like it. This meeting had it all. For the first time ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: 'Survivor' Speaks Here

It’s one thing to tell a loudmouth in Texas he’s “all hat and no cattle.” And it’s altogether another to ask some fellow in an Abilene beer hall “where do you let you wife graze?” Throughout the history of the Lone Star State, there have been many gun fights, differences settled at the OK Corral or The Alamo, but the most heinous scoundrel of all is one who’ll kill another man’s ... (click for more)