September 13 is National Peanut Day, a holiday to celebrate America’s favorite legume. Peanuts are unavoidable in the American diet, as one half of the popular peanut butter and jelly sandwich and in dozens of our favorite candy bars. It’s no surprise that National Peanut Day is actually one of several holidays we have to celebrate the peanut.
Here’s a look at the cool holiday and some surprising facts about the peanut.
1. The Exact Origin of National Peanut Butter Day Is Unknown, Especially Since March Is National Peanut Month
The Kiwanis Family of Clubs celebrates an annual Kieanis Peanut Day in the Midwest, but that day is September 22. The organization created the holiday in September 1951. The “Peanut Day” fundraising program has raised over $75 million since then.
There are also other peanut-related holidays. National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day was on April 2. National Peanut Butter Day is January 24. National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day is March 1. Thankfully there’s no National Peanut Butter Hater’s Day.
2. China Produces the Most Peanuts in the World, Making Over 13 Billion Metric Tons of Groundnuts
While the U.S. loves peanuts, it’s China that makes the most of them worldwide. World Atlas notes that China produces 13,336,860 metric tons of groundnuts annually, citing a Food And Agriculture Organization of the United Nations report. China also contributed to 8 percent of the world’s total peanut export.
India comes in second with 7,156,448 metric tons of nuts, but its peanuts are exported to more countries. Therefore, India contributed 37 percent of the total world export, with peanuts going to Indonesia, Pakistan and Malaysia.
Surprisingly, Nigeria came in third, producing 2,755,649 metric tons. The country produces 30 percent of all nuts in Africa. The U.S. came in fourth with 1,837,519 metric tons.
3. Peanuts Aren’t Real Nuts, Even Though They Are the Most Popular ‘Nut’ in the U.S.
As many people know, peanuts aren’t real nuts. It is a grain legumes, which is also considered an oil crop. Although it is not a real nut, it is the most popular kind of “nut” in the U.S. According to the Peanut Institute, peanuts and peanut butter make up 67 percent of all nut consumption in the U.S. Almonds – which are a real nut – come in a distant second with 13 percent.
Peanuts are used as a nut in Western cuisine. But it grows underground, like other legumes, such as peas or beans. Real nuts, like walnuts and almonds, grow above ground.
As the Peanut Institute explains, U.S. peanut production began to climb in the early 1900s. Thanks to George Washington Carver’s research and the popularity of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the peanut became America’s favorite nut.
4. Peanut Allergies Are the Most Common Among Food Allergies for Children & Can Be Fatal
According to statistics from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, peanut is the most common allergen among children with food allergies, ahead of milk and shelfish. Between 2009 and 2010, a study of over 38,000 children found that 8 percent had a food allergy.
Food Allergy Research & Education found in its most recent report that over 170 foods have been found to cause allergic reactions in the U.S. and 15 million Americans have food allergies.
Peanut and other food allergies can be fatal and last long after childhood. In the U.K. The Sun reported that 24-year-old Georgina Hackman died after eating one peanut-flavored crisp while out with friends. She was in the hospital for four days before her death on April 5, 2017.
In December 2016, Merrill Debbs was featured on the Today Show after her 11-year-old son Oakley died after eating a slice of cake before Thanksgiving that had a walnut in it. Ninety minutes after eating the nut, he was dead. After her son’s death, she started the Red Sneaker Foundation to raise awareness for food allergies.
5. A 2016 Survey Estimates That Americans Will Eat Nearly 3,000 PB&J Sandwiches In Their Lifetime
The Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich is such an integral part of the American diet that a 2016 study estimated that Americans will eat nearly 3,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The study of 1,000 Americans, conducted by Peter Pan Simply Ground Peanut Butter, found that Americans will eat 2,984 PB&J sandwiches in their lifetime.
The study also found that the average adult eats three PB&J sandwiches a month and half of Americans eat PB&Js regularly.
In January 2012, Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti of Illinois set the Guinness World Record for most PB&J sandwiches eaten in a minute. Bertoletti devoured six in 60 seconds! Of course, Bertoletti is a world-famous professional eater. He also holds the world title for most peanut butter and banana sandwiches eaten in 10 minutes with 28. Bertoletti also appeared on America’s Got Talent.