Peanuts are easily the most common nut eaten by Americans. Peanut butter is the nut butter, and is the most memorable creation of the great American of George Washington Carver and his prodigious peanut pioneering. Even plain-old peanuts are just a common snack at ball games, at home, or at Five Guys:
Celebrating #NationalPeanutDay! 🥜 pic.twitter.com/9NEZzPoGCc— Five Guys (@FiveGuys) September 13, 2021
Their popularity is obviously partially due to their good nutty taste, but largely just because they’re the cheapest nut in America. Part of this is due to Mr. Carver’s legacy of peanut-growing, as it is a very suitable crop for the continent, and this increased volume drives down cost. However, part of it is ironically because peanuts aren’t botanically nuts. They’re actually legumes.
Because they’re legumes they grow on small bushes, not trees. Unusually, they grow underground, but because they’re small annual plants, machines can just rip the entire plants out of the ground every year and harvest all the peanuts mechanically. This is much more cost-effective than harvesting botanical nuts, which grow on trees and often must be picked by hand. This high, efficient production ensures that they’re the default “nut” for Americans.
And regardless of their botanical oddities, peanuts are culinarily nuts. They’re far more interchangeable with cashews than they are with beans. Since you shouldn’t really care about botanical definitions, peanuts are nuts, as the name says.