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Notice the Peanut Shop where 'No Problemo' is today! (Spinner Publications)

Who Remembers…The Peanut Shoppe?


Welcome to the third installment of the “Who remembers…?” series. In the inaugural article we reminisced about Virginia Dare Soda and in the second we took a stroll by Sunbeam Bread. My intention with this series of articles is not just to invoke nostalgic memories for those of us who have been “there”, but to share with the newer generation positive things that made up our childhood. Of course, sharing the area’s history is a way to not let the good things that have happened in the area pass away to be forgotten forever.

More importantly is discussion and contribution from readers. Everyone has an anecdote to share that makes these articles special. The Virginia Dare article was read, shared, commented on and liked by thousands and the Sunbeam article was even more popular. There was a nice sense of community and it resonates with many of you folks out there. There is something about reminiscing that serves as a sort of therapy and relief from the stresses of the day. You sort of travel away in your head and leave the world behind even though for a few moments.

Just like Sunbeam Bread, Joe Jesus’ Peanut Shoppe evokes instant phantom aromas. For those of us who have…ahem, been around a while, the familiar scent of peanuts roasting was a fond one. Whether you were coming up Union Street, William Street or traveling along Purchase Street it was only a matter of time before conversation was halted or interrupted by that mouth watering inducing aroma. Who can smell it right now?

Joe Jesus was the fellow who brought the three Planter’s Peanut shops to New Bedford. He had three locations at one point, on 200 Maryland Street, 813 Purchase Street (now the No Problemo Taqueria) and across the street from the Bristol Building, which he also owned. The affable Mr. Jesus was commonly called Mr. Peanut and it was a common sight to see him handing out small bags of freshly, roasted gems to children getting dropped off by their school bus, inclement weather be damned. Immediate drooling would ensue and the tiny bag’s contents virtually inhaled in moments. There was something special about walking down the street with a great pal in tow, and chomping on Mr. Peanut’s freebies. It placed a stamp on one’s memory and regardless of how inane or mundane the topic of conversation was, you remembered it for months to come. “Hey remember when we were talking about who would win in a fight Spiderman or Superman and Mr. Peanut gave us a bag of peanuts?”

Joe Jesus
Joe Jesus – Proprietor of the Peanut Shoppes

Two years ago New Bedford Guide sent Edward C. Dugan to interview Mr. Peanut in a spotlight article. When asked about his early business success he quickly brought up his peanut shops:

“I bought the Bristol Building in 1978, and I owned a peanut shop. Everybody loved the peanut shop talked about it” says Joe. “We turned on the roasters at 10 a.m. The aroma was all over the street.The high school was at the top of the hill on County Street. The kids would come from school and they would catch the bus on Purchase Street at either Cherry’s or Merchant’s Bank. Both were close to the peanut shop. The “Peanut Man” would sometimes give peanuts to the kids. At Christmas time I would buy one pound tins. By the time all of the doctors, lawyers and businessmen had bought a tin for their secretaries, we would have sold thousands of them. Not just in New Bedford, but all over the area. At one time I had three shops, but it was too difficult to keep up with them all.”

Joe also admitted that he intentionally placed the roaster in the window and placed a fan underneath it that blew the aroma out a vent and into the streets. The last Peanut Shoppe was closed down almost 10 years ago, however bringing it up in casual conversation gets everyone to smile and stroll down memory lane. Do I have to ask? Who wouldn’t love to have Mr. Peanut back!??!

While digging through a number of photo resources I used every keyword possible. From Joe’s name and nickname to street names and variations of spelling on “Peanut Shop.” I checked the Whaling Museum’s Flickr and website database, Spinner’s online photo collection, Flickr in general, and Google image search. Alas, I did not come across a single photo of the shop during operation. So I took some liberty with the photos in this article, since people simply love old photos of the area. Having said that, I have always made it clear that there are many far more knowledgeable local historians in the area. I would much rather prefer a two way discussion that be an orator. So PLEASE, by all means, share your anecdotes and if you have an image of the Peanut Shoppe in operation we’ll place it at the header of the article and give full credit of course.

As usual with these old photos I would like to thank the always generous Whaling Museum and Spinner Publications for their use!

About Joe Silvia

When Joe isn't writing, he's coaching people to punch each other in the face. He enjoys ancient cultures, dead and living languages, cooking, benching 999#s, and saving the elderly, babies and puppies from burning buildings. While he enjoys long walks on the beach, he will not be your alarm clock, because he's no ding-a-ling.

