Revisiting 42: stalked by a giant anthropomorphic squirrel

When we last saw Mr. Peanut (in my 1/13/20 posting “Just one peanut”), he was tortured by nightmares of being buried alive by an anthropomorphic squirrel:


That squirrel has now come alive in a giant toothy form and is stalking the Mr. Peanut of the Apocalypse on the city streets, in this David Sipress cartoon (from the February 3rd New Yorker):


Entertaining. But much funnier when you know that the cartoon is exquisitely topical: Mr. Peanut has in fact just met his death (though not as the prey of a giant squirrel), and will be mourned at the Super Bowl tomorrow.

The death of Mr. Peanut. From the CNN site, “Mr. Peanut is dead for some reason” by AJ Willingham on 1/23/20:

Mr. Peanut, the 104-year old mascot of the Planters snack food company, has died after sacrificing himself in what appears to be a traumatic road accident.

Sounds like the perfect setup for a Super Bowl commercial!

Planters made the announcement in a series of tweets and news releases Wednesday. “In the ultimate selfless act, he sacrificed himself to save his friends when they needed him most,” the announcement read.

And lest you think Planters would turn their mascot into a wad of chunky peanut butter for no reason, the company confirmed his death has something to do with a commercial that will run during the Super Bowl on February 2.

In a preview of the ad, Mr. Peanut appears to save actors Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh after the Nutmobile veers off a cliff. Mr. Peanut lets go of a branch to save his friends from plummeting to their deaths.

(#3) (photo courtesy of Kraft Heinz)

There will no doubt be some clever commercial plot twist to come: Mr. Peanut will be reincarnated in a new improved form, a fresh hot-roasted mascot will turn up to replace him, whatever.

Mr. Peanut as the Herald of the End Times. From NOAD:

noun apocalypse: 1 [a] (often the Apocalypse) the complete final destruction of the world, as described in the biblical book of Revelation. [b] (the Apocalypse) (especially in the Vulgate Bible) the book of Revelation. 2 an event involving destruction or damage on an awesome or catastrophic scale: a stock market apocalypse | an era of ecological apocalypse. ORIGIN Old English, via Old French and ecclesiastical Latin from Greek apokalupsis, from apokaluptein ‘uncover, reveal’, from apo- ‘un’ + kaluptein ‘to cover’.

In the cartoon meme, the herald is archetypically a disheleved, bearded man in robe and sandals, bearing a picket-style sign announcing THE END IS NEAR (or NIGH). The meme is prolific, and some cartoonists — Sipress is one — have returned to it again and again. Here are two earlier examples from him:

(#4) New Yorker 11/21/11

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”
(#5) New Yorker afternoon cartoon 11/4/16

And one from Roz Chast, with dueling signs:

(#6) New Yorker 5/19/97

Mr. Peanut. The herald of the End Times. And finally…

The giant squirrel. We can but hope that the squirrel in #2 is not just any giant squirrel, but the Indian giant squirrel that some websites describe as looking like a Dr. Seuss concoction. From Wikipedia, the rainbow squirrel:

The Indian giant squirrel, or Malabar giant squirrel (Ratufa indica) is a large tree squirrel species in the genus Ratufa native to forests and woodlands in India. It is a diurnal, arboreal, and mainly herbivorous squirrel.


… The Indian giant squirrel is one of the largest squirrels with a head–and–body length of 25–50 cm (10 in–1 ft 8 in), a tail that is about the same or somewhat longer, and a weight of 1.5–2 kg (3.3–4.4 lb), although rarely up to 3 kg (6.6 lb) [so: the size of a large cat or a small dog, with an enormously long tail].

… It has a conspicuous one-, two- or three-toned colour scheme. The colours involved can be whitish, creamy-beige, buff, tan, rust, reddish-maroon, brown, a dark seal brown or black. The underparts and the front legs are usually cream coloured, the head can be brown or beige, however there is a distinctive white spot between the ears.

But, whoa, since Mr. Peanut is of roughly human height, the squirrel in #2 would be the size of a St. Bernard. And maybe in technicolor. Look at those teeth, designed to shatter nuts. Nightmare eeks (see #1).

3 Responses to “Revisiting 42: stalked by a giant anthropomorphic squirrel”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    The Wikipedia entry for the Malabar giant squirrel provides a nice bit of found poetry, a line of dactylic tetrameter:

    diurnal, arboreal, and mainly herbivorous

  2. Robert Coren Says:

    On my screen, at least, the giant squirrel depicted in #7 appears to be largely blue, which is not one of the colors listed in the Wikipedia entry.

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