Calling all Peanut Butter Kids!

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 18, 2000

Features Editor

Bill Cosby said that man cannot live by bread alone, he must have peanut butter.

Just when Cosby came up with that truth is unknown, but there’s one thing for sure, a few folks down in Brundidge realized it long ago. So, each October the Brundidge Historical Society pays tribute to peanut butter and the role the town played in pioneering the peanut butter industry in the South with the Peanut Butter Festival.

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One of the highlights of the festival on Saturday, Oct. 21, is the selection of the Peanut Butter Kids. The contest is for cute kids ages 4 through 7 and it’s so laid back that the kids don’t even know they’ve been in a contest.

They take center stage at the Festival at 10 a.m. and delight the crowd with funny antics such as doing the hokey-pokey and balancing peanut butter and crackers on their teeny-tiny noses.

There is no fee to enter the Peanut Butter Kids contest and the kids don’t have to be buttoned up and frilled up. Jeans and overalls are the fashion wear for Peanut Butter Kids and fun is the order of the day. There is no need to pre-register. Just be hanging around the stage and listen for the call for all Peanut Butter Kids to "come on down."

One boy and one girl will be selected as the Peanut Butter Kids for 2000-2001 and this is how the Peanut Butter Festival Kids were born.

Back in 1928, young J.D. Johnston was traveling around the country drumming up business for his family’s peanut shelling plant when he came home with an idea that he thought would make some money. He had learned that peanut butter was gaining popularity as a tasty, inexpensive source of protein and it could be made rather simply

and could produce a good profit.

His dad, Lon Johnston, put up the the seed money and the Johnston Mill became the first in the South to make peanut butter for commercial use.

A few years later, the Johnston Mill in downtown Brundidge got some of its strongest competition from the Johnson brothers who put up a peanut butter mill on the south end of town.

Knowing that peanut butter was a tasty, nutritious foodstuff and that kids were "stuck" on it, Grady Johnson and his brother Oscar, decided to market their peanut butter with kids in mind.

Their first peanut butter was packaged under the colorful Louis-Anne label. The Louis-Anne Peanut Butter Company was named for Grady Johnson’s children, Louis and Anise.

Louis went on to distinguish himself in both the Canadian and United States Air Forces during World War II.

He was a fighter pilot and also a private pilot for Gen. Montgomery. As a reward for his bravery during a forced landing while the general was on board, Louis Johnson was given permission to choose a design to designate the general’s plane. He chose the Louis-Anne logo.

It is doubtful that any other peanut butter has been so distinguished.

Anise married Jeff Sorrell, a wealthy farmer and timber man and they lived in the Saco community. Sorrell Chapel on the TSU campus is named in their memory.

Because peanut butter was a mainstay in Brundidge and helped sustain the town during the Great Depression and gave a boost to the local economy for many years and because Louis and Anise exemplified the traits of patriotism, bravery, generosity and concern for humankind, the Brundidge Historical Society thinks it is fitting and proper to select Peanut Butter Kids to represent the town of Brundidge and the farming community as part of the Peanut Butter Festival activities.