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.


Or perhaps the part of the country where most peanuts are grown is also where people don't find guns to be particularly jarring?


He saw it in a subway... in NYC...where few peanuts are grown. Also, why would you advertise peanuts to people who grow, or know someone who grows, peanuts? Surely they would be self interested enough to already be buying them?


I wonder if America is broken up into those who live in Big Cities (New York, Chicago, LA) and the rest of America. I just find this as weird advertising. But maybe you big city folks are somewhat repulsed by the rest of us in normal-land.


I've also noticed in recent weeks that the country is broken into major media - which writes headlines & articles expressing the opinion that anyone supporting the right to bear arms is a lackey of the evil NRA - and the rest of us. Really, their opinions seem so disconnected from those of anyone I know (very few of whom are all that conservative) that I can't help wondering if they aren't sourcing their material from an alternate universe.

AJ from GA

It's...just a squirt gun. Are we really this oversensitive?

Enter your name...

Yes, we are. At least, in my circles, upper-middle-class mothers with university diplomas and zero family members in the military since WWII really are this oversensitive.


Oddly, the same demographic that thinks vaccinations are bad.


Looks like he's about to jump into a pool also. Probably lined with lead.


I have much dislike for trying to place artificial limits on children's interests, seems too much like over-protection, maybe bordering on brain-washing. I've known people who forbid anyone to talk about death around their kids, that just baffles me.

And it seems like it's a focus on minutiae -- while your busy keeping plastic guns away from from your boys (and they're busy using sticks and fingers instead), parents down the street are teaching their kids all their worst prejudices.


Water guns? The horror.

Give me a break.


It's a kid playing with a couple of squirt guns. Advertising a natural and healthy product. I understand that some have allergies to peanuts, but obviously their target market do not. Anyone having issues with this really needs to re-evaluate the battles worth fighting, because this isn't one of them... sigh...

MA Man

Sorry state of affairs that we find peanuts and waterguns "jarring", and they make us "squeamish"! I get that peanut allergies are terrible, and we want to teach our kids to resist violence... but seriously? Peanuts and water guns!! Last week I read a story about a grade-school boy suspended for chewing his cookie into the shape of a gun. It seems like we're heading toward censorship rather than actually teaching kids right from wrong!
What if we let them have their peanuts and waterguns but teach them to make good decisions in the video games and movies they watch!

Pawe? Gola

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.

Joe j

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.


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.

phil persinger


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?


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.


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.


Right. As I said above...there's city folks and there's the rest of the country. :)

brian warden

More people live in cities than not.


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.


...unless they're "organic".

Jon Dickenson

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.


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


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

Kirsten Nelson

I'm with you on the gun policy. Instead of forbidding them, we've had many discussions about gun safety. But peanut promotion on the other hand, that's a bit sticker. The severity of peanut allergies in kids can be quite scary--far more than a squirt gun.


I think it speaks volumes about the USA that an advert about peanuts could be jarring and borderline offensive?!

And a kid holding water guns? Really?

Completely speechless...


Maybe they've reasoned that the segment of the market which is squeamish over depictions of water guns overlaps heavily with the segment that already restricts their family's diet to only non allergenic, low calorie, sugar free, fat free, gluten free, local, organic, vegan foods and can be written off as a non customer under all circumstances.


Oh boy, so sorry you had to endure the graphic image of potential water-squirting and a shameless description of peanuts being eaten. Your whole day must have been ruined.

(Also, from across the ocean it very much looks like peanut butter jelly sandwiches are the crown jewel of American cuisine.)