I just read your column about Circus Peanuts. In all seriousness, I happen to like Circus Peanuts. I really do. I'm not kidding. Just thought you should know that there was someone in the world who actually likes the things.
— Brian, via the Internet
I wholeheartedly (and proudly) love Circus Peanuts! Can't keep them in the house. Can't say there is a rational reason why, but stale or fresh (not that you really can tell the difference), I can't get enough of them.
— Christopher Leeds, assistant professor, Rush University, Chicago
I truly and honestly like Circus Peanuts. Circus Peanuts are yummy. Mmmm, Circus Peanuts. Good, good, good. I seem to be the only person willing to admit my enjoyment of the orange banana things (I know not what they are nor do I care), thus I must defend them when they are under such an attack as was waged in your column. I do not eat them very often, but since reading your column I have developed a craving. Mmmm.
— Mary K., Chicago
Hand me a plate with a Godiva chocolate, a DoveBar, and a half dozen Circus Peanuts to choose from and I'll take the third.
Illustration by Slug Signorino
I’ll be damned.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. If Marv Albert gets his kicks dressing in women’s underwear, what’s so weird about liking Circus Peanuts?
Don’t get me wrong. As I said before, I’m not one of those people who gag at the mere thought of Circus Peanuts. I’ve eaten them without throwing up. But to say that you are genuinely fond of this candy…I dunno. I think it bespeaks a serious mental disturbance.
Granted, it appears to be a fairly common mental disturbance. We got letters from dozens of people proclaiming their love, or at least their serious like, of Circus Peanuts. Many of them seem to realize this is strange, even if they don’t explicitly say so. Take Mary K. above. “Yummy. Mmmm. Good, good, good.” Laying it on a little thick, wouldn’t you say? Clearly Circus Peanuts are a way for her to flaunt her rebelliousness, like a drug habit or a scuzzy boyfriend. One can only hope she’ll grow out of it.
Other people are more up-front. John Morrison writes: “Do gays coming out of the closet have this problem? Probably not. They’re greeted with either unreasoning hatred or friendly acceptance. Us Circus Peanut lovers are met with blank-faced bewilderment, as if we had avowed a love of fingernail clippings. Yes! I’m the one who buys ’em, although thanks to the rather unhip image of Circus Peanuts they’re hard to find. Worse yet, perhaps as a result of this incredible media pressure, new strains of CPs have come out: different colors, different flavors, same shape. The connoisseur will accept none of these modern abominations, of course. I might point out that, like chili, CPs gain something by being other than perfectly fresh. The slightly crusty outside of a properly aged Circus Peanut gives it a texture that is far superior to the mushiness of a fresh one.”
JYDog: “Like heroin, they are subtly addictive. Then you gorge yourself, and that orange dye looks so much different when they come rumbling back up.”
Dave Boersema: “Do I remember them??? How could I (or anyone) ever forget them? Much like the mashed potatoes at Kentucky Fried Chicken or some former girlfriends, there was an unexplainable attraction to them followed by a mystified sense of self-doubt bordering on self-loathing. (Why did I eat that? And, I know I’m going to do it again.) Did I like them? Yes and no. It was a love/hate kind of thing. At times I would want them and nothing else would satisfy. It was always the case upon first opening the bag that that strange aroma would hit and I would think, ‘Yes! Circus Peanuts! Who’s your daddy?!’ And the first gentle squeeze — and they had to be gently squeezed — was wonderful. But then, after eating two or three, I started getting that slightly nauseous feeling, though, of course, I would still eat another one or two, so that by the time I stopped I felt gross.”
I close with this thought from Rob Atkinson: “Circus Peanuts are only the beginning of a long list of ‘Who buys this stuff?’ items. At the top of my list at the local supermarket is kraut juice, in little five- or six-ounce cans, six to a pack. I never see anyone buying them, but someone must or they wouldn’t stock them. Can you picture someone relaxing with a nice tall glass of kraut juice? Gross.”
Send questions to Cecil via email@example.com.