Discover the Tiny U.S. Town Known as the `Peanut Capital of the World`

Peanut Capital of the World
© Dean Drobot, douglascraig from Getty Images Signature, and Bali Studio/ via Canva.com

Written by Nina Phillips

Published: December 4, 2023

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Discover the Tiny U.S. Town Known as the `Peanut Capital of the World`

Some towns and cities are rather boring, with no history to make them stand out. On the other hand, there are cities that have a rich and colorful history that makes them unique. Nashville, for example, is widely known as the music capital of the US. Then, there are cities with even more fun titles, such as “Peanut Capital of the World.”

To learn what place in the world has that title, and how they earned it, you’ll have to keep reading.

What Is the Peanut Capital of the World?

Dothan, AL, USA - Cities on Map Series

This unassuming city is the owner of the title, “Peanut Capital of the World.”

©Jens_Lambert_Photography/iStock via Getty Images

The Peanut Capital of the World is located in Dothan, Alabama. This city is in the southeast corner of the state in Houston County. It’s the eighth-largest city in Alabama, with a little over 71,000 people.

This city was first established as a trading community centered around a small spring. However, at that time, it had the name Poplar Head instead of Dothan. During the Civil War, the community became industrial, focusing on turpentine creation and sawmills.

The population grew enough that the state decided to make it a town. Unfortunately, another town by the name of Poplar Head already existed by that time. The community decided to change the name to Dothan, based on a Bible verse (Genesis 37:17) that said “Let us go to Dothan.” The community became a town officially on November 10th, 1885.

Why Is it Known as the Peanut Capital of the World?

mage of heart shape frame made of peanuts on wooden background

Dothan loves its rich peanut history.

©Sergio Hayashi/Shutterstock.com

In the very early 1900s, a man named Dr. George Washington Carver began experimenting with farming in the area. One of the plants that he attempted to grow in the soil was peanuts. The peanuts did exceptionally well. They turned into a staple crop for the area.

Since peanuts grew so well, people in and around the town started to grow them in abundance. Nowadays, roughly a quarter of peanuts grown and consumed in the US are within a 100-mile radius of the city.

Not only did Dr. Carver establish that peanuts grew well in the nearby soil, but he also came up with over 300 items and products that could be developed from the humble peanut. In 1938, the city first hosted a celebration of the peanut and Dr. Carver. While there was a six-year hiatus during World War II, the festival returned in 1947 and has gone on every year since, usually in November.

Since then, Dothan, Alabama has embraced its title. Various items around the city are shaped like peanuts, including fire hydrants. There’s also a National Peanut Festival to celebrate the fact, and even a George Washington Carver Interpretative Museum to celebrate the man who made the city what it is today.

Tensions Rise Over the Title

Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts in downtown Suffolk, Virginia, USA

Another city used to be the place people thought of when they thought of peanuts, and they’re not quite ready to give up the title.

©O.C Ritz/Shutterstock.com

It’s not just Dothan that wants to be known as the peanut capital of the world. Suffolk, Virginia argues that it’s the peanut capital of the world. Not only is it home to many peanut manufacturing plants, but it grows its own peanuts, a unique species known as Virginian peanuts.

Many people say that Suffolk’s hold is outdated, and it’s no longer the center of the peanut world, but those in Virginia, especially in Suffolk, aren’t so ready to let go.


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About the Author

Nina is a writer at A-Z Animals. Her focus is on wildlife, national parks, and the environment. She has been writing on animals for over three years. Nina holds a Bachelor's in Conservation Biology, which she uses when talking about animals and their natural habitats. In her free time, Nina also enjoys working on writing her novels and short stories. As a resident of Colorado, Nina enjoys getting out in nature, traveling, and watching snow hit the mountains from her enclosed porch.

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