Sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you drive around the country in a car shaped like a nut. At least that’s the case if you’re part of the Planters Peanutter team. Dylan Eike, a 2011 graduate of East Ridge High School, is learning exactly what it means to be a Peanutter.
After high school, Eike received a degree in communications from the University of Missouri. As he was searching for the next step, he came across the Planters Peanutter program. Although the name, and the idea of driving around the country in a vehicle shaped like a peanut, sounds like a bit of a laugh, the Peanutter program is actually a competitive and prestigious program for recent college graduates.
“When I first told my parents about the program, they said, ‘You’re going to an info session on what?’” Eike says. “Once they did some research and found out how prestigious the program is, they were excited about it.”
The year-long job means traveling the country, spreading the word about Planters (as well as plenty of nut puns). Similar to the Oscar Mayer program, where folks drive around in the Wienermobile, Peanutters drive around the country in the Nutmobile, stopping at events and grocery stores to promote the Planters brand. The Peanutters work in teams of three in different regions around the United States. Eike works in the central region, which has brought him from Michigan to Tennessee and everywhere in between. “I get to travel the country and see so many different things,” Eike says. “It’s just surreal that I get paid for it.”
The program is a crash course in public relations and marketing, fields Eike has interest in pursuing (he’s especially interested in television media). Last year he worked on KSTP-TV’s Twin Cities Live, and some of his favorite experiences as a Peanutter have been stops at local television and radio stations.
It should come as no surprise that Eike has taken to performing. It’s a passion of his that began in middle and high school, where he participated in theater productions such as East Ridge High School’s Seussical, in which he starred as the Cat in the Hat. He says that prior to getting involved in theater he was shy, but getting into the performing arts got him to come out of his shell (which, of course, serves him well as a Peanutter).
Theater helped him develop a more outgoing personality, as East Ridge theater director Amanda Hestwood saw first-hand. “Dylan has such natural charisma and likability,” Hestwood says. “People are drawn to his energy and positive outlook in a way that is truly unique.”
Hestwood says marketing is a great role for Eike, and can see why he’s flourishing with Planters. He even gets to put some of his performing experience to good use. At each stop, someone in the group dresses up as Mr. Peanut (they take turns donning the suit) and “gets to dance around and act like a fool,” Eike says.
“Everyone loves Mr. Peanut,” Eike says. “We’ll have 60-year-old ladies who will run up and give you a hug.”
History of Mr. Peanut
Mr. Peanut was born in 1916, 10 years after Planters was founded. He has remained mostly unchanged through the years, with his signature top hat, monocle and cane. His popularity grew as the years went by, and he is now one of the most beloved food mascots around. 2016 will be a big year for Planters, as Mr. Peanut celebrates his 100th birthday.