Design and Business Classic: Mr. Peanut

If Fred Astaire were reincarnated as a nut, he'd definitely be the Planters' Mr. Peanut. Charming and dapper, Mr. Peanut is the kind of nut that you'd be proud to take to any party. Just from looking at him, you know he's in a different class from the "rowdy" peanuts that vendors toss out in paper bags at ball games.

The trademark of Planters Nut, now a division of RJR Nabisco, Mr. Peanut was the brainchild of a thirteen year-old Virginia schoolboy named Antonio Gentile. In a logo contest sponsored by Planters in 1916, young Antonio submitted a drawing of a peanut person with arms and crossed legs, which he labeled "Mr. Peanut." Planters awarded Antonio the grand prize of $5. Later, a professional illustrator reinforced the impression that Planters nuts were a cut above the ordinary by giving Antonio's crude peanut person a top hat, monocle, white gloves and cane.

As dashing and charismatic as ever, the 82-year-old Mr. Peanut has become a celebrity in his own right, appearing in the San Francisco stage show "Beach Blanket Babylon" and honored with a statue and a small museum in his home town of Suffolk, Virginia, which touts itself as the Peanut Capital of the World. Fourteen cast-iron statues of the nut that made Planters famous also line the fence of the company's new processing facility in town. A plethora of Mr. Peanut objects, ranging from salt-and-pepper shakers to toys, has also spawned a collectibles category all its own. No mere corporate logo, Mr. Peanut has become an American icon, beloved by millions around the world.