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%.
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…