Beer nuts is a generic
term as well as a brand name
and a product
. The term refers to the (usually free) nuts you can find on bars, taverns, and pubs to be consumed with beer. The product BEER NUTS is a redskinned peanut
, shelled but not skinned, coated in a dark red glaze and salted.
The brand BEER NUTS Snacks started in 1937 when Arlo and Edward G. Shirk purchased the Caramel Crisp Shop in Bloomington, Illinois. The popular “redskinned” peanut was sold from the shop by the scoop, and they were given out as samples along with other store favorites. In the 1950s, the Shirks packaged the peanuts for Bloomington liquor stores under “Shirk's Glazed Peanuts” and eventually hooked up with a snack distributor to send the peanuts out to local bars. The product was then officially named BEER NUTS Peanuts and the recognizable red and white oval logo was applied.
BEER NUTS continues to be made in Bloomington. The nuts are glazed in a process that no one knows the secret for and they are marketed and sold all over the US. The company now produces a product called CrunchNuts and they have expanded their nut selection to cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, pecans, and of course… mixed nuts. The biggest market continues to be the East Coast of the United States, which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the most alcohol is also consumed there.
Not wanting to be crushed by the Planters Corporation and Mr. Peanut himself, the BEER NUTS company has not made giant moves to make their product worldwide. Using selective endorsement of fisherman, motorcyclists and softball players (the notorious beer drinking communities) BEER NUTS has relied on a lot of culture and word of mouth to sell their product. Having a generic brand name, such as “Band-Aid” has also helped their sales. Still a family owned operation, the peanuts contiune to go through a final inspection by human hand. And their logo has not changed since the beginning.
BEER NUTS peanuts are thought to go best with ales, lagers and light beers. There should always be caution involved when consuming beer nuts; they can disappear in large quantities when accompanied by a beer or two or ten. And even (unbelievably) just as a snack without the beer.
Also, the most famous of beer nuts can be seen on the show Cheers, as Norm and Cliff were always referred to affectionately as “BEER NUTS”.