Guns and Peanuts

Saw this ad for peanuts in the subway this morning. It was doubly jarring. First, because I am not used to seeing the word “peanut” in public unless it is followed by the word “-free,” as in “peanut-free school,” “peanut-free party,” “peanut-free environment,” etc. And second: because the kid in the ad is holding a couple of toy guns! Many parents I know don’t let their kids play with any sort of toy gun, ever. (I happen to not be one of those parents.) As a result, their kids — their boys, mostly, to be clear — just make guns out of sticks, rulers, broomsticks, pens, fingers, etc.

I guess if you’re making an ad for one product that people are squeamish about, you might as well double down and go for the full effect.


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  1. Pawe? Gola says:

    OK, I can see why the guns might be controversial — but what’s the problem with peanuts again? I come from Europe and have honestly no idea.

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    • Joe j says:

      Personally I see the opposite.
      Peanut allergies are rare, (less than 1% of the population but growing) but are pretty severe when they occur, and it doesn’t take much to trigger a reaction.

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  2. padugan says:

    The only thing “jarring” about this ad is that you found it jarring enough to write about it. that speaks volumes as to the softening of America. we’ve become a nation of pansies. How is it the bloody images from Boston were not “jarring” but a child obviously playing and having fun is? We are in some very very serious trouble here. Anyone who thinks this image is jarring should be removed from civilization immediately until we can determine what illness is effecting their brain.

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    • phil persinger says:


      Perhaps what Dubner found jarring was the juxaposition of the word “peanut” with the image of toy guns in the poster. Advertisements do this all the time: provide surreal contrasts amongst and within the neurologically-separate categories of words, images and actions.
      The questions remain: is the thought and research behind the ad based on any real knowledge and is all the money and effort invested in this endeavor results in any of the intended results?

      And my question to you: how is American indifference to the images of the victims of terrorism evidence of “softening?” I would have thought that indifference would be evidence to the contrary.

      And a further question: why is Dubner’s obvious amusement over the poster the cause of your wanting to remove him from society? Did you not see the humor, or am I being too dense to see your humor?

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    • steve cebalt says:

      Hi Padugan: I’ve observed that anything light-hearted in this forum is dismissed by some people who are humor-impaired. They equate “intelligence” with “seriousness.” A “civilian” who recently posed a light-hearted idea about the government “fixing” sports games to pay down the deficit was crucified by a few humorless commenters who displayed their ignorance by not recognizing his light-hearted intent. You said Mr. Levitt “should be removed from civilization immediately until we can determine what illness is effecting their brain.” Because I am not humor-impaired, I recognize that your comment is hyperbole, perhaps intended to be humorous because it is so over-the-top. It’s not funny though. Someone needs to speak up and say that intelligence comes in many forms, including humor and light-hearted observations like this excellent topic. People who do not enjoy amusing, quirky observations on odd topics are in the wrong place.

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      • Steve Cebalt says:

        Correction: I meant Mr. Dubner, not Mr. Levitt. Apologies.

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      • phil persinger says:

        In everyone’s defense: humor, like a crocodile, lunges from hidden places. One often does not realize the encounter has even occurred until someone else points out the missing leg. I seem to have all my limbs right now, but I may feel differently about that in the morning….

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  3. Lauren says:

    I can understand maybe being put off by the guns a little bit…. even though they’re clearly just squirt guns, but I do find it odd that anyone would feel squeamish about seeing the word “peanut” in public. My 2 year old is allergic to peanuts, but I understand that most people aren’t, and for those people peanuts are a tasty, healthy, natural snack. I see nothing wrong with a peanut producer advertising their product.

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  4. Rick says:

    Not used to seeing the word peanuts? There are restaurants in my town where a bowl of un-shelled peanuts is served as a free appetizer. Just throw the shells on the floor. Not to mention the roadside stands along the highways just east of hear hawking boiled peanuts.

    Some of the best birthday parties we gave my kids were where everybody was turned out into the yard with a water gun and a bucket of water balloons.

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  5. hanmeng says:

    I think the association is intentional. By the way, according to Wikipedia, “The National Peanut Board is funded by a mandatory one percent assessment levied on all American peanut farmers’ crop values,” so even peanut farmers who don’t want to have anything to do with it are forced to support it.

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  6. Jon Dickenson says:

    Got to agree with comments here. The advert is a kid playing. And he’s advertising something that millions of us eat every day.
    It’s a non-story I’m afraid.

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  7. Seriously? says:

    Literally one of the dumbest things I’ve read in a long time. I wish I had that part of my life back

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  8. Neil_SM says:

    Guns don’t kill people. Children kill people with peanuts.

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