Why Was Charles Schulz’s Comic Strip Called Peanuts?

atkins-bookshelf-triviaImagine if you created a comic strip, one that would earn you more than $1 billion during your lifetime (not to mention about $30 million in royalties per year after you shuffle off your mortal coil), and you couldn’t name it, and worse — you hated the name. That’s what happened to Charles Schulz. Back in 1947, Schulz created the comic strip Li’l Folks for his hometown paper, the St. Paul Pioneer press. When United Feature Syndicate (UFS) syndicated the comic strip in 1950, there were two other comic strips with similar names: Little Folks by Tack Knight and Li’l Abner by Al Capp. Schulz suggested “Charlie Brown” or “Good Ol’ Charlie Brown” but UFS settled on Peanuts, submitted by UFS production manager Bill Anderson. The name Peanuts was an allusion to the “peanut gallery” (the in-house audience section for children) of the popular NBC television show “Howdy Doody,” featuring the lovable freckle-faced puppet and Buffalo Bob. Regardless of how popular the television show and its peanut gallery was, Schulz did not like it all. In an interview, Schulz expresses his dislike of the name: “I don’t like the name of my strip at all. I wanted to call it Good Old Charlie Brown, but the person at the syndicate who selected Peanuts just picked it at random from a list of possible titles he jotted down. He hadn’t even looked at the strip when he named it. The syndicate compromised on Sunday, though. Once I rebelled and sent it in without any title. We finally agreed to put Peanuts at the top and include Charlie Brown and His Gang in the sub-title on Sunday.” In an interview with R. C. Harvey, author of The Art of the Comic Book, Schulz felt insulted by the name: “I don’t even like the word. It’s not a nice word. It’s totally ridiculous… and has no dignity. And I think my humor has dignity… They [UFS] didn’t know when I walked in here that here was a fanatic. Here was a kid totally dedicated to what he was going to do. And then to label something that was going to be a life’s work with a name like Peanuts was really insulting.”

Despite the comic strip’s enormous success and popularity, Schulz never warmed up to the name of his comic strip. Melissa McGann, the archivist at the Charles Schulz Museum and Research Center, elaborates: “Schulz always disliked the name, and for the first several years of the strip’s run he continually asked UFS to change the name… Up until his death [Febuary 12, 2000], Schulz maintained that he didn’t like the name Peanuts and wished it was something else.”

Read related posts: Top-Earning Deceased Celebrities
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Best Dog Novels
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For further reading: Imponderables by David Feldman, Readers Digest (2006)

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