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The peanut, while grown in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world, is native to the Western Hemisphere. It probably originated in South America and spread throughout the New World as Spanish explorers discovered the peanut’s versatility. When the Spaniards returned to Europe, peanuts went with them. Later, traders were responsible for spreading peanuts to Asia and Africa. The peanut made its way back to North America on sailing ships in the 1700’s. Although there were some commercial peanut farms in the U.S. during the 1700’s and 1800’s, peanuts were not grown extensively. This lack of interest in peanut farming is attributed to the fact that the peanut was regarded as food for the poor and because growing and harvesting techniques were slow and difficult. Until the Civil War, the peanut remained basically a regional food associated with the southern U.S.

about peanuts-peanutsAfter the Civil War, the demand for peanuts increased rapidly. By the end of the nineteenth century, the development of equipment for production, harvesting and shelling peanuts, as well as processing techniques, contributed to the expansion of the peanut industry. The new twentieth century labor-saving equipment resulted in a rapid demand for peanut oil, roasted and salted peanuts, peanut butter and confections.

Peanuts: a Brief History
The peanut, while grown in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world, is native to the Western Hemisphere. It probably originated in South America and spread throughout the New World as Spanish explorers....
Peanut Types and Production
Seven states account for approximately 99% of all peanuts grown in the U.S. Georgia (41%) grows the major proportion of all peanuts followed by Texas (24%), Alabama (10%), North Carolina (9%), Florida (6%), Virginia....
Growing & Harvesting
Peanuts are the seeds of an annual legume, which grows close to the ground and produces its fruit below the soil surface. U.S. peanuts are planted after the last frost in April or May when soil temperatures reach 65–70°....
Shelling & Grading
After proper curing, farmers' stock peanuts (harvested peanuts that have not been shelled, cleaned or crushed) are inspected and graded to establish the quality and value of the product. The inspection process determines....
Value-Added Products
New value-added products have been developed which have a number of applications including bakery, confectionery and the general consumer market. Among these are: Peanut Flour Made from raw peanuts which have been....
Custom Products and Processing
Over the past several years, United States processors and manufacturers have greatly expanded the range of specialized products available. American processors can meet individual specifications and can offer many new and....
U.S. Peanut Supply
Unlike other countries where the end products are peanut oil, cake and meal, the prime market for U.S. peanuts is in edible consumption, and the marketing and production focus is in that direction. Only 15% of U.S.....
Export Peanut Market
World peanut production totals approximately 29 million metric tons per year, with the U.S. being the world’s third largest producer, after China and India. Worldwide peanut exports are approximately 1.25 million metric....
U.S. Quality Control and Research
Consumers throughout the world are concerned about consistently obtaining flavorful, wholesome peanuts that are uniform in size and free from foreign material and contamination. The U.S. peanut industry continues to....
Standards for U.S. Peanuts
All U.S. peanut handlers are obliged to follow the provisions set forth in the Minimum Quality and Handling Standards for Domestic and Imported Peanuts Agreement. This program is administered jointly by The Peanut....
Peanut Specifications and Grade Chart
All U.S. peanut handlers are obliged to follow the provisions set forth in the Minimum Quality and Handling Standards for Domestic and Imported Peanuts Agreement. This program is administered jointly by The Peanut....
Current Legislation
The 2002 Farm Bill changed the peanut program drastically. A two-tiered price system with quota peanuts (sold in the domestic market) and additionals (sold in the export market) was ended and replaced with a market/loan....
Fast Facts About Peanuts
The Health Benefits of Peanuts and Peanut Butter Peanuts and peanut butter are naturally cholesterol-free. Peanuts and peanut butter are protein powerhouses - providing 15% (7.6 g) of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)....

Member Spotlight

  • The Virginia Diner

    An interview with Christine Epperson, President of the Virginia Diner

    APC: This year the Virginia Diner will be celebrating its 85th Anniversary

    The Virginia DinerCE: The Virginia Diner is an important part of Virginia history and there are several special events being planned to mark the anniversary.  There will be two open houses, one from April 25-27 and the major one will be from September 25-28.  We will feature our peanut products and the food for which we have become famous – chicken, ham, biscuits and peanut pie. Special guests and elected officials will be in attendance. Make plans to attend the 85th Anniversary! 

    APC: The Virginia Diner started out as a small diner in a railcar in 1929, when did peanuts become a major part of the business?

    CE: The Diner has been cooking and selling peanuts since the late 1940s.  The peanut part of the business grew out of the Diner, as travelers requested peanuts be shipped to them.  My parents bought the business in 1976. At that time, the mail order part of the business was mostly fourth quarter seasonal with everything still being done in the Diner kitchen utilizing many of the restaurant employees.  It was in the mid-1980s before we had full time staff hired for the peanut side of the business. Today, we provide sample bags of peanuts for diners in the restaurant. The Diner is a whole entity, you can’t have one without the other.

    APC: Is the mail order peanut business larger than the restaurant business, and when did this occur?

    CE: The peanut side is about 80% of our sales now.  Peanuts became a larger business in the mid-1980s. We printed our first "catalog" in 1984. Prior to that, we mailed letters with order forms and yellow envelope –sized cards with our products on them.

    APC: What kinds of peanuts do you use and what are some of your top selling products?

    Virginia Diner Peanut PieCE: We use only Super Extra Large peanuts and we have a production facility for most of our products. The salted peanuts are our best sellers, followed by the double dipped chocolate peanuts and butter toasted peanuts.

    APC: Are Virginia Diner peanuts sold nationwide?

    CE: Yes, but pockets of the business are in large metropolitan areas. We sell to resellers (particularly on the west coast due to shipping costs), internet sales, corporate gifts, home buyers and fundraising groups.

    APC: The American Heart Association has awarded your peanuts the "Heart-Check Food Certification". How has this impacted sales? 

    CE: This is very new and exciting and we are the only peanut company thus far to receive this.  There has been a lot of interest at wholesale shows, but it is too soon to tell.

    APC: Who developed your tag line, "A Legend in a Nutshell since 1929", which your firm has lived up to?

    CE: My father, now deceased, was a visionary.  He came up with the tag line, as well as first naming our product gourmet. He received a phone call from Moscow back in 1977. The ambassador wanted our Virginia Super Extra Large Salted Peanuts shipped to him for a banquet.  My father said that if our peanuts were being served alongside caviar and champagne, then by God we were gourmet! He was also the first among the peanut companies to lead the way to the world wide web.  We were on CompuServe in 1993, DOS, and then Windows 3.1.

    APC: How has APC membership helped your business?

    CE: Membership has given us a wonderful source of information. Helped us reverse the decision to keep peanuts out of the Boy Scout Jamboree in DC (where we sold).  It provides a resource for vendors and to our customers.  Membership also provides us with educational materials, and funding for the Ag schools which assist us with various projects.  And it has helped us prepare a response regarding peanut allergies in the schools when we had a school division threatening to not use our fundraiser.

    APC: Anything else you would like to add?

    GC: We are the oldest continually run roadside Diner in Virginia.

    For more information, visit: www.vadiner.com

    Virginia Diner, Inc.
    322 W. Main Street
    Wakefield, VA 23888

     

     

  • Mississippi Growers AssociationAn interview with Dr. Malcolm Broome, Executive Director, Mississippi Peanut Growers Association.