“All children are peanuts. They're delightful, funny, irresistible, and wonderfully unpredictable. I really hate to see them grow out of the peanut stage." —Charles M. Schulz.
The first Peanuts comic strip debuted on October 2nd, 1950, which means that the 70th anniversary of the beloved comic page staple is fast approaching. In honor of the cleverly injected social commentary, satirical wit and good old jokes that comprise this iconic piece of American culture, we’ve compiled a few fun facts about Snoopy, Charles Schulz, and the rest of the Peanuts gang for your reading pleasure.
1. Schulz Created New Comics Constantly
Do you know anyone else who’s been published every single day for 50 years? Thought to be “the longest story ever told by a single person,” an original Peanuts strip was prominently featured on the comic page of over 2,500 newspapers every day from the series’ debut in 1950 to February 13, 2000, just mere hours after Schulz’s passing. A total of 17,897 Peanuts strips had been produced by the time Schulz retired.
The comic’s popularity and persistence was a true testament to Schulz’ ability to connect with his readers through the depth of his message, and the relatable characters he created.
2. Charlie Brown’s & Schulz’s Fathers Share An Occupation
Often described as Schulz’s “alter-ego,” the “lovable loser” Charlie Brown takes more from his creator than just personality. Schulz drew on many aspects of his own life to aid the creation of the Peanuts gang, and their parents were no different. Although the adults of Hennepin County rarely make an appearance in the strips, it was made official by Schulz that Charlie Brown’s father is a barber, as was his own.
Mr. Brown even cuts his son’s hair in the comics, and yes, Charlie Brown does in fact have a full head of hair! The seemingly single-stranded tuft atop Charlie’s head has led many people to believe that the 6-year-old is practically bald. But Schulz assured readers that Mr. Brown keeps Charlie’s “light-colored hair cropped close to his head.”
3. Snoopy Had Some Odd Reading Habits
The mischievous yet beloved beagle is known for his very active imagination and philosophical ponderings. But did you know that, in addition to writing (in his mind, of course), he’s also in the process of reading “War and Peace” at the ridiculous rate of one word a day? It’s the same book Charlie Brown chose for his reading assignment in order to impress the little red-haired girl. And it’s just one other way Snoopy decides to fill all that time he has laying on his doghouse, staring up into the sky.
4. Snoopy Has Six Siblings
We’re accustomed to seeing Snoopy partake in his epic solo adventures. Sometimes he’s accompanied by his best friend Woodstock, and other times he finds himself pulled into the hijinks of the Peanuts kids. What we’re not accustomed to thinking about is that Snoopy actually comes from a pretty big family.
Some fans may remember when Snoopy’s brother, Spike, made an appearance in the comic strip. But did you know Snoopy actually has five other brothers and a sister? Their names are Marbles, Ugly Olaf, Andy, Molly, Rover and Belle.
We wonder if they’re all as extravagant as their brother.
5. Snoopy’s First Owner Wasn’t Charlie Brown
Snoopy was actually chosen from his litter of siblings by a little girl named Lila. She loved Snoopy dearly and never forgot the joys and fun they had while together. Unfortunately, Lila had to find another home for the young Snoopy when her parents’ landlord forced her to give up her pet.
Even after their separation, Lila continued to write letters to Snoopy. It was through one of these letters that Snoopy found out Lila had been hospitalized and went to visit her. It was the adaptation of this storyline that gave rise to a truly heart-felt moment in the 1972 movie Snoopy Come Home. Nevertheless, Snoopy loves Charlie Brown just as dearly, and you can come along on the pair’s most hilarious adventures in .
6. Peppermint Patty’s Name Isn’t ‘Peppermint Patty’
As mentioned earlier, Schulz drew from his own life to create Peanuts. Patricia Swanson was a favorite cousin on his mother’s side, and the inspiration behind the sporty and fearless Peppermint Patty. Schulz thought of the alliterative name on spotting some peppermint candies at his house, and decided he should use it before anyone else thought to use the joke.
Peppermint Patty’s full, legal name is actually Patricia Reichardt, in honor of her namesake, and her character was instrumental in Schulz’s address of gender equality issues. With her athletic skill and self-confidence never being questioned or belittled, Peppermint Patty shines in the sportiest of Peanuts strips found in .
7. Franklin Literally Made History
The kind-hearted Franklin Armstrong first appeared in the July 31st, 1968 comic strip, as a result of schoolteacher Harriet Glickman’s letter requesting the inclusion of an African American character after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. He became the first minority character to appear in a mainstream comic with a mass audience...ever.
But this little victory was hard-won. Schulz’s editors did push back on Franklin’s inclusion with the other kids at Birchwood Elementary School, but thankfully, he was adamant.
Franklin's skin color was brought up under the definition of “black” in The Charlie Brown Dictionary. Franklin was depicted talking on a telephone, which was colored black. The (now dated) definition added that "black may also refer to Franklin's skin tone, which is also known as a Negro person." Franklin is also a talented musician and dancer, and became a permanent member of the Peanuts family.
8. Not Everyone Survived
In 1954, Schulz introduced a highly opinionated little girl by the name of Charlotte Braun to the Peanuts lineup. She resembled Charlie Brown in all but hair and dress. Unfortunately, many readers wrote letters complaining to Shulz about her character, so he made her disappear after just 10 appearances.
After Schulz’s passing, a letter sent to one of these readers was publicised. In it, Schulz stated that Charlotte would be removed, but he ominously warned the reader, "remember, however, that you and your friends will have the death of an innocent child on your conscience." A drawing of Charlotte’s character was affixed to the bottom of the letter, with an ax plunged into her head. With that, Charlotte Braun was essentially “killed” off.
9. The Brilliant Benefit of Beethoven
Musical prodigy and reliable catcher Schroeder is almost never caught without his trusty toy piano. Unless, of course, he’s cleverly throwing shade at Charlie Brown’s skill from on the field. How can you not love the kid whose response to Frieda asking if he’d “ like just once to see Charlie Brown hit the ball” was a calm "No, I am not prepared to have the world come to an end"?
This talented and witty musician idolizes Beethoven and his music, as made evident in the melodic escapes of . Schroeder wants to be just like Beethoven when he grows up. He even remembers his own address at 1770 James Street because it’s Beethoven’s birth year.
If you’ve ever wondered why Beethoven was chosen to be this 6-year-old’s muse, it’s simply because Schulz thought words beginning with “B” sounded funny: hence blockhead, beagle and Beethoven.
Keep Reading: 10 Life Lessons from the Peanuts Gang
Featured photo: Via the cover of Snoopy, The Flying Ace