When Danny Holton stumbled across the Wienermobile three years ago at a fair in Phoenix, the Los Altos native never imagined that a few years later he’d be traveling the United States in its sister vehicle, the 26-foot-long NUTmobile representing the Planters Peanuts brand.
Holton’s job of being what the company calls a “Peanutter” involves working with his team to plan and execute all the events the NUTmobile attends in cities across the country – including next week in the Bay Area. In addition, Holton said he helps with Planters’ national marketing strategy, crafting it to fit local markets.
Oh, and he also gets to drive the NUTmobile, which is no easy task.
“It takes a couple of weeks to get good at driving it, but what you’re not used to is all the people honking at you,” the Mountain View High School graduate said, “and it’s not because you’re doing something wrong – it’s actually just because they’re saying hello. It was super funny, because at the beginning, you’re thinking, ‘Did I cut someone off?’ But it’s nothing to do with that – it’s people thinking, ‘Hey, look, it’s the NUTmobile!’”
It turns out life as a Peanutter comes with notoriety.
“People will pull over and take photos of us,” Holton said. “We’ve even had people follow us back to our hotel just to get a photo.”
While the team still gets to cherish such interactions with the public, the job has changed quite a bit due to the pandemic.
“In past years we’d be doing huge events like sporting events, fairs, festivals, concerts, but this year has been really different,” Holton said. “We’ve had to adjust and take a grassroots approach. ... Every city we try and do at least one visit where we’re delivering meals to people, or we’ll hop in a food bank. ... We want to spend our time going to see people behind the scenes because we have that opportunity.”
The Peanutters have traveled across the country and interacted with a wide variety of people from different backgrounds, even helping out in crisis.
“Not many people get to have a job where your sole goal is to spread positivity and make people smile, and I’ve just seen so many people beaten down from COVID,” Holton said. “In Houston, during the storms, there was a lady during our drive-by in town who was in tears. She said it was the best thing that happened to them all year, and they took pictures and we gave them a special little present. That really sticks out to me because our job is to lift people up, to make people happy, and especially in a year like this, that’s truly been the highlight.”
Next stop: The Bay Area
The NUTmobile is scheduled to visit the Bay Area next week. It will be in downtown Los Altos, at 169 State Street, 4-8 p.m. April 30.
“We’d love for people to come out, because it’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the NUTmobile – there are only three of them in the world,” Holton said. “They’ll get to meet (the costumed mascot) Mr. Peanut, who’s actually 106 years old now. I really wanted to bring it back to all the people who impacted me and all the awesome people in the Bay Area. It’s an opportunity to see the iconic NUTmobile, get to sample peanuts and meet Mr. Peanut himself.”
For more information on the NUTmobile and its travel schedule, visit planters.com/mr-peanut/nutmobile.