News of the Week: Cooler Temps, Rotary Phones, and Mr. Peanut Is Now Old Enough to Drink

In the news for the week ending August 8, 2020, are cheap movies, candy corn, legal peanuts, see-through toilet stalls, and more.

Close up of a rotary phone
Littlewitz / Shutterstock

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Summer Is (Pretty Much) Over

Something exciting happened this week: I actually wore pants when I went to the supermarket.

I should probably explain.

After several weeks of hot, steamy, oh-my-God weather, I didn’t have to wear shorts this week. I wore jeans! It was only for one day, but it was thrilling nonetheless. This whole week has been cooler in my part of Massachusetts: less humid, a little more windy, temps in the mid-70s. One night I actually had to put the comforter on top of me. Sure, part of that was because I have a fan directed at me all night and a window open, but it felt great having to get up at 2 a.m. to cover myself. It was like fall had come early! Soon we’ll be putting the air conditioners away! Doing homework! Wearing flannel! Carving pumpkins!

Oh, who am I kidding? We’ll be back to 85 degrees by this weekend. It’s not even Labor Day yet so I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

Tonight We’re Gonna Party Like It’s 1920

AMC Theaters reopened more than 100 of their theaters yesterday. Others will open on August 27. To get customers back into the seats (if they even want to get back into the seats right now), ticket prices will be the same as they were in 1920, the year the AMC chain launched, which was 15 cents.

The first movies shown will be classic titles like Back to the Future and Grease. The new Christopher Nolan film Tenet, which was supposed to be a big summer blockbuster but was sidelined by the pandemic, will open on September 3.

Mr. Peanut Is Now 21, For Some Reason

It seems like only earlier this year that Mr. Peanut was born. Actually, it was earlier this year. If you remember the plot of the seemingly neverending Mr. Peanut saga, the Planters mascot (first seen in 1916, making him 104 years old, but let’s not even get into that right now) was killed saving actors Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh in a TV commercial. Of course, it was all a set up for the inevitable Super Bowl commercial where he would come back to life. He did indeed get reborn during his televised funeral, as a baby nut called … well, Baby Nut.

Got all that?

The internet pretty much hated Baby Nut (even as they embrace Baby Yoda), so now Planters has rapidly aged the mascot. This week he turned 21 and is old enough to drink. He’s now called Peanut Jr. In a statement to Business Insider, the company says that there is such a thing as “peanut years,” and that’s the reason Mr. Peanut is suddenly able to go to a bar.

I was going to say the whole thing is ridiculous, but then again, this is a world where a peanut can walk around and wears a top hat. I’m sure next year Planters will have a commercial that explains how he gets his monocle.

As If Candy Corn Wasn’t Already Disgusting …

I know that’s harsh, but I can’t stomach the stuff. It’s popular at Halloween, but it’s one of those foods that I can only eat a few of before I can’t stand it anymore (see also: malted milk balls). If you like the stuff, you might want to try out the new flavors, all based on Thanksgiving foods.

That’s right, in addition to regular candy corn, Brach’s has introduced six new flavors for the holidays: roasted turkey, green beans, stuffing, cranberry sauce, ginger glazed carrots, and sweet potato pie.

I guess you have to give them credit for going against the grain and not making a pumpkin spice flavor. Oh wait, they already tried that a few years ago. It’s no longer available.

Teens vs. a Rotary Phone

This isn’t from this week, but I saw it on Ken Levine’s blog this week and had to post it. Two teens try to figure out a rotary phone.

Sure, you can say there’s no reason a 17-year-old should know how to use a rotary phone, but I’m more concerned that they’ve apparently never seen a movie or TV show made before 1980.

Uploaded to YouTube by Kevin Bumstead

Headline of the Week

“Loo with a View: Transparent Public Toilets Installed in Tokyo Parks”

RIP Ben Cross, Billy Goldenberg, Duane Tatro, George Christy, Mary Hartline Donahue, and Peter Tytell

Ben Cross starred in the critically acclaimed 1981 drama Chariots of Fire. He also had roles in such movies as Star Trek, First Knight, A Bridge Too Far, and Turbulence, as well as TV shows like the 1991 Dark Shadows reboot, Banshee, The Citadel, and Pandora. He died Tuesday at the age of 72.

Billy Goldenberg wrote the theme songs for Rhoda and Kojak and did music for such shows as The Sixth Sense, Alias Smith and Jones, Harry O, Columbo, the Steven Spielberg TV movie Duel, and Kukla, Fran, and Ollie. He also did music for Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, Woody Allen’s Play It Again, Sam, and a million other films and TV shows. He died earlier this month at the age of 84.

Duane Tatro did music for such TV shows as The Love Boat, Dynasty, The Invaders, M*A*S*H, Barnaby Jones, Hotel, The Manhunter, and The F.B.I. He died Sunday at the age of 93.

George Christy was a columnist for The Hollywood Reporter for over a quarter century. He died last week at the age of 93.

Mary Hartline Donahue was one of the first big television stars. In 1949 she became the bandleader on the ABC show Super Circus. She hosted her own series, The Mary Hartline Show, at the same time. She later went on to host Princess Mary’s Magic Castle. She was also known for being the spokesperson for several products, including Canada Dry Ginger Ale, and appeared on boxes of Kellogg’s cereal and on the cover of many regional TV directories. She died last week at the age of 92.

