Peppermint Patty

Peppermint Patty

Patricia "Peppermint Patty" Reichardt is a fictional character featured in Charles M. Schulz's comic strip Peanuts. A freckle-faced brunette, she is one of a small group in the strip who lives across town from Charlie Brown and his school friends. Generally displaying the characteristics of a tomboy, she was the first female Peanuts character to wear pants. She made her first appearance on August 22, 1966. The following year, she made her animated debut in the TV special You're in Love, Charlie Brown and began (in the comics) coaching a baseball team that played against Charlie Brown and since has had other adventures with him. She calls Charlie Brown "Chuck" and Lucy "Lucille" and is the only character to do so (although Peppermint Patty's close friend Marcie has been known to call Charlie Brown "Chuck" on occasion, she usually calls him "Charles").

Peppermint Patty's birthday is on October 4, as determined from the October 4, 1970 strip in which Patty's father gives her roses on her birthday. Peppermint Patty has also been called "Priscilla", by Marcie in the TV special A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

History of the character

One story about Peppermint Patty has it that Charles Schulz named the character after the York Peppermint Pattie, and in response the makers of the candy, Peter-Paul (later Peter-Paul Cadbury) ended up being one of the exclusive sponsors (along with McDonald's and Dolly Madison) of the animated Peanuts television specials on CBS in the 1970s. However, the York Peppermint Pattie wasn't introduced nationally until 1975, several years after Peppermint Patty was introduced (it had been previously available only in the Northeast, where the California-based Schulz was unlikely to come across one). Schulz has said in several interviews that he named Peppermint Patty after a dish of peppermint candies he had in his office, and simply thought the name too good to pass up. (He once said he originally intended to develop Peppermint Patty as a character distinct from the Peanuts strip; however, he never had time to pursue a separate project and ended up introducing the character into the strip.)

Peppermint Patty was first voiced by Gail DeFaria in the CBS specials, then by various other child actresses including Linda Ercoli (1974), Victoria Vargas (1983), and Gini Holtzman (1984 - 1985) (although few boys including Christopher DeFaria and Stuart Brotman had voiced Peppermint Patty). It has been reported, originally in The Washington Times, that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts portrayed Peppermint Patty in his all-male high school's production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. However, Peppermint Patty does not appear in the original version of the show; there is a part for "Patty", but she is an earlier Peanuts character.

Notable character traits

Peppermint Patty is noted for her persistent habit of profoundly misunderstanding basic concepts and ideas that most people would consider obvious, leading to embarrassing situations. For instance, she probably is the only character in the strip who for a very long time did not recognize Snoopy as a beagle, continuously referring to him as "the funny looking kid with the big nose". This was a recurrent gag in the strip until an incident in which Patty declared she was through with school and planned to spend the rest of her days staying in "Chuck's guest cottage" (Snoopy's dog house). By the end of this particular story arc, Marcie, in a fit of exasperation, angrily informed Patty exactly what the "funny looking kid with the big nose" actually was, which left Patty in stunned shock for several strips. In a later phone call to Charlie Brown, Patty finally accepted the truth: "Let's just say my pride had the flu, okay, Chuck?"

She also thought a school for gifted children meant that she would get free gifts if she enrolled. Likewise she once confused a dog obedience school with a human private school, going so far as to enroll and graduate with the other dogs. It was only later, when she tried to use that diploma to show that she didn't have to go to regular school, that she discovered that she had publicly humiliated herself for a meaningless honor. She is widely known for receiving a D− grade on every test or assignment in school (in 1999, the final full year of "Peanuts", her teacher presented her with a certificate naming her to the "D-Minus Hall of Fame"). In one comic strip, Patty got a Z-, which she called "sarcasm". In a series of strips in 1984, Peppermint Patty was held back a grade for failing all of her classes - only to be allowed to return to her old class when her old desk in front of Marcie started to emit snoring noises, leading kids and faculty alike to suspect that the classroom was haunted by a "snoring ghost".

Peppermint Patty's bad grades are possibly aided by her tendency to sleep through class. This was explained by the fact that her father works late, and Patty is too insecure to sleep until he returns home. In one series of strips, Marcie suggests that it is Patty's unrequited love for Charlie Brown (see below) which causes her to fall asleep. At Marcie's urging, Patty also went to a sleep disorders treatment center to be tested for narcolepsy; once again, though, it was determined that staying up too late at night, and not narcolepsy, was the cause of Patty's falling asleep in class.

