Peanut Butter and Jelly – a Marriage Made in Heaven

They say you should write about what you know. Well, here goes.

I’ve been eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for over 50 years.

According to Wikipedia, a 2002 survey showed the average American will have eaten 1,500 PB&J sandwiches before graduating from high school. (I wonder if it’s just as popular outside the U.S. – comments welcome!)

During grade school, I usually brought to school one PB&J sandwich per day. Assuming that there are 80 school days per year and that this is what I had for lunch 85% of the time,  this amounts to 1,224 PB&J sandwiches over an eight-year time period.

During my four years of high school, my typical lunch was two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (along with a pack of Tastykake chocolate cupcakes and one or two iced teas – talk about a sugar rush). This amounts to another 1,224 PB&J sandwiches.

This means that I ate 2,448 PB&J sandwiches by the time I graduated high school – and this is only accounting for what I had for lunch on school days. This is more than 60% above the national average (and likely much higher than 60% if I were to consider how many such sandwiches I ate on non-school days.)

And you can increase my count by at least one, because that’s what I had for lunch today, and what inspired this post.

I believe I used to prefer crunchy peanut butter until my mid-20s; when I got married, I switched over to creamy peanut butter since that is what my wife ate, and it was easier to deal with just one type of peanut butter.

So yea, I know PB&J. Or at least I thought I did until I read Wikipedia.

Here is some history of the greatest sandwich of all time:

Peanut butter was originally paired with a diverse set of savory foods, such as pimento, cheese, celery, watercress, saltines and toasted crackers (peanut butter with pimentos and cheese sounds disgusting). In a Good Housekeeping article published in May 1896, a recipe “urged homemakers to use a meat grinder to make peanut butter and spread the result on bread.” The following month, the culinary magazine Table Talk published a “peanut butter sandwich recipe. In the early 1900s, this sandwich was adopted down the class structure as the price of peanut butter dropped. It became popular with children as manufacturers began adding sugar to the peanut butter, and with the advent of sliced bread in the 1920s (which allowed children to easily make their own sandwiches) peanut butter sandwiches became a common meal for children.  It was not until the 1940s that jelly was added to peanut butter sandwiches. It is believed that US soldiers during World War II combined the bread, peanut butter and jelly found in their rations together into sandwiches and that their return popularized the peanut butter and jelly sandwich among the general population. Since World War II, both peanut butter and jelly were found on US soldiers’ military ration list. The National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day occurs annually in the United States on April 2.

Nutrition-wise, a PB&J sandwich made with white bread, two tablespoons each of peanut butter and strawberry jelly, provides 403 kcal, 18 g fat, 58 g carbs and 12 g protein which is 27% of the Recommended Daily Intake of fat and 22% of calories. While roughly 50% of the calories are from fat, most of them come from monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fats, which have been linked positively with heart health.

So it seems like we can thank the military for creating the PB&J sandwich, one more reason to be grateful for our veterans.

Here are some other fun facts about this classic sandwich, from the National Peanut Board:

  • Peanut butter plus whole wheat bread makes PB&Js a complete protein for vegetarians/vegans.
  • 94% of Americans have at least one jar of peanut butter at home so a PB&J is always at the ready. (hmmm… you also need bread and jelly, but this is from the Peanut Board)
  • the first known reference to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich appeared in the 1901 Boston Cooking-School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics

Another fun fact, from Mobile Cuisine, is that In 1998, The J.M. Smucker Co. introduced Goober, a jarred product that combined alternating vertical stripes of peanut butter and jelly. I think I’ve tried it once, it’s just not the same.

In a poll conducted by the Huffington Post, strawberry jelly won out with 36.53% of those questioned naming it as their favorite. Grape (my preferred flavor of jelly) was close behind with 31.15%. Following that was raspberry, blueberry, apricot, and then finally, orange marmalade. In terms of the peanut butter used, smooth is preferred by 56%, and white bread by 54%.

By the way, PB&J is somehow only the ninth most popular sandwich in the U.S., with grilled cheese ranked number one. That’s the kind of ranking that would David Kanigan happy!

And finally, to show how iconic a PB&J sandwich is, there’s even a song dedicated to it:

Funny, if you had asked me before I saw the video, I would have said that peanut butter is male and jelly is female. No idea why…


39 thoughts on “Peanut Butter and Jelly – a Marriage Made in Heaven

  1. I can safely say I have never had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and probably never will! Ha ha. 🙂 I like the song. Hee hee. I just bought a tub of peanut butter today. I use it in smoothies. I would have thought peanut butter was male and jelly female too and the song confirms it. LOL


    1. Are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches just not a thing in Ireland? Given that you have a tub of peanut butter, you’re one-third of the way there. I’d encourage you to give a PB&J sandwich a try – who knows, you might start a revolution on the Emerald Isle. Good to know it’s just not me with the male-female thing…


      1. I don’t think there a thing here! Not that I am aware of! But who knows? Ha.

        I’m not into those gloopy type sandwiches. Ewww. But I will be posting a lovely recipe for peanut butter balls that are yummy and easy to make.

