Cracking the Mystery: Why Some Restaurants Serve Peanuts as Pre-Meal Appetizers

Have you ever wondered why some restaurants serve peanuts as pre-meal appetizers? This practice, common in many American-style restaurants and bars, has a fascinating history and a number of practical reasons behind it. Let’s crack the mystery and delve into the reasons why some establishments choose to serve peanuts before the main course.

Historical Background

The tradition of serving peanuts as appetizers dates back to the 19th century. Saloons and taverns in the United States would often provide patrons with free peanuts, pretzels, and other salty snacks. The salty snacks were intended to make patrons thirsty, encouraging them to order more drinks. Over time, this tradition has evolved and persisted, with many modern establishments continuing to serve peanuts as a pre-meal appetizer.

Practical Reasons

There are several practical reasons why restaurants might choose to serve peanuts before a meal. Here are a few:

  • Peanuts are relatively inexpensive and easy to store, making them a cost-effective choice for restaurants.

  • They can be served in their shells, which can provide a fun and interactive experience for customers.

  • Peanuts are a good source of protein and can help to curb hunger while customers wait for their meals.

  • Like the saloons of old, serving salty peanuts can encourage customers to order more drinks.

Psychological Factors

There are also psychological factors at play. Offering free peanuts can create a positive first impression and make customers feel welcome. It can also help to keep customers occupied while they wait for their food, reducing perceived wait times and improving overall customer satisfaction.

Health Considerations

While peanuts can be a healthy snack in moderation, they are also a common allergen. For this reason, some restaurants have stopped serving peanuts, or have switched to other types of nuts or snacks. If you have a peanut allergy, it’s always a good idea to inform the restaurant staff before you order.


In conclusion, the tradition of serving peanuts as pre-meal appetizers has a long history and a number of practical and psychological reasons behind it. Whether it’s to encourage drink orders, keep customers entertained, or simply to provide a tasty snack, it’s a tradition that’s likely to continue in many restaurants for years to come.

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