For many college students, the question ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ is a tough nut to crack.
When Grace Noice was in college, she definitely didn’t expect to be driving a peanut-shaped truck across the country after graduating — and for a career, no less.
“If you had told me I would be driving a peanut for a living, right off the bat,” she said, “I would have thought you were crazy.”
Fresh out of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Noice — known at her job as “Go Nuts Grace” — joined The Kraft Heinz Company in July 2020 as a Planters Brand Ambassador.
She said she initially became interested in the snacking nuts company when she watched the Mr. Peanut Super Bowl commercial and was enthralled with the ad’s story.
“When they killed Mr. Peanut, I was an advertising student, and I was like, ‘This is genius, I have to know what happens,’” Noice said. “I was actually trying to buy merch, and I found the link and I applied and now I drive a peanut.”
That peanut is the Planters NUTmobile, which visited Boston briefly last week and held an information session through BU Handshake Feb. 3 to recruit the next group of “Peanutters”— brand spokespersons — to drive the iconic vehicle, Noise said.
Noice described the NUTmobile as a “26-foot-long peanut on wheels,” which recent college graduates drive across the country for a full year. There are three NUTmobiles, each in a different region of the country, she said, and nine “Peanutters” are selected every year.
“We like to say it’s an ‘east to west NUTcracking fest,’” Noice said, “We go around the whole country doing events and creating experiences for people, that’s the main purpose.”
The NUTmobile, made of a fiberglass exterior with solar panels along its roof and fueled by a biodiesel generator, ventures from retail events to farmers markets to zoos, Noice said, for both volunteering and brand-awareness purposes.
Noice said the NUTmobile is “experiential marketing” — ambassadors aim to promote better engagement between themselves and consumers.
“We’re just trying to spread smiles and positivity,” Noice said. “We’re out there trying to make a good impression for people and trying to help the world.”
When driving the peanut, Noice said “no day is the same” — the types of events Peanutters attend change daily. She also said, as an ambassador, she can book some of the events she attends, which offers a lot of freedom for college graduates.
Maggie Farr, a sophomore in College of Arts of Sciences, said she saw the peanut when walking back to her dormitory from the George Sherman Union — a sight she described as quite the surprise.
“I was very shocked when I saw it,” Farr said. “I just see this giant nut coming down the highway, so I literally stopped and it made me smile.”
Noice said Planters was drawn to BU because of its “communications program.” However, she said the program is looking to hire students with interests and majors in other disciplines.
“We wanted to expand our ranges,” Noice said. “We would really love to see what BU has to offer and that’s why we’re here.”
With a similar aim to promote brand awareness, Oscar Meyer’s Wienermobile is a hot dog shaped truck also owned by Kraft Heinz. Noice said some of the drivers of that mobile — “Hotdoggers” — have backgrounds in neuroscience and business.
The NUTmobile definitely made for an intriguing sight, Farr said, and is something she would love to see more of for both the drivers and consumers.
“I really love the concept of it,” Farr said. “I think if other companies could drive around marketing exactly what they produce, that could make for such an interesting experience.”
She said it brought her a lot of joy and is a successful marketing tactic.
“I would be so happy to see more nuts driving up and down the bridge,” Farr said. “I literally stopped and smiled and took a picture, it made me think so highly of Planters, so I think it’s a super effective marketing campaign.”
Farr said she personally would be “so honored to be able to drive the NUTmobile.”
Noice said those interested in applying should understand they likely “have more to offer” than they may realize. Once accepted, they go to training at “Peanut Prep” or “Hotdog High,” depending on their mobile-of-choice.
“You have to have an appetite for adventure, absolutely, because it’s a full year on the road,” she said. “It’s just about your desire to travel and your personality skills, and people are more qualified than they think.”
Noice said her favorite part of the job is seeing people’s reactions — the waves, the honks and the excited expressions — to the NUTmobile, adding the experience has been “so positive.”
The application deadline to apply to be a “Planters Spokesperson” — or “Peanutter” — through Handshake is Feb. 20. Noice said being a Peanutter means having a varying daily work schedule but always a unique experience.
“You never get to do that kind of stuff in a normal desk job,” Noice said. “You’re making your own hours for the most part and you’re in charge of … making magic for people.”