- "Peppermint Patty, the tomboy, is forthright, doggedly loyal, with a devastating singleness of purpose, the part of us that goes through life with blinders on."
Patricia "Peppermint Patty" Reichardt is a major female character in the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. An outgoing and sporty girl, she has a crush on Charlie Brown (whom she always calls "Chuck") and is almost always accompanied by her best friend Marcie after the latter's introduction in 1971. She attends a different school than most of the Peanuts cast (other than Marcie and Franklin) and she struggles with education and homework. She lives across town with her father and stands in for good kids who live on the "bad" part of town. Peppermint Patty is loyal, courageous, and still vulnerable.
Peppermint Patty is well known for her identity as a tomboy; she often plays sports and is probably the jock of the Peanuts gang. Peppermint Patty can often be very lazy, especially when it comes to school. 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 placing her in the "D-Minus Hall of Fame"). In one comic strip, she got a Z-, which she called "sarcasm". She also finds patterns in her true-or-false tests, and often says her answers out loud ("True! False! False! True!") In a series of strips from 1984, Peppermint Patty is 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 starts to emit snoring noises, leading children and faculty alike to suspect that the classroom is haunted by a "snoring ghost". Peppermint Patty's bad grades are possibly exacerbated by her tendency to sleep through class. This has been explained by saying that her father works late, and she is too insecure to sleep until he returns home.
Peppermint Patty can be dimwitted; until March 21, 1974, she did not realize that Snoopy was a dog. Her realization came during a period when she refused to go to school and instead attempted to stay with Snoopy. During a scuffle with Marcie, Snoopy's doghouse (which she thinks is a “guest cottage”) is destroyed, and Marcie finally convinces her friend that Snoopy is a beagle, not a "funny looking kid with a big nose."
Peppermint Patty's obtuseness got even more pronounced such as when she applied to a school for Gifted Children with a big sack expecting to receive things until the school representative explained to her embarrassment the complete misunderstanding she had about the institution. Furthermore, Peppermint Patty enrolled into the Ace Obedience School at Snoopy's recommendation, took the curriculum with the other dogs and never seriously questioned why she was the only human participating in that manner. She later graduated and found out to her total humiliation later when the principal of her regular school explained what she had done. Furthermore, when Patty went after Snoopy for this fiasco, she was convinced that the ferocious cat next door, World War II, was Snoopy in disguise for absolutely no rational reason and attacked him, forcing Snoopy to come to Patty's rescue. Finally, Peppermint Patty exacerbates her stupidity from these mortifications by then stubbornly blaming everyone who tried to warn her and she blindly ignored to her sorrow.
Peppermint Patty is 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 from 1966, she actually joins his 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 loses, 37-5, because of their somewhat porous defense. In another strip she let Charlie Brown pitch the last throw of the game (Peppermint Patty pitched a no-hit, no-run game and were leading 50–0 on the 9th inning, 2nd out, 2nd strike), only to see Charlie Brown lose the game.
One of Peppermint Patty's most troublesome traits, however, is her tendency to only hear what she wants to hear from others. Oftentimes, she will ask a favor or request of someone, and regardless of whether or not they even respond in the first place, will assume they have already agreed to comply, typically because she never gives them an opportunity to respond. Such instances include when in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving she assumes Charlie Brown would agree to her offer to join him for Thanksgiving dinner. She takes his inability to form a cohesive response as an agreement. Another instance is in the TV special She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown (which is based on a series of strips from November and December 1974). While preparing for a skating competition, Peppermint Patty learns Marcie's mother owns a sewing machine and automatically assumes Marcie will be able to craft an outfit for her. Despite her continuous declarations of the fact she has no idea how to sew, Marcie is strong-armed into trying to create a dress for Peppermint Patty, which turns out disastrous.
In addition to her habit of addressing Charlie Brown as "Chuck", Peppermint Patty also addresses Lucy by the more formal name of "Lucille". This pattern of calling people by a less-commonly-used version of their name is inverted in the TV special Play It Again, Charlie Brown, in which Schroeder addresses Peppermint Patty as "Patricia". She is also called "Patricia" by her unseen teacher in France in Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!!).
Peppermint Patty has medium-length hair with front bangs. She also has a big nose and freckles. She usually wears a shirt with vertical stripes on it, pants and a pair of sandals she even walks around in during winter. She is almost never depicted wearing a dress except on one occasion when she gets involved in a figure skating competition and another when the school dress code demands it. In the animated cartoons, her shirt is green with black stripes and her hair is usually light brown. In The Peanuts Movie, her hair is colored red.
Her surname, Reichardt, was not revealed until January 15, 1972. Her birthday is apparently in early October, as the strip from October 4, 1970 shows her receiving a birthday gift of a dozen red roses from her father. The exact date of her birthday, however, is not explicitly stated.
She is a good friend of Charlie Brown (whom she addresses as "Chuck") and Marcie. She met Charlie Brown in 1966 through their mutual friend Roy. She met Marcie in 1971 when she was Marcie's counselor at summer camp. This implies that Peppermint Patty is older than Marcie, but later they appear in the same class. Given their respective academic reputations, however, it seems likely that either Marcie skipped a grade, Peppermint Patty was held back, or both.
