This place was nuts
I recently wrote about an engrossing noir from 1957, Paul Wendkos‘ “The Burglar” starring Dan Duryea and Jane Mansfield, which was largely filmed on location in Philadelphia and Atlantic City. (Read the article HERE.) This South Jersey boy recognized a few of the locations, but my mind was especially blown to see the old Planters Peanuts store again.
Gosh, I remember that Planters store at 1011 Boardwalk like it was yesterday. It had a man in a Mr. Peanut costume waving in the front (unseen in “The Burglar,” natch), and a color statue of Mr. Peanut inside. When you walked into the store, the fragrance of freshly roasted peanuts was powerful. (For many years, I’d experienced nothing else like it, until I discovered Ward’s on Broad Street in Newark, which sells fresh-roasted peanuts.) Planters also carried lotsa candy and Mr. Peanut novelties. It was Kid Heaven.
This was the 1960s. Planters was directly across from Steel Pier, where the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and James Brown performed. But I was 6, and Mr. Peanut was waving out front, so I didn’t notice the Steel Pier marquee. (At the time, Mr. Peanut was more important than the Beatles.)
About 15 years ago, I found a plastic Mr. Peanut cup from the store (above) at a garage sale in East Brunswick. I got it for a buck. (I saw one on eBay for $14.99, so I’m wa-a-ay ahead.) God willing, I’ll take it to the grave.
Digression: While thinkin’ about the Planters store, I suddenly had a weird memory. Didn’t the store have chickens who played baseball? Nope. I was wrong. It wasn’t Planters. But there was a place on the Boardwalk that indeed had these bizarre vending machines, with trained live animals who did tricks. You put in money, and the poor little chicken would push a “bat” on a little stand which hit a little “ball,” and then she’d run the bases. I think a bell alerted the chicken when it was show time. If I remember correctly, the machine was rigged with sound effects (like, a batting noise and a cheering crowd). There was also a duck that played the piano and kissing bunnies.
We thought it was hilarious when we were kids. Once we got a little older, we felt real sorry for those animals. What kind of a life was that? Sounds like a friggin’ “Twilight Zone” episode. Like, the guy who owns the concession and doesn’t give a s*** about the animals wakes up one day, and he’s running the bases! While a bunch of giant chickens are laughing at him!
Anyhoo, following are some more visual reminders of the Planters Peanuts store in the “Playground of the World” …
Recollection Road’s history of Planters stores and memorabilia.