Why do airlines serve peanuts?

I know some airlines don’t anymore, but it seems to me that every airline either serves peanuts or pretzels as an in-flight snack. Is there some reasoning behind this, or were they arbitrarily chosen? Does salt have some sort of importance, or is it simply coincidence that both peanuts and pretzels are salty?

Perhaps because peanuts are cheap? I don’t have a specific site or study backing up this statement but if you check out the cans of mixed nuts in the grocery stores you always see the cheaper ones having a higher percentage of peanuts and in the mix. That and the peanut industry lobby is fighting to maintain their foothold.

Just be grateful that they don’t try to serve Brazil nuts instead; large tasteless nuts; might as well be made of Styrofoam.

In my experience it’s rare these days to get peanuts (presumably because of allergy fears). The most common snack bags seem to be those little cheesy biscuits.

Yes, you become dehydrated during a flight, the salt (plus fluids) helps combat the effects.

Because salty snacks make you thirsty and more likely to purchase a beverage, especially an alcoholic one as opposed to one of the free-bees. Sort of like why they have pretzels at a bar. I suppose they have done the math and providing free salty snacks is a way to generate revenue.

Also, it may have something to do with keeping people quiet and less cranky.

What? My understanding is that salty snacks make you more dehydrated, which is why bars serve free salted peanuts.

Peanuts restore protein loss from matter transference beams.

Peanuts provide a fairly dense packaging of food value compared to most other snack foods. So for a given level of snacking satisfaction, you can have small packages (space is limited on planes) that keep for a long time and don’t get crushed or crumbled in storage. Until concerns about peanut allergies became significant, they were probably the best choice by a wide margin.

They make you more thirsty, but less dehydrated. As opposed to alcohol, which makes you less thirsty, but more dehydrated.

Don’t forget the beer, six pints please.

A curse upon you both.

Back in 1972, when Southwest Airlines developed the no-frills airline concept, they called their low prices “peanut fares” – peanuts as in cheap. One of their gimmicks was to serve peanuts instead of the traditional snacks other airlines served on short flights (they served meals on longer flights.) It then turned out that peanuts and pretzels were cheap, so other airlines copied Southwest.

At one time, at least as late as the 1980s, Delta handed out Goo Goo Clusterson their flights.

I’m not sure this figures into it but eating salty snacks can lead to less trips to the restroom.

I’m not absolutely positive, but I seem to remember getting peanuts on flights before this. Of course on other airlines you got a lot more. I remember getting steak on Eastern in coach - good steak.

I suspect another reason they serve peanuts is that they make relatively less mess than other snacks. If pretzels get crushed some might fall out on the carpet, cookies too. Peanuts are less crumbly, which might reduce cleaning costs.

The thing I don’t get is the allergy liability. If school cafeterias have stopped serving peanuts on their menus for fear of peanut-juice getting into the air (or whatever reason), wouldn’t an airplane cabin be the ultimate test-kitchen for peanut-juice-proximity?

Because, commendably, they haven’t bought into the largely baseless paranoia?

So how can school cafeterias justify their paranoia? “Hmm, they claim that 1,508,908 flights have served peanuts in the past month without anyone successfully suing the airlines for endangering their lives via peanut-powder, while I feel vaguely uneasy about peanuts, so I’ll argue that peanuts are dangerous anyway”?

It’s certainly not baseless in schools, though prr’s explanation isn’t quite right. Schools are worried about contamination - school cafeterias often have 2 or more groups of kids in them per day, so if the first kid to sit at a table has a peanut butter sandwich and gets a smear of it on the surface, the second kid who sits down 45 minutes later gets exposed to it. You can solve that by having peanut free tables instead of just banning all peanuts though.

And there’s zero chance that a stray peanut will get wedged into a seat, unnoticed by cleanup crews but a sure murderer of the next hapless peanut-prone victim to sit there, his estate crouched and ready to sue the airline?

There’s the same chance that the same thing would happen in a restaurant, I guess. Though I have yet to hear of a case of someone having an allergic reaction from sitting on a peanut.

Schools are different in that they take responsibility for children, who aren’t yet able to take responsibility for themselves. When I take my peanut allergic daughter someplace, I take full responsibility for keeping her away from peanuts. But in schools, where the ratio of children to adults is much higher, they have to to the same by instituting procedures, instead of just doing it on a case-by-case basis. Hence things like having my daughter’s ID card marked “nut allergies” in the computer system, so they make sure she always sits at the nut-free table, and doesn’t accidently take a lunch or snack that’s not nut-free.