Atomic Peanuts

In 1959, Walter C. Gregory of North Carolina State College introduced "atomic" peanuts to the world. Despite the name, they weren't radioactive peanuts.

He had exposed peanut seeds to huge amounts of radiation to create mutant strains. Then he had selected the mutant strains with the qualities (size) he liked. And in this way created jumbo-sized peanuts.

As this article at Atlas Obscura notes, what Gregory was doing was "mutation breeding," and it's the way many of the varieties of fruit and veggies we eat nowadays are created. We no longer call it "atomic" food, though it is.

Since the 1950s and 60s, mutation breeding has created around 3,000 commercially available varieties of plant—durum wheat, rice, soybeans, barley, chickpeas, white beans, peaches, bananas, papayas, tomatoes, sunflowers, and more. Almost any grapefruit you've bought was probably a mutant.

"Atomic" peanuts

Man and woman eating "atomic" peanuts

Kansas City Times - Jan 12, 1959

     Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 30, 2015
     Category: Food | Science | Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters | 1950s

Good thing that process was started back then. If someone came up with it today we'd have groups screaming that the food was unsafe to eat and we'd all be stuck with small produce.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 08/30/15 at 08:41 AM
Most everything we eat is the result of mutated genes. It's also known as evolution.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 08/30/15 at 09:08 AM
Every time I hear people attack GMO products, I tell about these methods. They call me a liar and leave.
Posted by Gary Foster on 08/31/15 at 11:23 AM
That is because zealots rarely allow simple facts to get in the way of their beliefs.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 08/31/15 at 11:46 AM
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