Peter Tytell helped run the New York City typewriter shop started by his father Martin, profiled in the classic Ian Frazier article “Typewriter Man.” The Tytells sold and repaired typewriters for 66 years, including machines owned by Andy Rooney, Dorothy Parker, and David Brinkley. Peter Tytell was also an expert witness in several high-profile cases involving documents, including the 2004 controversy over supposed letters about George W. Bush’s National Guard Service and a later case involving ownership of Facebook. He died last week at the age of 74.

This Week in History

19th Amendment Ratified (August 18, 1920)

Tuesday marked the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote. President Trump pardoned Susan B. Anthony on the same day, erasing her 1872 arrest for voting illegally in Rochester, New York.

Hawaii Becomes 50th State (August 21, 1959)

Troy Brownfield has a great piece on how the Aloha State joined the other 49 in ’59.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Sunscreen (August 16, 1958)

Kurt Ard
August 16, 1958

If you’re a subscriber to the Post (which you should be!) you can zoom in on this cover and see all of the stuff the husband has brought with him to the beach. I’m still trying to figure out what all those bottles and containers are for.


With Mr. Peanut turning 21, you know I had to include recipes that include peanuts (what, did you think I was going to give you candy corn recipes?). Here are some things you can make with Mr. Peanut’s insides.

You can try Curtis Stone’s Shrimp with Chiles, Bell Peppers, and Peanuts, or how about these Candied Peanuts from David Lebovitz? AllRecipes has a recipe for Peanut Brittle, while Cookie + Kate has a Crunchy Thai Peanut and Quinoa Salad.

If you want to raise a toast to Mr. Peanut for his birthday, try this Peanut Cocktail from Que Rica Vida. Yes, it’s garnished with peanuts.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Indianapolis 500 (August 23)

The 104th race will be televised on NBC at 1 p.m. ET.

Republican National Convention (August 24-27)

Like last week’s Democratic National Convention, the GOP’s four-day event will mostly take place virtually (and on TV).

Featured image: Littlewitz / Shutterstock

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  1. Glad it’s been getting cooler as far apart in the U.S. as we’re respectively living. It’s still over 100 right now. I like your fall fantasy. Send those vibes my way. Can’t hurt. Heat and almost certainly more fires are coming, probably into December. Aren’t you jealous?

    AMC is reopening theaters with a 15 cents lure. Click on the link: it’s a high risk for catching C-19. NO thank you. Of course that will be an enticing bonus for America’s stupid, drunk college students that think it’s all a hoax, 170,000 + deaths later! Knock yourselves out “kids”. Employers are increasingly (and wisely) seeing college grads in a negative light. Thank goodness for Doordash/Uber/Lyft to help pay back ALL of those THOUSANDS of dollars!

    I’m seeing what’s being done to Mr. Peanut in a really negative light. If it ain’t broke, don’t “fix” it. The company can update him within the realm of not messing with him. The 2004 ‘Saturday Night’ ad is a classic example and is still fresh all these years later. The idea is to sell the product, not have the AD be a hindrance, ad guys. Since YOU can’t do it right anymore, I can!

    Not surprised these 17 year old boys couldn’t figure out how to use a traditional, normal landline that won’t drop calls or give you radiation. My grandmother taught me how to use this ‘staple’ phone at 2 1/2 in late 1959 along with phone etiquette. I do have to give these boys credit for really trying, AND being good sports about it. If only they’d seen ‘I Saw What You Did’ from 1965, Bob. The rotary phone was one of the key ‘stars’!

    Being a fan of the original ‘Dark Shadows’ experimental soap opera horror show since ’67, I was really looking forward to the ’91 series (also by Dan Curtis) that did NOT disappoint at all, other than NBC and the Gulf War ruining it in 2 months. Ben Cross had big shoes to fill as the all-important ‘Barnabas Collins’ character, and did it flawlessly! Barbara Steele as ‘Dr. Julia Hoffman’ as well.

    Curtis cleverly updated the original series for prime-time in an amazing way. It was slated to tun for 5 years, incorporating stars of the ’60s series into the ’90s version in new ways. along the way. I was shocked and saddened learning Cross died this week at 72. Too young. He was a classic and classy actor. On YouTube, check this specific link: Dark Shadows (1991)-NBC ephemera. NBC did a good job with this intriguing overview containing some key scenes. The disastrous Johnny Depp film of 2012 appropriately ruined HIS career. Jonathan Frid the original ‘Barnabas’ (SEP 11/30/68) died less than a month before that awful film opened. Yes!

    Thanks for the 1958 Kurt Ard cover, all bright and lit up! I’m looking forward to the Indy 500 this Sunday–for sure!! The RNC this coming week too. Regardless of what happens, the DNC proved that virtual is just as good as the old way. It gets down to business, deleting all of the noisy, unnecessary b.s. They should be this way from now on!!

    In closing, to all teachers, parents and students who are debating whether to go back to the classroom. Please be cautious. It’s too risky despite the precautions the schools have implemented. It only takes one thing to go wrong. Don’t let anyone pressure or bully you on this life and death matter.


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