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  1. My Husband and I were just talking about the Peanut Shoppe a couple of weeks ago while on vacation. There is a candy store in New Hampshire that we frequent while there for our yearly two weeks. They specialize in candy, but also sell cashews and other nuts. We wanted to purchase the cashews, but found that they are no longer roasted and warm but are now available in pre-wrapped plastic bags. That’s when we began fondly discussing the Peanut Shoppe, which we used to frequent years ago for the warm roasted cashews. I think it would be great if they re-opened. I’m sure they would do a great business. I also remember Virginia Dare soda as well as Sunbeam bread. It’s too bad these business’ are no longer. They are great memories of my childhood ( Virginia Dare by the case…you could mix any flavors you wanted). Sunbeam bread was always a favorite until they closed, and of course the aroma of the Peanut Shoppe downtown.

  2. Thanks for sharing Kelly! If someone with some capital was wise, he or she would open up a spot that sold Sunbeam, fresh nuts, and Virginia Dare and make a killing! 🙂

    • When I was a little girl we lived first near Ellen R. Hathaway on Union then in one of the whaling captain homes on Union Street. My mother and I would walk downtown and I would hold her hand walking up the wall. She would catch me as I jumped in her arms at the tall part of the wall. Star Store had a bakery downstairs, and the best almond paste puffs ever. My mother would talk to a sales lady while I sniffed my way down to the bakery. The bakery box tied close with string was a treat we would bring home for the other kids and dad. Our next stop was my very favorite place-Mr. Peanut…the smell of roasted nuts caught my attention from 1/2 block away, but what I really wanted was fudge and coconut bon bons…not the pink ones…nope. It had to be the bon bons coated in either chocolate or vanilla…always wanted to take the building with me as an adult so no one could ever tear it down. The wood must be saturated with the scent of roasted peanuts.

    • Try looking for Christmas in New Bedford. There is one in front of the store. Not sure how much of the shop can be seen.

  3. Could you do Hillman Street for your next installment?

  4. Sure thing Julie! I’m in the process of doing Hetty Green. I’ll make Hillman Street the next article I do. Thanks for the suggestion.

    • Great! I look forward to reading these, you do a great job. I really enjoyed the Hetty Green article today!

    • Hey Joe,

      You are doing an amazing job bringing back these memories to us. Will you be doing any articles on the Knowlton School. I spent my summer nights playing baseball and listening to our 45’s on a battery operated portable record player. Yes I did say 45’s. Nothing can touch the sound of records. Keep up the good work. I was reading about your bio and discovered that you actually lived up the street from me on Clark St. I lived at 78 Clark on the 3rd floor till I got married in 1974. Thanks again for the memories and keep it up. A Lincoln Park piece would be great as well.

    • If you are doing a post on Hetty Green (The witch of Wall Street), there is a good book on her and her son, Colonel Green (The Day They Shook the Plum Tree). I worked at Cushing’s in my high school and college days at the corner of Pleasant and Union. Do you remember that store. It was around for many years.

  5. I used to walk down the hill after high school to catch a bus and always stopped in the peanut shop to get a small bag of broken cashew pieces. The smell in that place was amazing!! Thanks for the memories!!

  6. I used to work around the corner at Ray’s Restaurant (as a waitress for $2.01 per hour plus tips. …i was 16..it was $ for 45’s at Cove Discount Center.or Saltmarsh’s…).I’d frequently go in to the Peanut Store not for peanuts but for pumpkin seeds with the white coating….I started my work days downtown after Ray’s restaurant I worked at Star Store…miss those days! 🙂

  7. I can still smell that wonderful aroma as well.I worked at Merchants National Bank across the street in 60s-70s. Bought fresh peanuts weekly!

  8. I remember going in there in my teens just to get warm & take in the aroma!! We would also get these small bags of what kind of nut you wanted that day. I remember the roaster also! My Dad Loved the cashews so also tried to bring him home a small bag!

  9. Loved the peanut shop! Attended the Mass. Institute of Hair and Beauty Culture upstairs, too!

  10. Kathryn Brie Poyant

    I loved the downtown peanut shop hot roasted cashews a coconut peanut squares were my mom and I favorites! I wish it didn’t close. Those were the good old days!!

  11. we went to star store for back-to-school shoes….then to the Peanut Shop for a bag of whatever we wanted. Pistachios for me….and my fingers would be stained red for the rest of the day. Kids of today don’t have things like this, poor things. Technology has ruined our world. Its negatives far outweigh its positives.

  12. Anne (Danzell) Miller

    Remember Mr Peanut out in front of the peanut store but this was way back in the 40’sand 50’s. must have been another peanut man.

  13. Bought peanuts there many times after school at NBHS. Also, my mom worked in the toy department at Saltmarsh’s. She started working there when it was Huchinson’s and was located on Union St.

