Everything You've Ever Wondered About Circus Peanuts

Who invented them...and why?

Let's just put it out there: Circus Peanuts don't make sense. Vaguely peanut-shaped, marshmallow-y, bright orange, and, for some reason...banana-flavored?

And there are few candies as controversial as the Circus Peanut. Just bringing these up is enough to get a debate going.

But there are those who LOVE them. Like, out of everything in the candy store...this is what they choose! So, while they get a lot of hate, they have their devoted fans. People enjoy them because they're nostalgic. And you have to admit – they're kind of intriguing, right? 

It's time to take a dive into their mysterious history! 

Who Invented Circus Peanuts?

Actually...no one really knows. They date back to the 1800s, and they are considered one of the very first penny candies. Back then, they were a seasonal treat, because they weren't able to be preserved.

One theory is that they originated from the traveling circus, when they were sold alongside popcorn and (regular) peanuts. Hence the name Circus Peanuts! 

Why Are They Banana-Flavored? 

Again...no one really knows. But there are a few theories. 

One is that the banana flavor wasn't planned––it just happened as a result of a freak banana oil accident. Then someone tried it, and it stuck. 

Another theory is that, while it would have made more sense to flavor these like actual peanuts, the creators chose the banana flavor because banana oil was more stable and less expensive than peanut oil. 

Interesting, right? We love these even more for being so mysterious. 

Weird Facts About Circus Peanuts

You know the marshmallows in Lucky Charms cereal? Legend has it those were inspired by Circus Peanuts! The inventor tried chopping them up and adding the pieces to his cereal...and the rest is history. 

Another interesting fact: during World War II, when sugar was rationed, a Circus Peanut "slurry" was sold as a replacement. Hard to imagine, isn't it? 

And you might be either horrified or delighted to know that, today, you can find all kinds of recipes for Circus Peanut Jello Salad. Honestly...that sounds good! 

Who Makes Circus Peanuts Today?

While no one really knows where they came from, Circus Peanuts are still being produced––luckily for CP lovers everywhere. 

Today, they're mostly produced by Spangler Candy Company. They've been making them since the early 1900s. 

And we have them at Life is Sweet!

So, if after all of that strange history, you're wising you had some... 

Click here to buy Circus Peanuts! Take a walk down memory lane. 


And here's the big question: do you love them or hate them? Let us know in the comments!


  • olive

    yum yum peanuts

  • Julie

    Circus peanuts were my grandmother’s favorite candy. She passed away a few years ago, but every once in a while, I get some in her honor!!

  • Karen Louk

    They are yummy

  • Wendy

    LOVE them! And they remind me of my grandfather who also loved them. I never realized they were banana flavored either…weird…guess I should have some soon to test it out! 🤣

  • Lynn

    Love Circus peanuts! I never really thought about what flavor they are, but banana, that explains why I love them so much! Banana Laffy taffy is another favorite. 😋