Recently, I found myself bemused over a lotto ad at the Union Square subway station. It featured a drawing of a top hat stuffed beyond the brim with wads of cash. Why, I wondered, in the age of Teslas and bitcoin, is the top hat still the enduring symbol of wealth and class? Shouldn't it have morphed by now into the symbol of misguided teenage eccentricity?
Consider the ultimate manifestation of this phenomenon, Mr. Peanut (you know, the Planters logo). I recently came across an infographic showing the changes he's undergone over the decades, from 1918 onward into the 21st century. Sure enough, minor tweaks here and there, but signature top hat (and monocle, to boot!) remain to this day.
In this day and age, why market your product with the image of a Gilded Age millionaire? Certainly Mr. Peanut, prodigious captain of industry he appears to have been, had children and his children had children and they are in the world today conducting their affairs with the class and dignity that the mantle of the Peanut name demands.
This is the thought that stopped me in my tracks. Because I have a pretty good hunch what the Peanut family is up to, and it makes me long for the day when the top hat was king.