Discovering Virginia Peanuts
Although extremely popular in the United States today, Virginia Peanuts aren't native to the country. Instead, experts suggest that the original peanut plant came from somewhere in South America, likely Peru or Brazil. After the first find, the road the peanut took to get to America was an interesting one.
Dating the Original Peanuts
There is no fossil evidence that proves exactly when or where the first peanut plant sprouted up. However, there is proof in the form of pottery shaped like peanuts that suggests people were aware of the peanut dating back over 3,500 years ago.
The Incans of Peru utilized peanuts as sacrificial offerings and incorporated them when mummifying their lost loved ones. The idea was to help the dead through their afterlife. Drinks were made up of a blend of maize and peanuts as well by tribes from central Brazil.
Who Discovered Peanuts in Brazil
Explorers from Europe are said to have first discovered peanuts in South America. Then, as the Spaniards started their trek of the new world, they found peanuts were grown up as far north as Mexico.
The Europeans gathered the legumes and took them back to Spain with them. There, traders were excited about the commodities, and soon they were being traded to Africa and Asia.
Peanuts Make it Back to the United States
While peanuts were originally closer, being found right near the Southern border, they didn't make it back to the United States until the 1700s when Africans brought them over.
A Commercial Peanut Crop is Born
In the 1800s, peanuts were finally grown as a commercial crop in the US. Soon, the popularity grew because PT Barnum's vendors distributed warm roasted peanuts nationwide on wagons.
And that's how we have Virginia Peanuts today! People all over the country enjoy the original South American discovery in their everyday diets in forms like peanut butter, oil, candy, and various peanut gifts.