I Love {Coke & Peanuts}

Over the weekend I had the great pleasure of introducing John to one of the deep South’s most quintessential snacks: Coke & peanuts.  It’s almost a rite of passage down here to sit on a porch, in a pick-up or even at the filling station and savor this salty sweet goodness.  I had picked up a few tall glass bottle Cokes for the holiday and, when we found ourselves sitting on the porch on a steamy afternoon, I knew it was high time my near ten-ager had his first one.  Needless to say, he was smitten.

For the sake of this blog post and since I figure y’all north of the Mason-Dixon are scratching your heads right about now, I tried to find some history on this long standing tradition.  Come to find out, a Coca-Cola historian tried to answer the very same question two years back.  His research leads him to believe that the combo “was likely born of country store commerce. Think of Coke and peanuts as a prototype fast-food for the 20th century South.”  It seems the first package of peanuts may have been poured into a glass bottle of Coke as early as the 1920s as packaged, already shelled peanuts from Planters, Lance and Tom’s began showing up at country stores and gas stations where the familiar contour bottle of Coke was already being sold.  It seems this snack was really quite functional, with working people who may not have had a place to wash up pouring the peanuts directly in the bottle to keep clean.  Other theories are that  combining the two made it easier to drive a stick shift on the back roads of Central Georgia (exactly how I learned to drive), or that the tradition began in order to leave one hand free to smoke.

No matter how or why, I am sure am glad someone thought up this so-Southern treat many moons ago.   There’s nothing more Southern, or more American, than spending a summer afternoon sipping on an ice-cold Coca-Cola filled with salty peanuts.  Nothing.


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27 thoughts on “I Love {Coke & Peanuts}

  1. Okay. Stop right there. I just about came out of my seat when I opened this! I am half crazy to finally know what this means!!! From Barbara Mandrell singing about it in the seventies to asking my mom, I never really quite understood what the heck was going on with a little peanut in a Coke. When I used to ask my mom, she would simply say, "Oh, it was just something we did" but her answer left me wondering if there was more to the story. Thank you, Miss Amanda! Maybe Mom sent you a message from above to deliver to little ole me! And now to find out it's not just one single peanut but the whole darn bag, well, glory be! I'm not kidding, you have solved a mystery! (And with perfect photos, no less!) Much love, Jane ~ San Diego

  2. Do you know I have NEVER done this? Isn't that insane? I've lived in Georgia since I was two (and was really a Georgian before then since my parents were born and raised in teensy little Ashburn, Georgia). I've lived in South Georgia my whole life that I can remember and alas…never tried it. I do love the two separately so I can't imagine I wouldn't enjoy it!

  3. Umm, where to begin (from MA). When first seeing this I naively thought you poured the salted delights in to John's hand and he would sip and snack. NOT SO! Doesn't anyone ever choke on this? Just don't get it but guess I might have to try before judging.

  4. This brought back a flood of memories. I think it probably was born in a country story. Peanuts are hard to hold on to while driving or riding and that salty, sweet taste is really good.
    Just wondered if you checked out free passes to national parks this year for rising 4th graders and their families??
    DiAnne in NC

  5. If only they were the small pack of Lance's peanuts and the coke was the small version, I would be right back in my childhood. One year for our Dirty Santa exchange I purchases a six pack of the small cokes and added a multipack of Lance peanuts. Believe me, it was quite popular with our Baby Boomer crowd.

  6. PS Your Instagram photo colors and subjects are lined up beyond perfection right now!!!
    It's the little things. ha ha ;-)
    Jane ~ San Diego

  7. Oh yes, a flash from the past! My dad grew up on a peanut farm so our family knows how to do peanuts in a thousand ways, and one of those definitely is to pour them into a bottle of Co-cola!!!

  8. Wow! I am a South Georgia girl, born and bred and I have never heard of this! I must have been living under a rock. I must try this asap.

  9. Yep, I had forgotten about this delicacy! I remember having a coke and peanuts when I worked for my grandfather at his feed mill. Farmers and others would partake while they were waiting for their grain to be crushed or making other farm purchases. I just may have a coke and peanuts tomorrow! Protein and Carbs, a good quick pick me up! Ha! Sheila

  10. Love it!! I remember my 2nd grade teacher ate it everyday at our break time and my mother and daddy eating it that way too. It is quite yummy!

  11. Like Arlene, this post brought back a flood of memories. My dad owned a dry cleaners and whenever I would be there I would get a small glass bottle of cocola out of his machine and then go to the glass jars on the side counter and get a little bad of peanuts and do just what you described. In fact, every time I went to his cleaners I would have a coke. The machine was right by the door and it was always the first thing I did when I arrived. Even when I was in college. Of course I never paid the dime for them! To this day, walking into a real dry cleaners (one that actually cleans clothes on site) makes me tear up…..the distinct dry cleaner odors of the solvent and the steam from the pressers brings back all the old memories. I am probably the only person in the world who does that!
    Love, Marme

  12. Love it… A definite treat. One of my college friends from South GA gave glass bottle cokes & a bag of peanuts in the gift bags for her wedding guests! ;)

  13. I am so confused. So many questions….. Don't people choke on this? So you pour in the peanuts, then what? Do you just drink the pop and try not to choke on any peanuts that get through, or do you hope to get some peanuts while you are drinking the pop?? When you drink all of the pop, is the bottom of the bottle filled with (wet) peanuts? And then what do you do with them? Sorry…… I had heard of this years ago, and have had these questions all that time!!!!!! :-)

  14. Having grown up in a small town in Illinois, we would put sugary Lemondrop candy in a Coke. Only when I moved to Charleston, SC, did I ever hear about peanuts in Coke. I love being introduced to local ways of eating! Have a great week!

  15. Thanks to you Amanda, I had my first Coke & peanuts today, loved it!! I'm so happy you posted this, you always have the best ideas :-)

  16. This brings back so many memories of growing up in Eastern NC and sitting on the front porch swing with my Granddaddy drinking Cokes and eating peanuts. Of course he always said that he had to be the small bottled Coke because they had a better "burp" in them. To this day I can't see a small bottle of Coke and not think of him. Thanks for posting this.

  17. Your blog is always a walk down memory lane of my homeplace. My late father and I used to have coke and peanuts (in a glass bottle) and it is one of my sweetest memories of him. Sad, have a Coke. Happy, have a Coke. I teared up reading this. Of all the things I love about you the most from your blog, the fact that you work for Coke takes the cake!

  18. I love the Coke talk! My grandfather worked for Coke for 50 years. Nothing like a Coke and a smile!

  19. I had to chuckle at this post as I was perplexed about this snack for quite awhile. Being a long time fan of Carolyn Hart's Death on Demand Bookstore mysteries, I was familiar with a recurring character (a newspaper reporter) who is often depicted eating the Coke and peanuts combo yet had no idea this was a classic Southern tradition. Thanks for the explanation. I felt like I was right there on the porch enjoying the yummy sweet/salty treat with you!

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