        I did, however, request marmalade sandwiches as a child as that’s what Paddington Bear ate so a lot of the kids wanted that. I wouldn’t eat them now though. 🙂


  2. the peanut butter balls sound tasty, and I remember Paddington Bear’s obsession with marmalade! It seems like marmalade is not that big in the U.S., but it is in Europe.


  3. I’m somewhere in your neighborhood, Jim, and I’ll happily eat the sandwich with or without jelly. Don’t you think it’s curious there are some foods that we enjoy but would never consider eating daily? Peanut butter and jelly never gets old and is my go-to lunch move.


      1. Ah yes, peanut butter on a toasted bagel—I’ve done that many times. Peanut butter and bananas. Peanut butter with ice cream—the possibilities are endless.


      2. I don’t think I’ve ever had peanut butter and bananas. I’ve heard of that combo before. Maybe I should give it a try. And how about fluffernutters!


  4. We got given peanut butter and apricot jam (that is what we call jelly) sandwiches for school lunches. I ate these until I changed over to peanut butter and cheese – usually crunchy. Now I eat the same but with smooth peanut butter and a little bit of Bovril on Matza 🙂


  5. I am in the minority of people who have never had one in my life. I have however, had many a Reese’s peanut butter cup, and do enjoy an occasional spoon of peanut butter )


    1. I can’t imagine never having had a pb&j sandwich. But I’m with you on the reese’s peanut butter cups, especially frozen. You’re the third person to mention a spoonful of peanut butter. As much as I like peanut butter, I don’t think I could do that!


  6. Peanut butter and jelly is not a thing here in Australia. In fact, what you call jelly (I think) we call jam. Vegemite is the spread of choice for many here. I probably had as many Vegemite sandwiches as you have had PB. Though I do like PB too, just not as much. When I was starting school, I remember telling my mum that I’d have whatever sandwiches she gave me. And so I did – Vegemite every day. On the really hot days, without refrigeration, the Vegemite and butter would melt together and squeeze out between the bread. Yum. I think you have to be an Aussie to appreciate Vegemite. 🙂 One of my favourite combinations is Vegemite with a slice of cheese and then a handful of potato crisps. 🙂


    1. Hmmmm. Just the name vegamite makes me leery. 😀 But I’ve heard it’s fairly good for you. I do like potato crisps – I’m guessing that’s we call potato chips?


      1. I thought you called them potato crisps. We call them potato chips too. I think you have to be Australian to like Vegemite. It’s an acquired taste which most of us develop from a young age.


  7. I never actually had one before my aunt visited the Philippines and introduced its taste to me. That was years ago, when I was still in high school. I really liked it. It made peanut butter more appealing.

    While peanut butter is easily accessible, I haven’t really been having any PB and J’s due to the lack of jelly.

    Is jam the same as jelly? I haven’t thought about it until now…


  8. My youngest always ate pbj sandwiches until he has finally got tired of them. 🙂 Grape jelly is definitely the best and Jif peanut butter!
    Never knew about how peanut butter and jelly sandwiches came to be, that is interesting. Thanks for sharing. There are so many fun facts about things out there!


    1. Thanks, Joy. I wonder if your youngest will ever get back to them. And yes, there are so many fun facts out there, and usually easy to find. However, I’m not sure how much you can trust what you find. For instance one site said that grape jelly is the most popular with pb&j while another site said strawberry. Hmmmm….. somebody needs to look into this!


      1. LOL! Well obviously grape is the right one! 🙂
        Well when college life starts and he realizes how inexpensive pbj sandwiches are, that might be an incentive.. 🙂


  9. When I was a child to hear on US television shows the mention of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches was a total mystery. We did not have peanut butter and jelly to us was wobbly stuff we had at parties. When we went to Australia when I was eleven we discoverd peanut paste as it was called there and I have been eating it ever since. Now I try and get the stuff made ONLY from peanuts, no palm oil, no sugar. You have to give it a good stir in the jar.


    1. Your mention of jelly sounds like jello. And yes, I like the simple peanut butter as well, despite having to stir it a good bit when you first open it.


  10. I consume lots of PB&J sandwiches with brown whole grain bread. Most of my friends think I’m weird. Others have offered me ones made with regular butter too, which is gross. I’m a crunchy girl, and no palm oil either.


  11. Hubby loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Always referred to it as a meal fit for a King. LOL
    When I was out in CA as a travel nurse I brought in white bread, peanut butter, and fluff. Also brought in cinnamon swift raisin bread and a jar of Apple butter. One nurse also a traveler from the East Coast said oh my childhood memories. The staff fell in love with both sandwiches.
    Another time I brought in pork roll with buns another hit.
    Tried scrapple was not a hit at all. Gave me my first idea of what acquired taste meant.
    Also you know Mom loved her peanut butter and marmalade sandwiches.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember fluffer nutters as well. Had one again a few years ago – still tasty. I don’t think I liked apple butter. taylor porkroll and scrapple was great, but I can see how the scrapple may not be liked by everyone.
      and who could forget the pb and marmalade!


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