Iconic East Lansing tavern feels, smells, looks, sounds, and tastes like home.
Spartan legends Jack Doyle, Matt Garver, and David E. Murley spent virtually every Monday night over the years of 1991-1993 participating in a ritualistic gathering at “The Peanut Barrel” in East Lansing known as Monday Night Madness.
Was it really just a few guys sitting at a table drinking a lot of beer with other people around?
But I’ll choose to believe that it carried magical meaning and transcendent discovery until I reach the end of my days.
I never once walked the 100 yards from where we all lived together to join those chaps on one of their Monday Night Madness evenings.
I was too focused on my studies to allow the tomfoolery to rip me away from the textbooks upon which my brain was focused.
However, as I drifted off to sleep each Monday night somewhere around 10p et, if I listened closely enough through the whispers of the East Lansing trees, I could hear the sounds of wisdom emanating from The Peanut Barrel’s Madness.
That wisdom would then inspire and move me to such a degree that I’d usually end up dreaming about achieving academic greatness as a student at Michigan State University.
Even though I never was present for any of the Monday Night Madness musings, please believe me when I say that I’ve patronized The Peanut Barrel more times than Chris Salani launched punts of less than 37 yards.
School: Michigan State
Games – 11
Punts – 58
Yards – 1916
Average – 33.0
Games – 12
Punts – 54
Yards – 1909
Average – 35.4
Games – 11
Punts – 55
Yards – 2132
Average – 38.8
Games – 12
Punts – 57
Yards – 2109
Average – 37
Punts – 224
Yards – 8066
Average – 36.0
Any time I return to my beloved East Lansing, the trip isn’t complete without a visit to the Barrel – and that visit usually occurs on a glorious football Saturday that allows for a outdoor patio session.
Relaxing in those wrought iron chairs with the ability to watch the Green & White world go by on East Grand River Avenue is about as mystical as it gets for me.
If the conditions call for indoor patronage, the jukebox provides hours of nostalgia to go along with the sawdust, the peanut shells, and the aroma of Michigan State.
The food tastes precisely as it did in 1990.
I once ate a burger while admiring a lovely mouse as it scurried right around my feet.
In 1991, I was enjoying a meal and some beverages with some of my chums after a long day of classes and I became fatigued. So, I took the liberty of laying down on the floor over the by the dart boards and captured some rest for about 90 minutes.
The wait staff brought me an inflatable mattress and some soft pillows along with a sleeping mask. Hospitality.
There was an evening when I was very anxious to view a Cubs game due to the game carrying some sort of significance.
The Barrel folks were not able to get the rabbit ears properly positioned up on the roof of the building to get WGN to come in on the tube but one of the bartenders made a phone call to a friend to see if a score of the game could be retrieved (the friend wasn’t available to answer the phone so I went without knowing how the Cubs were doing but the effort to help me remains a lasting memory).
I recall enjoying a bowl a soup once time when I came down with fever during a particularly wintry spell in 1992.
The Peanut Barrel doesn’t even carry soup – but one of the waitresses happened to have a can of Campbell’s Beef Barley in her car and the soup was heated up on the stove and presented to me with warmth and care.
Several times, The Peanut Barrel’s staff asked me to remove myself from the tavern due to the fact that I was beginning to appear as though I had spent enough time in the establishment. While my opinion differed from that of the staff with regard to how I believe I had plenty of stamina in my tank, I obliged (most of the times) due to my respect for the institution.
Do you love The Peanut Barrel as much as I do?
If you do not, perhaps you are a graduate of Purdue.
Or Notre Dame.
But if you even attended Michigan State University for a short period, odds are that you do love The Peanut Barrel as much as I do.
Jack Doyle loves The Peanut Barrel.
Matt Garver loves The Peanut Barrel.
David E. Murley loves The Peanut Barrel.
And The Peanut Barrel loves us.