Peanut is an important oil and cash crop in China. We selected 540 peanut cultivars—released in three ecological regions of China (Yellow River, Yangtze River and Southeast Coast regions)—to examine changes in quality characters and pod yield in the last 60 years. From 1957 to 2016, crude fat, protein and pod yields in peanut cultivars increased significantly in the three regions. In contrast, the crude fat content, as opposed to its yield, did not change in the Yellow River region, increased in the Yangtze River region and decreased in the Southeast Coast region, and the protein content decreased in the Yellow and Yangtze River regions but did not change in the Southeast Coast region. Peanut cultivars grown in the Yellow and Yangtze River regions had higher mean crude fat contents, while those in the Southeast Coast region had higher mean protein contents. In future, breeders and farmers should pay more attention to high protein peanuts in the Southeast Coast region and high oil peanuts in the Yellow River and Yangtze River regions.