Charlie Brown’s Teutonic Roots

In the comic strip Peanuts, the lovable beagle Snoopy was named for Baron Von Steuben, hero of the American Revolutionary War. The pup was originally named Steuby, but the comics syndicate changed the name over the vehement protests of cartoonist Charles Schulz.

Schulz was born to Lutheran stock in Minnesota and had a great admiration for all things Prussian. In early versions of the strip, Linus spent his time espousing the theories of Emmanuel Kant and dragging around a copy of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, and Lucy’s name was Hildegard.

These elements were changed when test audiences, less than a decade removed from World War II, deemed them “unsettling.” The strip was also retitled Peanuts in place of Schulz’s original choice, Triumph of the Little People.

Schroeder’s obsessive devotion with Wagner was softened to a love of Beethoven, and Schulz was also asked to remove the umlaut from “Schröeder.” (The cartoonist silently protested these decisions by switching Schroeder’s instrument from a regular-sized concert grand to a toy piano.)

Charlie Brown’s younger sister Sally is, of course, a tribute to propaganda broadcaster Axis Sally. There is no truth to the rumor that Charlie Brown’s name was originally spelled Braun, or that Sally’s original name was Eva.

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