  14. I went there many times early on and when we moved to Arizona for a few years, my only connection was going to a hot air balloon race and getting to see the Mr. Peanut Balloon, it was my favorite 🙂 Just the mention of this shop brings back such great memories just like many of the articles you post 🙂

  15. Bought my pumpkin seeds there….To the right was Dottie (R.i.p.) at Victory Sportswear,…a few stores to the right was Saltmarsh’s…..where I bought my 45’s…Across was Cherry & Webb where i got my ears pierced at 10 years old….The corner over was Kresge’s…best trinkets….great burgers at the snack.bar! Up William St. was Geno’s Hairstylist, upstairs was Torman’s Driving School where i went to classes in the sumner in that sweltering room, last but not least..Ray’s Restaurant…my first job,,..always in the window were scones, the best little meat pies and TRIPE ….never tried that…lol…still.wish i was back there now…p.s. there was a Scrimshaw shop next door, which ended up as a pewter shop….hope my great memories help! 🙂

  16. Would love to see Water Street ( now route 18) & neighboring South First Street !!!!

  17. Grew up on South Front St., Shopped with my mother on Water St. I would love to see pictures of the old Water Street stores.

  18. jonathan greenberg

    who remembers new Bedford wallpaper

  19. it would be so cool if that big ass neon mr peanut sign was still around

  20. I grew up in New Bedford. Ash street. I remember as a young girl kresgees. Saltmarshes whaling museum Cherry and web. I would get a dollar a week allowance and many times used it to buy warm roasted broken cashew pieces from the peanut store. Or save 2$ to see a movie at the zeiterian. Many many times I would buy my dad the cashews for gifts. He loved them too. The Peanut Shop! Great memory. Thank you!

  21. I grew up in Dartmouth in the 1950s, 60s are recall the shop very well. To this day I can recall the smell as you walked by and when you entered the aroma overcame your senses!

  22. Nearly every trip back to NB includes a drive down Water St to the South End. Its impossible to understand why so little has filled the empty lots along Water St. Its also amazing that the old Orpheum Theater still stands as a derelict hulk. We saw many scary movies there.

    My Grandpa used to run the Clearoc soda company on Kempton St, back before Urban Renewal destroyed so much in that area.

  23. Actually, that was a Planters’ Peanut Shop that often had an employee outside, in a Mr. Peanut costume, handing out samples. Cherry and Webb was directly across Purchase Street and a 5and 10-cent story diagonally across the stree (either Kresge’s or Woolworth) with the other being two stores north in the same block.

    • There was also a local traffic cop who stood n the center of the intersection wearing white gloves and a white hat and put on one of the best shows I’ve ever seen of a guy just controlling traffic flow. Never knew his name but he was proud of his job and maintained exquisite control of cars at that intersection. Every day of his life he risked being struck by a car but, to my knowledge, no vehicle ever came close.

  24. Urban renewal – Ha! If I remember correctly (I could easily be wrong after all these years), Mayor Frank Lawler went to jail following that fiasco. Corruption, if I recall correctly. The city never recovered from his urban renewal efforts.

  25. I loved the Peanut Store. It definitely is a great memory. I had to wait for the bus home after school at Cherry and Webb. That wait nearly always included a trip over to Mr. Peanut for a small bag of peanuts. Sometimes it was peanuts in the shell, other times Spanish peanuts or shelled peanuts. It was such a disappointment to have run out of money toward the end of the week! And it would be fantastic to see another Mr. Peanut walking around downtown and being able to smell that wonderful aroma!

  26. Love all your articles. Brings back so many memories. I do have to ask if you or any of your readers can tell me what building stood at the bottom of kempton st. Where it met purchase st. On the right side before urban renewal came through? I grew up on KEmpton st. But can’t remember. I believe it was a red bldg. Thanks.

  27. Stopped at Mr. Peanut after high school and eat the peanuts on the bus on my way home.

  28. was in Hershey ,Pa 2 years ago and they still sell Sunbeam Bread in there stores,and still no holes lol

  29. The Peanut Shop was a treat. Do remember stopping in occasionally for a bag after school at HFHS.

    Urban renewal was such a disaster for NB. We lived in the South End and had fond memories going there to shop. It was gradually closing up and getting pretty crime ridden in the late 60’s… I think the crooked mayor was mentioned by Mr Moniz was Ed Harrington.

    I still go back to the old neighborhood and remember the city when it was a great place to grow up. It tragically has never made a recovery.

  30. I am wondering if you could find a picture of the Peanut Man ! Maybe someone has one? A great memory….

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