Peppermint Patty hired Snoopy twice to serve as her watchdog so she could sleep better at night, but both incidents ended in disaster. The first time, Snoopy was unable to get off Peppermint Patty's waterbed in the guest room to catch the burglars who were robbing the house at that very moment, and the second time, Snoopy was distracted by the girl poodle who became his fiancee (the engagement was called off on the day of the wedding), leading Peppermint Patty to angrily call Charlie Brown in the middle of the night and demand that he come to her house to serve as watchdog in Snoopy's place. Besides guard duties, Peppermint Patty also retains Snoopy's services as an attorney, once even enlisting his help to openly defy the school's dress code. The first strip in which the character's full formal name, Patricia Reichardt, was mentioned, published 15 January 1972; her formal name appeared again at least one more time, in the 5 February 1993 strip, in which she reads to Marcie an ad she has placed in the paper:

  • First panel: PP: See Marcie? My ad is in the paper..
  • Second panel: PP: "Help wanted.. attractive young lady can't remember history dates."
  • Third panel: PP: "Doesn't understand fractions.. Call Patricia Reichardt at number below.."
  • Fourth panel: PP: What do you think, Marcie? M: You are extremely weird, sir.

Patty is also a star athlete, especially in baseball, where her team regularly trounces Charlie Brown's squad. In the first series of strips in which Patty appeared in 1966, she actually joins "Chuck"'s team as its new pitcher, relegating Charlie Brown to the outfield. However, she quits in disgust after only one game; despite tossing a no-hitter and slamming five home runs, her new team lost, 37-5, due to their somewhat porous defense.

Peppermint Patty lives with her father and enjoys a particularly close relationship with him, even though he apparently has to do a lot of travelling. He refers to his daughter as his "rare gem", a nickname with which Patty is extremely pleased. Her mother apparently died long ago, for Peppermint Patty has no memories of her. Peppermint Patty has often lamented her lack of a mother to help her prepare for skating competitions and such:

Peppermint Patty: "Skating mothers are like stage mothers and swimming mothers. They grumble and complain and gossip and fuss, but you really need them!"
Marcie: "How do they get that way, sir?"
Peppermint Patty: "Early rising and too much coffee."

A mother is mentioned over the course of the television special He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown, but Schulz has repeatedly stated that the situations presented in the cartoon adaptations are not canonical to the strip.

Relationships with other characters

Peppermint Patty's companion, Marcie, calls her "Sir" and has since she first appeared in the strip by name in 1971. (One rumor suggests that she does so because of her failing eyesight.) For a long time, this was a major annoyance to Patty, and she would continually snap at Marcie, "Stop calling me 'Sir'!", but eventually she got used to it, though she still preferred that Marcie not call her "Sir."

The first character to call Peppermint Patty "Sir" was not Marcie, but a pigtailed girl named Sophie in Peppermint Patty's cabin at summer camp, who appeared in the same series of strips in the summer of 1968 that introduced Marcie's predecessor, Clara. When Sophie and Clara (this time sans glasses) re-appeared in Peanuts in the summer of 1987, they called Patty "Ma'am", which also annoyed her.

Not until a few years after she was introduced into the strip did it become apparent that Peppermint Patty had a crush on Charlie Brown. Peppermint Patty frequently plays "lovers' games" with Charlie Brown, and gets frustrated or even angry when he doesn't take the bait. Originally, Peppermint Patty played reverse psychology; she would often say, "You kind of like me, don't you, Chuck?" when it was clear that it was Peppermint Patty who had the crush on Charlie Brown, while he not only didn't have a crush on her, he also didn't quite know what to make of her. His true love was the unattainable Little Red-Haired Girl, and having a girl actually like him was unexplored territory. Patty frequently denied having a crush on Charlie Brown at first, writing him off as too "wishy-washy" and because she "could strike him out on three straight pitches", and during a game of Ha-Ha Herman crudely insulting him when she thought he wasn't listening. Yet it was still obvious to Marcie that Peppermint Patty liked Charlie Brown as more than a friend, "wishy-washy" or not.

In one Sunday strip from 1979 (drawn as part of a storyline in which Charlie Brown was in the hospital), Peppermint Patty essentially admitted to kind of liking Charlie Brown and, in the same strip, Marcie admitted loving "Charles", so far as to affirming her willingness to marry Charlie Brown. Even this strip ended in a denial of sorts - Patty brought Marcie up to the front desk of the hospital and tried to have her admitted as a patient, saying, "I think she's sicker than he is!"

Peppermint Patty often tries to talk to Charlie Brown about matters of the heart (often depicted with both characters sitting under a tree) and even calls him often on the phone (usually taking up the majority of the conversation), but Charlie Brown usually manages to somehow evade the issue, often by simply playing dumb. Patty often grumbles, "I hate talking to you, Chuck!" whenever she tries to confide in him and he doesn't tell her what she wants to hear.

Peppermint Patty also developed a crush on Pig-Pen for a while in 1980, after Charlie Brown set them up on a date for a Valentine's Day dance. Also, in the movie Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!!), both she and Marcie were shown as being attracted to Pierre, the son of their host family in France. Pierre only returned Marcie's affections, however, a fact to which Peppermint Patty remained oblivious even when they were holding hands right in front of her.

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