Like most American families, mine grew up nibbling on potato chips, pretzels, and Cheez Curls. Our neighbors, however, munched on peanuts. Lots of them. Every horizontal surface in their home held a bowlful of goobers. These were odd little legumes, with but one nut per shell, rarely two and never a triple. The Franklin family grew them in their back-yard garden, while the rest of us raised tomatoes. Years later I learned that this crop, strange for our latitude, was a family tradition stretching back many generations.
The Franklins were direct descendants of a runaway plantation slave who had traveled the Underground Railroad. His antebellum snack, cheap and nutritious, shared that historic journey North. Dutifully, he and then his children and grandchildren planted and harvested nuts for well over a century. Without doubt, the Franklin and peanut genetic stock was as tightly intertwined as a DNA double helix.