Mr. Peanut Is Dead, Long Live Mr. Peanut

Fictional characters like Santa Claus and Jon Snow should, by all rights, be dead, but we accept that they're kept alive by vague magic, whether of the Christmas or corporate variety. That's why the death of Mr. Peanut on Wednesday came as such a shock, even though the dandy legume was 104 goddamn years old. It's never been clear how Peanut biology works, but we did find out last year that he has sex, so it stands to reason that he can wither and die as well. And now we have two new nightmares that we pray never join into one.

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It's a weird thing to contemplate: this fiction of immortality that we foist upon our cultural symbols, knowing in our hearts that nothing lasts forever, least of all our fragile meat shells. No one wakes up expecting to be confronted with the oblivion that awaits us all by way of a cartoon peanut, but here we are.

Further blurring the lines between fiction and reality is the revelation, in the wake of his passing, that Mr. Peanut had an entire life story. Not only did he have a birth date, he had a birth place, where residents have built impromptu memorials -- the same as they would for any local hero. After all, he was a World War II veteran.

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But the elderly mascot did not go gently into that good night, passing peacefully in his sleep as we would expect from a centenarian. He went out the way we all hope to: Speeding through a canyon in a novelty food-shaped van and then saving Wesley Snipes's life.

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It's one thing to receive the news of Mr. Peanut's passing, and quite another to actually witness his fiery demise. But dignity is decidedly not what Planters is going for: The whole thing is a teaser for the real publicity stunt -- a full-on funeral to be broadcast during the Super Bowl. The creative director of the advertising agency responsible for the campaign explained that they felt they had to top last year's Super Bowl spot, so God only knows what macabre horrors await us next year. We can only assume it will involve necromancy and jelly.

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