What’s in a name? A whole lot according to Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz — he was not initially enamored with the name Peanuts, and actually had a completely different one in mind. So today, on this very special 65th anniversary of the beloved Peanuts comic strip (it first appeared on October 2, 1950), we are here to tell you the story of that famous name and how it came to be… and the title the comic series almost had.
Long before Schulz started publishing Peanuts, he worked as an art teacher at a Minneapolis art school, all the while publishing his comics on the side. Like many artists, he was rejected a number of times before his work was picked up and, as we know, eventually embraced.
When he did sell his first cartoon to the Saturday Night Press in 1948 it was a decent gig, but not a consistent one. Shortly after, he began working on L’il Folks. L’il Folks was the precursor to Peanuts, and featured the beginnings of the characters that would one day become household names.
When the St. Paul Press ran L’il Folks, the editor did not prioritize them and would just barely fit them in, and Schulz began looking for a paper that would better value his series. Finally, in 1950, United Feature Syndicate accepted Schulz’s Li’l Folks, but there was a catch. The press wanted to change the name.
Li’l Folks was much too close to a number of other comics published in the years prior — like Al Cap’s Li’l Abner and Tack Knight’s Little Folks — I would say they had a point. Schulz was resistent. According to this New York Times article, Schulz claimed in a 1965 interview, “I wanted to keep Li’l Folks. I wanted a strip with dignity and significance. ‘Peanuts’ made it sound too insignificant.”
Although the name bothered Schulz for a number of years after the initial publication of the comic, which ran in seven U.S. newspapers by the way, he invested the rest of his career into those characters we love so much today. I think it’s safe to say that Peanuts are pretty significant after all! Check out the first comic ever published:
As Charlie Brown once said, “In life, it’s not about where you go, but who you travel with.” We’re glad we’ve had the Peanuts gang to keep us company all these years.
(Images via Instagram/Wikimedia Commons/Charles M Schulz)