Gil Maher: An Interview With The Driver Of The NUTmobile

Mr. Peanut (Kayla Schmidt) poses beside the NUTmobile When I discovered the Planters NUTmobile was coming to Fayetteville, North Carolina...

Mr. Peanut (Kayla Schmidt) poses beside the NUTmobile
When I discovered the Planters NUTmobile was coming to Fayetteville, North Carolina, I had to make plans to check it out. While there, I discovered that the ridges in the NUTmobile were modeled after pool noodles and that the NUTmobile is approximately 415 peanuts long, 140 peanuts wide, 180 peanuts tall, and weighs the same as three million peanuts. Not only that, I was able to take a tour of the inside of the NUTmobile and interview the driver, Gil Maher.

How did you become a driver for Planters?
They hire recent college graduates. They go to different campuses around the country with the NUTmobile. It's sort of a big attraction. People go, "What is this?" and they say, "You can drive it one day." So yeah, it was a good way to see the country. It's a free road trip. You get to meet everybody and drive a giant food-shaped vehicle. It can't get much better.

Gil Maher and Mr. Peanut (Kayla Schmidt)
How long have you been doing this?
I've been doing it since June 6th. That was our first day.

The NUTmobile
Describe a typical week for you.
We drive on Monday, so we go from one city to another. Our most recent one was from Suffolk, Virginia to Fayetteville, North Carolina, where we are right now. We usually have Tuesday and Wednesday off to go explore the city. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are all work days. Right now, we're at Food Lion. We hand out coupons and hand out samples and people take pictures. Sometimes, we get other events like a peanut festival where we just came from where the people are literally nuts for Mr. Peanut.

Even the Food Lion employees want their pictures taken with Mr. Peanut
So what do you do in your off time?
In our off time we like to go see the city. We went to downtown Fayetteville. We went to the Transportation Museum which was pretty cool. I actually got to drive to Raleigh yesterday and just walk around and get lunch there, which is a nice city too. Really, we ask people what we should do because Mr. Peanut's on his Bucket List Tour. It's sort of a celebration of life where he's doing all the things he's always wanted to do and it's great because we ask people what we should do and what Mr. Peanut should do. Often they're good suggestions for us, too.

Check out the personalized plate
How hard is it to drive the NUTmobile?
It's pretty easy actually. A lot of people think it would be difficult, but it's like driving a big SUV. We had a good bit of training beforehand. But when it's your only vehicle... We go to the movies, we're taking the NUTmobile with us! You get used to it.

Front view of the NUTmobile
I was wondering if you had a car that followed along.
Oh, no. This is all we got. It's pretty conspicuous.

This is where the magic happens
0 to 60 in?
About 60 minutes. 1 mile per hour per minute. No, it's fine. We drive the speed limit. We drive safely. But it's pretty big.

The NUTmobile sports the finest in CB technology
Who do you think would win between the NUTmobile and the Wienermobile?
We get that question a lot. I don't really know because our vehicles are newer. I think it would be pretty even because they're very similar.

Interior facing the front
How many near-accidents do you think you almost cause a day with drivers trying to get a second glance?
I would hope zero but I do know that people get pretty excited because you don't see a giant peanut every single day.

Interior facing the rear
What's your favorite stop been so far?
We've gone to a lot of places but I think my favorite city thus far has been Savannah (Georgia). I really liked Savannah a lot. We did a tour around the city and the houses were beautiful and I loved the parks and everything. That's been my favorite.

The ceiling depicts the evolution of Mr. Peanut
If you guys could be on location anywhere, where would you choose?
That's a good question. I found out yesterday that I get to take the NUTmobile home. I'm from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. That's probably number one for me.

More evolution of Mr. Peanut
Strangest thing that's happened on a stop?
We do run into some pretty nutty people. We were working and a guy just walks up and says, "Hey guys. How are you doing? Here's my Mr. Peanut tattoo." He pulls up his arm, "I got a Mr. Peanut tattoo! I love it!" We gave him a jar of peanuts since he's such a big fan.

Front view of the NUTmobile
Finally, what's the cheesiest nut joke you know?
I would say I really enjoy when we tell people bye, we say, "Cashew later." I really like that one a lot. Or "Saltutations." That's a good one too.

People love Mr. Peanut
Need more NUTmobile? Read all about it here!


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Strange Carolinas is the Travelogue Of The Offbeat, a wry look at the interesting, unique, and offbeat roadside attractions, people, music, art, food, and festivals in North and South Carolina.


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