A Manhattan native has been traveling the country this year in the famous Planters NUTmobile.
Sydney Kelly, 22, a Lincoln-Way Central High School graduate, had a day off from her job Tuesday, so she took the NUTmobile home with her to Manhattan ahead of her official stops in the Chicago area.
As a Planters “peanutter,” she and her colleagues drive across the country to different community events, parades, sporting events and food festivals with Mr. Peanut, the official company mascot.
She said they give tours of the vehicle, hand out samples and let families take photos with Mr. Peanut and the NUTmobile itself.
When Kelly was finishing up college at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, she said she thought working for Planters and traveling the country was a great opportunity.
The company came to campus to recruit peanutters for the job.
Kelly was one of nine peanutters hired to visit different regions of the country in one of three NUTmobiles this year.
She said she had been interested in public relations, enjoyed talking to people and was intrigued by the prospect of traveling.
“It just sounded like the most perfect first job, out of school experience, that I could have,” Kelly said.
While she needed to explain exactly what she would be doing to her parents, they ultimately agreed it was a good fit.
Kelly and her fellow peanutters trained in Madison. Her group traveled mostly throughout the East Coast, the South and now the Midwest.
Since June, she’s traveled to 19 states, and her team will be in Chicago and the northern suburbs over the next week.
A highlight of her journey includes Washington, D.C.’s annual barbecue festival, where the group helped entertain the crowd of thousands alongside the Wienermobile, their sister company’s other famous food-themed vehicle.
“That was a really cool kickstart to the job,” she said.
Now that the NUTmobile team is making its way through Illinois, she said she was very lucky to be so close to home.
Some family members stopped by Tuesday to check it out for themselves.
She said even a neighbor asked about it when Kelly parked it in her parents’ driveway.