were known as early as 950 B.C. It is believed that they originated in Brazil
or Peru and were carried to Africa by early explorers and missionaries. From there
traders took them to Spain and "The New World." Colonial traders used
the peanuts as food aboard ship as they were cheap and of high food value. The
first commercial peanut crop in Virginia was grown in Sussex County (near what
is now Waverly) in the early to mid 1840's.
The Peanut's Journey to Virginia
For a long time peanuts were considered simple fare. The war between the states
helped change the peanut status when Union Army soldiers found them to their liking
and took them home. The call, "Hot Roasted Peanuts," was first heard
in the late 1800's at P.T. Barnum's circus. Desire for peanuts spread as circus
wagons traveled across the country.
The peanut was not a significant agricultural crop until the early 1900's when
the boll weevil destroyed the South's cotton crop. Today peanuts are a multimillion
dollar industry in Virginia and an important crop in the Southeastern United States.
Average Peanut Production
250 to 350 million pounds produced annually
3,000 pounds per acre average production
Produce some 6 to 8% of the nation's peanuts annually