September 13 - National Peanut Day

Posted on September 13, 2018

Are peanuts your favorite nuts?

Trick question - because they aren't actually nuts!

Nuts that are true nuts - that is, that are botanically nuts - are hard-shelled pods that contain both the fruit and the seed of the plant. Here are a few examples:

Chestnuts, hazelnuts, acorns.

A lot of "tree nuts" aren't true nuts, but are instead drupes, because the part we eat are just the seeds of the plant. Outside of the seed is a hard shell and then a fleshy fruit (often not edible for humans). Examples of drupes that we think of as nuts include:

Walnuts, almonds, and pecans.

And then there are peanuts, which aren't any of those things. Peanuts aren't true nuts, aren't tree nuts, and aren't drupes. Instead, they are legumes, in the same family with peas and beans. They are an edible seed encased in a hard shell, but they grow underground!

Peanut isn't too bad a name for this food, since peanuts are related to peas. Some other names for peanuts include groundnuts, ground peas, and goobers

If we were to compare peanuts to all the other foods we call nuts, we would find that peanuts are way higher in protein than the rest. Peanuts are also high in vitamins and minerals, and they help us absorb nutrients found in other foods better, and they contain antioxidants. 

Here are a few more facts about peanuts for you to chomp on:

In the U.S., peanuts became more popular when Civil War soldiers ate them - and enjoyed them! - and when P.T. Barnum started selling "hot roasted peanuts" at his circus.

Hot roasted peanuts also became a thing at baseball games. So much so that a song about baseball implores, "Buy me some peanuts and Crackerjacks / I don't care if I never get back."

George Washington Carver famously encouraged farmers to diversity their crops by growing peanuts. He came up with dozens and dozens of uses for peanuts, too!

Enjoy some peanut-ty foods today - like these!

Also on this date:

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