Admitting the job “drives us nuts,” three drivers, known as “peanutters” are taking the 28-foot long vehicle on a tour of the country and providing plenty of samples, and smiles, along the way.
CLEARWATER — You know the old slogan, “sometimes you feel like a nut, sometime you don’t?” Well for a trio of recent college graduates, they never “don’t” feel like a nut, or else they wouldn’t have signed on to be copilots of the Planters NUTmobile for its first ever North American tour.
The peanut giant, which is owned by Kraft Foods, came up with the concept of a humungous peanut on wheels traversing the country and spreading the word about the company’s products about a year ago, and Lauren Enkerud and her two colleagues, Adam Escobar and Dani Poole, were selected from more than 1,000 applicants.
Enkerud, who holds a bachelor’s degree in telecommunication from the University of Florida and has family in St. Petersburg, said the experience has proven to be the opportunity of a lifetime.
“We were recruited out of college by Kraft, originally to drive their Oscar Meyer Weinermobile,” Enkerud, explained during a break in the tour. “But then we learned they were planning to launch this NUTmobile, and we were selected to be the first official pilots of the vehicle.”
After completing 40 hours of training to learn how to drive a giant peanut – “it doesn’t drive like my Toyota Corolla!” Enkerud admitted - Enkerud and her two copilots began their nutty journey last June, handing out samples and posing for pictures with Mr. Peanut at store openings, parades, festivals and other events.
In fact, the NUTmobile was in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and made appearances at NFL, Major League Baseball and other national sporting events.
In Pinellas County, the tour included stops at Walmart stores in Clearwater, Pinellas Park, Largo and St. Petersburg.
“We’ve done some amazing things, while we are working and off the clock,” Enkerud said, naming skydiving and white water rafting as a couple of the trio’s bonding experiences. “You grow as a person with these experiences.”
Enkerud said the tour, which swung through Clearwater recently for four stops in five days, has been an ideal way for her to learn more about people and the world as a young person fresh out of college.
“I’ve definitely gained life skills that I never had before,” she said. “I’ve essentially been driving around in a giant PR firm on wheels!”
While the peanutters aren’t sure what’s next for them when they finish the tour in June, Enkerud said the tour has been one she’ll never forget.
“Mr. Peanut is a 97-year-old American icon. A lot of adults have grown up with him, and when they see him, it makes them feel like kids again,” she said. “Plus you can’t help but smile when you see a 24-foot peanut rolling down the street.”
“We are truly the only people in the country who can literally say that our job drives us nuts! It’s been a lot of fun, people are always waving and honking and asking us to pose for pictures,” she added. “But then we tell them it’s time for us to hit the trail (mix), get the ‘shell’ on the road and ‘cashew’ later!”