Big, fat, perfectly cooked Virginia peanuts. I’ll go out on a limb and say they’re my favorite nut ever. The flavor is unmatched for two reasons.
One, the folks who make them at Virginia Diner in Wakefield, VA, start with great peanuts: super large extra whole Virginia peanuts, the top 2% of the crop. They’re different than America’s most common nut, the runner, which is smaller, rounder, shaped more like a pea than the long, lozenge-shaped Virginia nut. (Planters uses runners, as does Snickers and most peanut butter manufacturers.) Their size and density contribute to the terrific crunch.
And two, they fry them. The diner originally made them in small batches in their french fryers right on the kitchen line. They still fry today. But you won’t be able to see any evidence of frying in your nut. The shelled peanuts look clean and blond in the tin. What’s the difference between a fried peanut and a roasted peanut? To me, the main difference is texture. To some extent you can think of the difference between potatoes French fried and roasted. French fries are crispier, with a textural pop. Fried peanuts have that same crispy, satisfying crunch. And unlike French fries, fried peanuts keep their texture in the tin.
The peanuts are salted. They crunch with each bite the way the University of Michigan defense crushes opposing squads.
Packaged in a University of Michigan block "M" tin, they're the perfect vehicle for reminding supporters of other schools that they've made a bad choice.