Long before the recent (relatively) peanut salmonella scare, I was having my own battle with the National Peanut Board.
My dilemma started, as is often the case, on the subway. The Board was heavily advertising on the subway and as I love peanuts, I finally broke down and said, “damn, I’ve got to get me some peanuts.” Not just any peanuts though. I’m picky. I prefer peanuts in the shell — and here’s the key — salted. Now in my experience, this isn’t a big deal. In cities across this great peanut-loving nation, salted peanuts in the shell are easily purchased in a big bag at a supermarket. And since I now live in New York City — where a person can get just about anything under the sun (and delivered at that) — I went down to my local market.
But alas, it seems that it’s nearly impossible to get a salted, in-shell peanut in NYC. The market had tons of big bags of peanuts in the shell — but all of them unsalted. (It’s like comparing a cucumber to a pickle. I’ve never bought a cucumber, but I eat pickles all the time.) Sure, I could have created a brine, soaked the peanuts and then dried them, but I didn’t have the time, the money or more importantly the will. I wanted salted peanuts in the shell and I wanted them now!
This inevitably led me on an all points multiple store search which turned up but a single tiny bag at a local bodega containing about 4 peanuts — and costing about $4.00. Hungry and angry, I turned to the internet for salvation. Perhaps there was a giant peanut processing warehouse somewhere in the city where I could roll around in a massive pile of salted in-shell peanuts.?
Shockingly, no. The only places in the city that had peanuts were specialty stores featuring gift baskets — and no salted, in-shell peanuts. None. Nada. Zip.
This led me to seek out the Peanut Board because if I wasn’t going to be able to get any peanuts, I wanted them to stop advertising the damn things. It’s just cruel. (I did feel some solidarity with the poor folks in third world countries who are constantly blasted with the advertising of things they can’t get, let alone afford.)
So I emailed the Peanut Board (via their website) saying just that — either stop advertising (and making me hungry) or encourage vendors to start supplying the NYC area with salted in-shell peanuts. We’re here, we’re hungry and we’ve got money. Why not start selling the damn things?
Not surprisingly, I received no response from the peanut board. It did seem that the ads on the subway lessened but that may have just been the expiration of the ad contract versus any action instigated by my email. Nor did market shelves suddenly swell with bags of salted peanuts. Sigh.
And then along comes news that the processing of peanuts has been tainted with salmonella. So what does the peanut board do? Come out with a new round of advertising touting the health benefits of peanuts of course. I still can’t get a damn salted peanut in the shell and to top it off every time I buy any product with peanuts in it, I take a minute to ask myself if I’m prepared for a bout of potentially lethal food poisoning.
(As a side note, I should let you know that my wife, upon hearing of my dilemma and my email to the peanut board, is convinced that I’m guaranteed to become the grumpiest curmudgeon ever.)
Just writing this post has given me a craving. Please send me peanuts. Salted. In the shell.
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