Lauren Takores: On the Bright Side: A shell of a time with the Nutmobile in Cooperstown

Nov. 3—The Planters Nutmobile, a 26-foot-long fiberglass peanut on wheels, arrived in Otsego County this week, cracking smiles and shell-ebrating all things peanut.

Calling "shell-o" from inside the nutty ride to passersby, a crew of three Peanutters drove up and down Main Street in Cooperstown Friday, Nov. 3, stopping to take in the view of Otsego Lake from the Fair Street boat launch.

They greeted several people who approached the Nutmobile, including Joe Lepetich, a boat captain at Glimmerglass Queen Tour Boat Company.

He inquired about what the vehicle was — it's a converted Isuzu truck with a gull wing door, built in 2017.

Those ridges on the outside? Pool noodles.

Ray Augur, of Middlefield, said that he saw the Nutmobile several years ago and had to make another visit.

"Makes you act like a kid," he said.

The brand ambassadors — Tania Castro of Las Vegas, Katie Chesebro of Janesville, Wisconsin and Mason Mulrooney of Huntsville, Alabama — shared their personal stories of how they came to sign onto the one-year gig of road tripping across the country.

Chesebro, 23, lives close to a plant for Hormel Foods, the company that owns Planters, and heard about the job through a social media post from her mother.

Castro, 25, actually saw the Nutmobile drive past her while picking up lunch and decided to apply, while Mulrooney's story involves a family history with Planters.

"I've been surrounded by Mr. Peanut and Planters my whole life," Mulrooney, 22, said, "because my great-grandfather used to own own and operate three Planters stores in Memphis, when there were still brick-and-mortar stores."

The connection is still strong — last December, the family wore Mr. Peanut Christmas sweaters to surprise his grandmother, whose father owned the stores.

"When I was looking at jobs, this one not only seemed like a very perfect way to see the world and spread joy, but it was also a great thing to do for my family," he said.

The current Nutmobile crew, which is the 10th class to participate in the program, trained for the job in Austin, Minnesota — the home of Hormel.

The year-long job runs from June to May, during which they live on the road, going from event to event with two days off each week.

The Nutmobile is their only source of transportation, so even on their days off, they end up greeting people and handing out swag.

"People ask us like, 'oh do y'all get tired, do you get exhausted,'" Mulrooney said, "but it's extremely hard to when everyone is just smiling right back at you."

They do most of their own planning, visiting a new place every week.

After visiting the boat launch, the Nutmobile headed for downtown Oneonta and back up to Cooperstown for Ommegang Firepit Friday.

On Saturday, the crew had scheduled a break to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in Oneonta.

There have been several Nutmobile vehicles over the year, with the first version created in 1935.

"This is the only one that travels across the country," Castro said, "so if anybody happens to see this Nutmobile, it's the one and only," she said.

The current one is named Mar-shell.

The 1935 nut car "was definitely a smaller vehicle, but they still called it the Nutmobile, which is why we say 1935," Chesebro said.

They sometimes meet up with the drivers of the L.L. Bean Bootmobile or the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

In fact, the Nutmobile pre-dates the Wienermobile by one year.

"Thanks a crunch," Castro said as the visitors departed.

"Cashew later," Chesebro said.

The Nutmobile is available for request appearances. To request a visit from the Nutmobile, visit

Follow their journey on TikTok @plantersnutmobile and Instagram @plantersnutmobileofficial.