Heritage Peanut Co.
 
 

Storied History

Boiling peanuts has been a folk cultural practice in the Southern United States, where they were originally called goober peas, since at least the 19th century. The practice of eating boiled peanuts was likely brought by slaves from West Africa, where the related bambara groundnut is a traditional staple crop.[2]:64 In July and August, when the peanut crops would come in, unsold and surplus peanuts would be prepared in a boiling, and extended families and neighbors would gather to share conversation and food. Like a fish fry, peanut boils have been organizing principles for social gatherings. Like okra, fried green tomatoes, black-eyed peascollard greens and pork barbecue, boiled peanuts are symbols of Southern culture and cuisine.

The first recipe for boiled peanuts was published by Almeda Lambert in 1899.[2]:64 Boiled peanuts became a mainstream commodity in the lower South in the early 20th century.[2]:64 A 1925 account from Orangeburg, South Carolina, (where author Andrew F. Smith believes the sale of boiled peanuts may have begun) mentions boys hawking the food as a snack for five cents per bag.[2]:64 The snack was also canned for consumption out of season.[2]:64

 
 
 
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Roadside Stand

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Boiled Peanut

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Civil War

 
 

It is believed that boiled peanuts have been a southern institution since at least the Civil War (1861-1865), when Union General William T. Sherman (1820-1891) led his troops on their march through Georgia.  As a result of General Sherman’s campaign in Georgia, the Confederacy was split in two and deprived of much needed supplies.

Contemporary writings are full of complaints of lack of bread and meat.  The great concern of the Confederate government was to feed the army.  When troops of the Confederacy were without food, peanuts were an important nutritional source.  Since cooking facilities were scarce, soldiers roasted the peanuts over campfires or boiled them.  It seems to be lost in history as to who came up with the idea of adding salt to the peanuts when boiling them.  What they were doing by boiling in salt, is an ancient preservation technique.  It was discovered that these boiled peanuts would keep and not spoil in their kits for up to seven day.  The salt works as a preservative, and the boiling kills impurities and bacteria.  This produced a high protein ration that could be carried by the soldier.  As salt was also scarce during the Civil War, history doesn’t tell us how the confederate soldiers had enough salt to use, unless salt meat, a large part of the army ration, was used somehow.

Confederate soldiers also adopted peanuts as a cheap coffee substitute along with parched rye, wheat, corn, sweet potatoes, chestnuts, chicory, and cotton seed.  Some history books note that Confederate soldiers from Georgia were known as “goober grabbers.”It was during the slave-trading years of the 17th and 18th centuries that the peanut was first brought to the southeastern United States, and for a long time it was assumed that the peanut had originated in Africa.  However, peanuts actually originated in Brazil and Peru.

 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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A Few Interesting Facts

In the South, boiled peanuts are often called "goobers" or "goober peas." Goober is the Gullah adaptation of "nguba" – the African word for peanut.

Peanuts aren't nuts! They're actually part of the legume or bean family. Unlike other nuts, which grow on trees, peanuts actually begin as a ground flower. The weight of the flower forces it to mature under the soil – hence the name "groundnut."

The smallest, most immature green peanuts are called "pops" and absorb the most salt during the boiling process. These have softer shells and are usually enjoyed whole!

Goobers are good for you! Boiled peanuts are a great source of vitamins and minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.

 
 

 

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