"Quiet in the peanut gallery!" It's an expression we remember hearing as kids giggling too loudly in the backseat or whispering during a lecture in school. But what is a peanut gallery, really? (No, it's not an art gallery with portraits of famous peanuts.)
The term originates with vaudeville theaters of the early 1900s. The "peanut gallery" was another name for the cheap seats (either the very back or very front rows of the theater), where opinionated audience members would loudly heckle the performers. And their jeers weren't just verbal: They'd buy peanuts and use them as projectiles, pelting the actors on stage.
The peanut gallery became associated with children through the popular children's television program The Howdy Doody Show, which included the Peanut Gallery, bleachers full of children who sang along with the cowboy puppet's songs throughout the show. And fun fact: The name of the Charles Schulz comic strip Peanuts was inspired by the Howdy Doody Peanut Gallery. The United Feature Syndicate chose the name because Li'l Folks, Schulz's original title for the strip, was too similar to Li'l Abner. Schulz always hated the name Peanuts. "It's totally ridiculous, has no meaning, is simply confusing, and has no dignity," he said in a 1987 interview.
So the peanut gallery is at worst a rude bunch of peanut-throwing hecklers and at best a gaggle of scream-singing children. For peanut-filled treats to please even the rowdiest peanut gallery, check out these recipes.