Don’t call it ‘Peanuts’! Why Charles Schulz hated his comic strip’s name

When Charles Schulz first sold “Peanuts,” now widely considered the most successful newspaper comic strip of all time, he had little leverage in his negotiations with United Features Syndicate. At the time, he was a virtual unknown. His most notable work, a somewhat prototypical Peanuts strip entitled “Lil’ Folks,” was found only in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Charles Schulz wanted to use this title for his new syndicated comic strip, but executives quickly informed the plucky Midwesterner that this title had been used in a different comic strip. The alternative title formulated by the syndicate was “Peanuts.”

While Schulz agreed to the title out of desire to see his work nationally (and later internationally) syndicated, he always hated the title. Throughout the early years of the strip, he would call the syndicate to ask if the name could be changed to a more meaningful title, such as Good Ol’ Charlie Brown.

Schulz would frequently describe his detestation of his comic strip’s name in interviews. In one interview, Charles Schulz described the title as follows: “It’s not a nice word. It’s totally ridiculous, has no meaning, is simply confusing, and has no dignity. And I think my humor has dignity.”

When asked what he did for a living, Schulz never said he drew “Peanuts,” instead saying he drew the comic strip with Charlie Brown and Snoopy. And in many Sunday Peanuts strips, he would write “featuring Good Ol’ Charlie Brown” beneath the “Peanuts” title. He took his hatred of the name “Peanuts” to the grave.