Found a Peanut

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"Found a Peanut" is a traditional song, often considered a children's song, in the United States, Australia and Canada. It is popular to sing on long trips, as it has a very repetitive format which is easy to memorize, and can take a long time to sing. It is sung to the tune of "Oh My Darling, Clementine". It may often be sung around a camp fire.[1]

Contents

Basic lyrics

A basic version of the variable lyrics is:

Found a peanut
Found a peanut,
Found a peanut just now.
just now I found a peanut,
Found a peanut just now.
Cracked it open, cracked it open, cracked it open right now
right now i cracked it open, cracked it open right now.
It was rotten, it was rotten, it was rotten just now,
just now it was rotten, it was rotten just now.

Then it continues with the same rhythm:

Ate it anyway
got ill
called the doctor
operation had an operation just now
he couldn't find it
died anyway
went to heaven
got a job there
selling peanuts
but I dropped one
then I found it

and restarts from "Cracked it open".

Many variations

The simple repetitive structure of the song lends itself to near infinite variations. Sometimes "Just now" is substituted for "last night". Sometimes the verse will not reference the preceding verse as in the first example above.

Versions current in Baltimore in 1955 weren't quite as heavenly focused, and ended in: "Shoveling coal, shoveling coal, shoveling coal just now ..."

Another common variation on "last night" is "yesterday". This is used by "This Morning With Richard Not Judy" (TMWRNJ) by Stewart Lee and Richard Herring.

Other substitutions include:

Origins

Some attribute the song to Jack Schafer of Detroit, MI in 1958, although the song appears in the 1949 film A Letter to Three Wives. Those lyrics end at "Ate it anyway."

Wild Speculations

Future folklore researchers and cultural anthropologists might consider a possible association between the unrecognized nut allergies that claim childhood lives and/or anaphylatoxin reactions and the origin of the song. There may have been a specific incident and death that gave rise to the song in the local childrens' culture that spread through children's folk networks as well as more formal media.

Appearance in popular culture

The 1949 film, A Letter to Three Wives.

The song appears memorably in a morbidly funny moment during the film Tromeo and Juliet, where a family in a car are singing the song before they get into an accident. In the following scene, the character Detective Scalus says, "They found a peanut alright, a peanut of death!"

The song also appears at the opening of the opera, The Abduction of Figaro, by Peter Schickele (P.D.Q. Bach).

This Morning With Richard Not Judy (TMWRNJ) by Stewart Lee and Richard Herring.

In Serial Mom, the 1994 American satirical comedy, Beverly Sutphin (played by Kathleen Turner) sings this song with her fellow prisoners as they ride on a bus en route to court.

A version appears on the 2009 Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds album, "Dracula Boots".

References