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Monday, June 01, 2020
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Circus Peanuts



     When I was a child under the age of 10, I would often spend Saturday with my paternal grandmother on Bland Avenue here in Shelbyville. I knew that my grandmother would usually offer to walk with me “uptown" in order that I might be able to purchase some treat that day.


     The treats would often be on my shortlist of likes and would usually be some kind of sweets or favorite foods. In those days, I loved the pickled peaches my grandmother would purchase for me from the A and P grocery store. On other days she would also allow me to visit one of the local 5 and 10 cent stores also on Main Street in town. I liked Van’s store but as I recall Bradbury’s had a better choice of sweet candies. So if given the opportunity, my grandmother would allow me to spend between 10 and 25 cents on some confectionery delight.  I loved anything peppermint. But occasionally my taste would travel in the direction of those funny looking marshmallow containing objects called “circus peanuts”.


      I suspect you recall those large peanut shaped orange colored candies that were usually sold loose by the pound or portion. I recall liking the banana flavor of these soft candies.  I can also recall that they sometimes were in different colors and flavors. My other recollection of these candies was that they would become stale fairly quickly if not kept in the cellophane bags that they sometimes came in. I  remember placing the un aten candy in an old Mason jar and screw the lid tightly so as to keep the candy from becoming hard and tasteless. The other alternative which I found more to my liking was to eat them soon after the purchase. My father also had an appetite for the Circus Peanuts. So he was willing to help me with my candy acquisitions.


      I found out recently that these candies originated in the 1800s and came about as a result of a farmer attempting to insulate his dairy barn with objects shaped like these peanuts. Somehow he came up with the idea of making a candy out of the same shape mold. Originally these candies were more available in the spring time when the traveling circus would be going around the country and stopping in small towns for a few days of circus underneath the big canvas tent. As a result, the candies in the shape of a peanut form became known simply as Circus Peanuts.


     The other day I was in the local Cracker Barrel store. And what should catch my eye but bags of Circus Peanuts wrapped in cellophane packages. The sight of those packages reminded me of those wonderful times with my grandmother so long ago.  She possessed that unconditional love that led to her to walking with me to those 5 and 10 cent stores here in Shelbyville so many years ago. By that time she was in her 80’s.


      I really don’t care for those peanuts anymore. But I love the sweet memory of a wonderful grandmother and her generosity to a little boy and his sweet tooth.