While academics are Peppermint Patty's weak spot (D minus is her most frequent grade), athletics are her strong suit (despite wearing sandals, which might be expected to hamper her movement). In her first storyline, she helped out Chuck's baseball team, though she later got her own team. She also has appeared playing football, hockey, and figure skating. In strips from later years, she loves playing football in the rain to emphasize how tough she is.
Although Peppermint Patty has a lot of trouble in school, she manages to answer a question correctly from time to time. She first does so on October 12, 1977. Her teacher, as of December 8, 1969, is named Miss Swanson.
In comic strips from January and February 1970 and January 1972, Peppermint Patty is subjected to a new school dress code. In the 1970 strips, the school dress code forbids her from wearing her sandals. Two years later, the school requires her to wear a dress. Peppermint Patty decided to defy the dress code and takes on Snoopy as her attorney to try and fight the decision. This is also where we learn her full name (Patricia Reichardt), which she gives while testifying before the school board.
Peppermint Patty lives with her father; her mother is most likely deceased since in the strip from September 27, 1973, she tells Marcie that she does not have a mother. She is very close to her father, who calls her a "Rare Gem" as a nickname and gave her the ever-present sandals she wears.
In the strip from October 20, 1966, Peppermint Patty is said to live on Wardwick Avenue, an address which Linus has difficulty finding. Peppermint Patty, Marcie, Franklin, Roy (and occasionally "5") apparently live in a different section of town from the rest of the cast; they go to a different school, and Charlie Brown mentions that she had to walk across town to help his team.
A few years after being introduced, Peppermint Patty began to develop a crush on Charlie Brown. She often sits under a tree with him discussing matters of the heart as he manages to evade the issue. She also developed a short-lived crush on "Pig-Pen" and fell in love with Pierre in Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!!)
Peppermint Patty was used as a defender of girls' and women's sports, encouraging them to participate alongside boys and men.
See main article: Peppermint Patty and Marcie's relationship
Peppermint Patty and Marcie are best friends, who often make fun of each other. When the two friends get angry they are never seen apologizing to each other, they are just friends again the next day.
See main article: Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown's relationship
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 does not take the bait. He does like Peppermint Patty, but only as a friend (though their friendship is occasionally strained by her strong personality and bossiness toward him).
Peppermint Patty was originally introduced to Charlie Brown by their mutual friend, Roy. For a few years thereafter she and Roy would be seen together, until he was largely phased out in favor of Franklin, and then was pushed aside almost completely when Marcie became Peppermint Patty's new best friend.
Peppermint Patty lives in the same part of town as Franklin, and the two attend the same school. They are friends, and Franklin is often shown sitting at the desk in front of Peppermint Patty's. In this situation she and Franklin talk about random stuff, mainly tests. Franklin plays on Peppermint Patty's baseball team. Franklin can sometimes get tired of Peppermint Patty's tendencies, as shown on November 20, 1983, where she pressures Franklin to sit up straight so the teacher won't call on her. This leads Franklin to snap and yell at Patty, leading them both to the principal's office. Franklin then grumbles, "My mother didn't raise me to be a duck-blind!"
When Peppermint Patty thought Snoopy was just "the funny looking kid with the big nose", she definitely liked him. She got excited whenever he kissed her, for instance, in There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown when Snoopy kisses her, she tells him, "You sure know how to show a girl a good time". When Peppermint Patty finds out Snoopy is not a human, she continues to like him, but not in the way she used to. A storyline in which she uses him as a watchdog when her father is away was adapted into the special Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown.
Peppermint Patty likes Linus as a friend. However, when she was introduced, she was intrigued by Linus, wanting to meet him in possible unrequited love. Another possible hint is how Peppermint Patty consistently waits for the Great Pumpkin with Linus over the years. She has occasionally spoken to him about her unrequited love for Charlie Brown. In one storyline, Charlie Brown is sent home early from summer camp, due to the head of camp thinking he is a troublemaker because his name was mentioned at the girl's camp. Peppermint Patty blames herself for Charlie Brown's misfortune. Linus comforts her by giving her his security blanket and kissing her on the cheek.
Peppermint Patty has had little interaction with Lucy, despite them both being strong-minded female characters. This could be a result of Lucy's generally hostile and critical attitude towards Charlie Brown, which is at odds with Peppermint Patty's affection for him.
One storyline shows the two girls planning to have their ears pierced, though Lucy leaves when she hears Peppermint Patty yell out in pain. Peppermint Patty was then left with one pierced ear and she later showed her frustration with Lucy.
The Little Red-Haired Girl
Peppermint Patty becomes angry and jealous when she hears about Charlie's affection for the Little Red-Haired Girl.
In a June 1972 storyline, Peppermint Patty meets the Little Red-Haired Girl while they are both attending the same summer camp. The meeting occurs off-panel and only the aftermath is shown. In the strips from June 21 to 23, 1972, Peppermint Patty describes meeting her rival and how upset she became when she saw how pretty the other girl was.
Notes and references
- Marcie's comment "He's all yours, Priscilla." in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving might lead viewers to think this is her actual name, but Marcie was likely referring to the earlier-referenced "story of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins"
- "Comic Legends: Was Peppermint Patty Invented For Her Own Comic Strip?" by Brian Cronin, Comic Book Resources, 2018-03-19
- "How Peanuts' Peppermint Patty became a fierce advocate for female athletes" by Stanley Kay (August 19, 2016), Sports Illustrated
- Peppermint Patty's profile on the official Peanuts website.
- Quotations from Peppermint Patty on Wikiquote.