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Peanuts originally came from the warmer regions of South America and were very highly regarded by pre-Inca lords who wore pure gold peanut-shaped adornments. At an early time peanuts were introduced by the Spanish and Portuguese into the Old World, Africa, India ,China and the American South.
Peanuts are not true nuts but legumes which have the peculiar habit of ripening underground where the fruits appear to function as roots absorbing mineral nutrients directly from the soil. They are a concentrated food with more vitamins, proteins and minerals than beef liver!
After the American Civil War, the boll weevil destroyed entire cotton plantations in the South, and farmers were urged to grow peanuts instead.
They were an instant success. A physician from St. Louis then created "An extremely nutritious ground-up peanut paste". Not that he invented peanut butter (people in different parts of the world had been grinding peanuts for a long time), but it was probably the first peanut butter as we know it today.
Thai, Indian, Chinese and Latin American cuisines (to name a few) use peanuts whole, chopped, ground, roasted and unroasted in hundreds of spicy dishes and sauces. Mixed with candy or chocolate they are irresistible.
Who doesn't have tender childhood memories of roasted peanuts at the ball park, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the lunchbox, peanut brittle, and if you grew up in the South those little newspaper cones filled with boiled peanuts?