Three peanuts meet in a bar

Today’s Wayno / Piraro Bizarro, requiring a boatload of popcultural knowledge to understand:

(#1) The easy part: these are three anthropomorphic peanuts, M, M, F from left to right, and they are sitting at a bar, with drinks in front of them (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.)

Somehow the meeting of these three exemplifies the N1 + N2 compound N wingnut / wing-nut / wing nut (which has 4 senses in NOAD, plus a bunch more you can imagine). But how?

You should also be able to identify M1 (through his top hat and monocle) as the commercial mascot Mr. Peanut. He’s one classy guy, and in line with that, he’s drinking an elegant traditional martini (with olive) in a cocktail glass.

M2 is clearly marked as male (hair, goatee, shirt and tie), looking amiable but nerdish, and drinking whisk(e)y of some type, in an Old Fashioned glass / rocks glass / whiskey tumbler: a man’s-man drink. He’s talking to F.

F is clearly marked as female (hair, lips, string of pearls), looking a bit dubious at M2’s approach, and drinking a glass of white wine: a lady’s drink.

We are meant to understand this situation as a complex variant of the hopeful hookup scene — Guy Cruises Girl For Sex (or, more aggressively, Guy Hits On Girl For Sex) — with an intermediary guy negotiating with the girl on behalf of the cruising guy. Here you need to know that in modern American culture, the intermediary guy in such a scene is known as a wingman.

Yes, M2’s a wingman peanut, which portmanteaus to wingnut.

Aha, there we have the title — though there’s no evidence in the cartoon that M2 is in fact a wingnut, in any sense I can dredge up. So this part of the joke seems to be entirely verbal — ooh, wingnut! new meaning! cool! — and not conceptual or visual.

Now for some details. Starting with the portmanteau and going on with Mr. Peanut and wingmen.

wingnutNOAD on the compound noun wing nut (3a is the sense we’re interested in here):

1 (also wingnut) a [hardware] nut with a pair of projections for the fingers to screw it on. 2 an Asian tree of the walnut family, with a deeply fissured trunk, compound leaves, and characteristic broad-winged nutlets. Genus Pterocarya, family Juglandaceae. 3 (wingnut) US informal [a] a mad or crazy person [AZ: that is, a nutcase]: some wingnut down in Finance. [b] a person with extreme, typically right-wing, views: McCarthyite wingnuts.

The nut here is nut ‘crazy person’; the wing is not so clear, but possibly a reference to being in the wings — on the side, the edges, or sidelines, so metaphorically out of the ordinary.

Salon’s “Ask a Wingnut” column (“a conservative answers your questions about why his people do what they do”) by Glenallen Walker comes with an entertaining logo that manages to combine senses 1 and 3b:


As for the history of our sense, NOAD‘s 3a, GDoS has wingnut ‘an eccentric, a fool’ with a 1st cite in 1986: Joseph Wambaugh, Secrets of Harry Bright: He’d been called Wingnut since Grammar school.

There are any number of other possible interpretations for wingnut, beyond NOAD’s 4: for example, ‘a crazy person with [the bodyparts] wings’; some involving metaphorical wings ‘big ears, person with big ears’ or  metonymical wings ‘a pilot’s certificate of ability to fly a plane’; and a number involving the snowclonelet nut, with nut in NOAD‘s sense 3b of that noun:

[with adjective or noun modifier] a person who is excessively interested in or enthusiastic about a specified thing: a football nut.

So: wing nut ‘someone excessively interested in wings, a nut for wings’ (wings of birds, planes, etc.; fried chicken wings; flying; pilots; etc.).

Mr. Peanut. From my 1/13/20 posting “Just one peanut”, with a section on the character:

(#3) The classic Mr.Peanut figure

Mr. Peanut is the advertising logo and mascot of Planters, an American snack-food company and division of Kraft Foods. He is depicted as an anthropomorphic peanut in its shell dressed in the formal clothing of an old-fashioned gentleman: with a top hat, monocle, white gloves, spats, and a cane.

wingman.  In my 9/3/20 posting “wingman, winger”, I observe that the wingman is an American social role, a specialization of the American buddy relationship between men — a close and supportive friendship:

your buddy is someone you can confide in safely and will dependably support your interests, and you do the same for him

[a buddy] can serve as a buffer against same-sex competitiveness over social dominance and against the stresses of negotiating the [straight] sexual marketplace

[a wingman] can help scout out the [sexual] territory, smooth the negotiations, and provide emotional support

The wingman serves as a go-between, an intermediary, a negotiator.

The origin of the term is in the Air Force. From OED2 on the noun wing-man:

the pilot of an aircraft which is positioned behind and to one side of the leading aircraft, as in formation for combat [AZ: and so serving a protective function] [1st cite from 1946]

Back at the bar. The word is that Mr. Peanut is a heavy-duty skirt-chaser, using his elegant presentation of himself to rack up one-night stands. F in #1 might well know the goober guy’s rep, so the earnest wingman’s presentation looks like it’s not winning her over. Too bad that M2 is taken.

4 Responses to “Three peanuts meet in a bar”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    Just to note that the bar in #1 seems to offer no peanuts to nibble on. A wise artistic decision on Wayno’s part.

    • Robert Coren Says:

      Now you have me wondering what kind of bar snacks he should have depicted.

      • arnold zwicky Says:

        I wondered about that too. None at all is the safe solution. Otherwise, you end up wondering: would peanuts eat pretzels? Or nachos?

        After that, we’re pretty much into meat: wings and chicken strips, etc.

      • Robert Coren Says:

        I was thinking more along the lines that, since people get offered little peanuts as bar snacks, perhaps peanuts should be offered little people? Not that that wouldn’t be more than a bit creepy.

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