Lily Grier Special to the Jewish News
Jewish Detroiters take to the road in the NUTmobile.
In spring 2017, during her senior year at the University of Michigan, Jaclyn Nagel found herself sitting in an informational session for a position at Planters, one that would entail spending a year on the road in the NUTmobile, a 26-foot bus shaped like a peanut.
While she hated driving and had planned to look for jobs in cities where no car was needed, she found the idea of exploring a new city every week and interacting with different people on a day-to-day basis appealing. Several months and a few interviews later, Nagel found herself in Madison, Wis., at Peanutter orientation alongside eight other recent college graduates from across the country.
Along with those who would be driving the Oscar-Meyer Wienermobile, also owned by Kraft-Heinz, the Peanutters learned the finer points of running promotional events as well as the ins and outs of driving and parking a giant peanut in various terrains and weather conditions.
This past June, Nagel handed over the keys of the NUTmobile to another Jewish Detroiter, Jordyn Hack, a West Bloomfield native and recent graduate of Indiana University. “Last year, my mom ran into Jaclyn’s mom and asked what Jaclyn was up to. My mom thought the opportunity sounded perfect for me, and I got in touch with Jaclyn. It was fate,” Hack said. Nagel and Hack are the first Detroiters to enter the Peanutter family, and they hope the legacy will continue.
The nine Peanutters travel in teams of three NUTmobiles, each in different parts of the country. Halfway through the year-long commitment, Peanutters switch teams, gaining the opportunity to explore a new region of the country. Daily activities range from manning tables in grocery stores to giving NUTmobile tours to riding in hot air balloons with Mr. Peanut. Nagel’s favorite memories include meeting Jimmy Carter at the Plains Peanut Festival in Georgia and working the 7-Eleven Trade Show in Las Vegas.
“I love getting to talk to different people and hear their stories. We met a group of older people in Baltimore who collect Planters memorabilia, and they told us about how the NUTmobile passed out peanuts during World War II. It’s amazing to see how our work was such a meaningful part of people’s childhood memories,” Hack said.
Hack loved having the honor of bringing the NUTmobile to Detroit and showing it to her friends and family. “We drove it down Woodward for the Dream Cruise, and people went wild,” she said.
Nagel said the experience gave her the opportunity to explore many great cities. “There were cities I knew I would love — and did — like Denver and San Francisco, and then there were cities I knew next to nothing about that ended up being incredible.”
One such unexpected gem was Missoula, Mont. A man wearing a kippah approached the Planters display. Nagel struck up a conversation with him about the Jewish community in Missoula and learned he was a campus Chabad rabbi at the University of Montana. Nagel accepted his invitation to attend Shabbat dinner and had a wonderful time getting to know some Jewish students. “The experience reminded me that you can find a little bit of home anywhere,” Nagel said.
Nagel now lives in Chicago. She is interviewing for event coordinator positions that will allow her to put the skills she learned in the past year to use while taking a more managerial role.