- Associated Press - Saturday, September 13, 2014

FOND DU LAC, Wis. (AP) - Meghan Krueger is as nutty as they come.

Traveling around the country in an oversized peanut is not the job many students would anticipate after college graduation. But the young woman from Fond du Lac saw it as a unique adventure - a lucky break even - to be chosen as one of a select group of “Planters Peanutters.”

“Who would not want to drive around in a giant peanut, I ask you,” said Krueger, who estimates that she journeyed 8,000 miles this summer through 16 states as a Brand Ambassador for Planters, owned by Kraft Foods.

She was picked from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when the recruiters came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus seeking Peanutters, as well as drivers for the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile.

Sometimes Krueger is behind the wheel of the 26-foot long NUTmobile touring the East Coast. Other times she dons a Mr. Peanut suit and jaunty cap and greets enthusiasts who seem just as nutty as she is, The Reporter Media (http://fondul.ac/1CJTcK4 ) reported.

“For me, it’s like working for a mobile public relations agency and I get to see the country gaining experience as I go,” said Krueger, who has a bachelor’s degree in strategic communication.

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Mr. Peanut’s hot rod weighs 13,000 pounds and rests on a converted 2014 Isuzu semitrailer chassis. The peanut shell is made of foam and fiberglass and is equipped with rooftop solar panels to help charge internal batteries. The first Planters peanut mobile was introduced in 1935.

Krueger received intensive driver’s training before getting behind the wheel.

“It was intimidating at first, but now I am comfortable,” she said.

Peanutters work the crowd and hand out peanut samples, coupons and NUTmobile stickers. They travel in teams of three and take turns driving and acting as Mr. Peanut.

“It definitely can get warm (being Mr. Peanut), but we joke that he is ‘dry-roasted’ so he is used to being in the heat,” Krueger said.

NUTmobile crews look out for each other while on the road, and being silly is permitted and a welcome part of the job.

“When people see a giant peanut it makes them smile and spreads happiness. It’s not just the kids who love it; for so many adults it brings back memories of growing up with Mr. Peanut,” she said.

In fact, the monocled nutman is 98 years old this year. He was designed by a teenager in 1916 as part of a contest hosted by Planters Nut & Chocolate Company.

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Come January, Krueger will switch her travels in the NUTmobile to either the west coast or central region. She’s hoping for the latter and is keeping her fingers crossed for a possible visit to Fond du Lac.

“I would love to bring it home and to stop at my old high school, St. Mary’s Springs Academy. We definitely get lots of stares and waves driving down the highway and into little towns everywhere,” she said.

Teresa Krueger, a teacher at Parkside Elementary School, said her celebrity daughter is definitely making her proud. Her fifth-grade classroom will track the movements of the NUTmobile as it tours the country, and possibly schedule some Skype or FaceTime with Meghan.

“My first reaction is this is a typical Meghan thing. She sets her mind to something and she puts herself out there, and she got stuck in a peanut shell,” she said.

Fingers are crossed that The NUTmobile might drive up to Parkside sometime this school year. Teresa Krueger said she and her husband, Kyle, will see their daughter next at Christmas. The NUTmobile is scheduled to appear in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

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This is the second year of the Planters Brand Ambassador program. It launched in 2013 with one Nutmobile. It soon proved to be a hit at grocery stores, local festivals, baseball games, concerts and community events. Now there are three NUTmobiles traveling the U.S. and leaving a trail of peanuts.

Krueger said she is thankful to have landed such a great job right out of college and has gained life skills along the way.

“And I’ve definitely eaten more peanuts this past summer than I have in my entire life,” she said.

Krueger’s position runs until June 1, 2015.

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Information from: The Reporter Media, http://www.fdlreporter.com

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