Has Seth Godin Never Made a PB&J Sandwich Before?

Seth Godin had a post last week about the importance of doing things in the right order. Here is the post, it’s a brief one:

If you put the jelly on before the peanut butter, the sandwich will fail.

And if you try to spread the peanut butter on the plate and then add the bread, it will fail even worse.

Like so many things, the order is not optional.

And yet, we often do the least-scary or easiest parts first, regardless of what the order of operations tells us.

I’ve probably made thousands of PB&J sandwiches in my lifetime, so I consider myself somewhat of an expert.

When I started making my own sandwich, probably around 10 years old, I would first spread the peanut butter on the bread and then put the jelly right on top of it, on the same slice of bread. I would then cover it with the empty slice of bread, and Voila! I had a PB&J sandwich. As Seth notes, if you put the jelly on first, and then try to put the peanut butter right over top, it is going to be a messy affair.

However, it didn’t take me long to realize that it was much easier to put the peanut butter on one slice and the jelly on the other slice, and then press the two slices together. And Voila! you’ve got a PB&J. It was much easier to make this way, and it didn’t matter if you started with the peanut butter slice or the jelly slice. Perhaps Seth is suffering from functional fixedness, thinking there is only one way to make a PB&J.

Here’s a link to a WikiHow on making a PB&J sandwich. Even though this shows the peanut butter being spread before the jelly, you will notice it doesn’t matter which one you do first.

There was even a story and a poll about the right way to make a PB&J sandwich.

Of course, some people might have a problem with the final step, combining the two slices, as shown by this tweet:

But that wasn’t the end of my concern about Seth’s post. The next item he notes is to make sure you don’t put the peanut butter on the plate first, and then put the bread on next. Is that something he learned through trial and error? I wonder how many people have ever made such a mistake?

Anyway, it got me thinking about other tasks where the order of operation might be important:

  • do you put dirty clothes in the dryer first and then the washer, or is it the other way? Does it matter?
  • do you take a shower, and then get dressed, or do you get dressed and then step into the shower fully clothed?
  • speaking of getting dressed, should I put my undergarments on first, and then my outerwear, or would it be OK to do that in reverse order?
  • should I give my tests first, and then use the next several classes to teach what was on the test, or is it the other way around? Would my students do any better if I tried giving the test first?
  • should I think first before I start writing my blog posts, or should I just start writing, and then think about it after I hit Publish? For any of you who have read my blog before, you know that very little thought goes into anything I write…

I’m guessing Seth knows the proper order to do all these tasks in, but I just wonder if he also had to learn these  through trial and error…

106 thoughts on “Has Seth Godin Never Made a PB&J Sandwich Before?

  1. I can’t imagine putting peanut butter on a plate, and then trying to spread it on the bread. But apparently, someone named Seth tried this. I’ll bet he butters his bread before he puts it in the toaster. And perhaps he eats his oranges before he peels them. Strange.

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  2. Doing it the way you suggest would result in a half portion of peanut butter. I like to put peanut butter on both slices of bread. If I’m feeling extravagant I also put butter on both slices. If you are a poor college student, and you are looking in your cupboards and realize that you have peanut butter and jelly and spaghetti noodles the thought may cross your mind that pasta is a kind of bread, and that making PB&J pasta would be a good way to stretch your food budget. Don’t do it. It will not end well.

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  3. Oh the subjects you come up with! LOL! Yes, why would one put pb on a plate and hey if you want to put your outergarments on first and then your undergarments I think your students would be very entertained!

    Thinking before you write, who does that? Does that mean one should have some inkling of what Part 2 is going to be about before writing …to be continued..?

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    1. I always like how quickly you are able to adapt your part twos to the feedback you receive. Does that mean you don’t know where part two is going even once you have finished part one?


      1. Thank you and you are funny! I don’t even know that my Part 1’s are going to be Part 1’s at time! So no. I typically have not much of a clue where my part 2 is headed when I finish part 1. I am too busy …smacking my head… saying What did I do, by saying this story will be continued?!

        The feedback I receive may make me …smack my head… more but it does help too, I can’t deny! πŸ™‚

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      2. Glad to know that my crazy method works! Who needs to write drafts, right?
        With the “Crazy weekend” story I was planning to end it in a sweet, romantic way. And then…..Mr. Fuzzywhistle was yelling and…..the rest is history. πŸ™‚

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  4. I got lost somewhere in all of this. I would have already had the peanut butter sandwich eaten.

    By the way, I take pride in having worn my briefs over my pants on Backwards Day at School. There is no shame when you teach elementary school.

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  5. I’m probably one of the few who hasn’t made a PB&J in years. There seems to be only one reasonable way to do it — PB one one slice and jelly on the other. I tend do do the hardest parts last; so I would agree with Godin om that.

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  6. Funny. We don’t do peanut butter and jelly (which I think we call jam) here, but I do (or used to) like PB and honey sandwiches. I think either of the methods you describe as successful with PB & J would work with PB & H as well.
    I think it’s okay to give a pretest first and then teach what the students don’t know. I think it’s quite commonly done that way. πŸ™‚

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    1. I have had PB and honey before – it is quite delicious.

      And yes, pretests can be quite effective. I’m just wondering if I could just give a pretest, and no follow-up… πŸ™‚

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  7. I did a little experiment just to test your theories. Some ways were easier than others, and by far putting the PB on the plate first left me with some challenges. However, in the end, they all tasted exactly the same. Maybe when we are all arriving at the same place, it is less important the path we took to get there.

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  8. Whichever way you do it, to us it’s a repulsive combination. And if we did it with proper jelly (ie not jam) it would be incredibly difficult to keep it all in the sandwich πŸ˜‰

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  9. I love PB which reminds me I need to make some more but never had jam your jelly with it…maybe I should give it a go… it could be delicious I was taken by the jam in the image it looked good πŸ™‚ x

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      1. I suppose but there must be things we eat that you find strange I know when we visited we used to ask for our tomatoes to be cooked with our breakfast and that was strange to the server and to my family my brother in law Donny tried them cooked and loved them and now his wife has to cook his whereas before they also had cold tomatoes…. I will try them together just because when I make some more PB…x

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      2. my wife loves tomatoes, so I am sure she would not mind having her tomatoes cooked. is that the same thing as stewed tomatoes? I believe in the U.S. South, Fried Green Tomatoes are popular.

        I do remember finding the traditional Irish breakfast kind of disgusting, and I so wanted to like it!

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      3. No its not they are sliced and fried so they soften and go a little brown…love them with a breakfast :)x Very similar to a full English breakfast …I do like the American breakfasts though ..cinnamon toast, eggs, crispy bacon grits a scone although you call it a biscuit…x

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      1. Classic film from 1970 starring Dustin Hoffman based on the novel by Thomas Berger. Very funny. Committed the sin of using white actors to portray Native Americans, as was common then. The scene I reference features a contrary warrior who is the most feared because he’s somewhat crazy from doing everything backwards all his life – saying “hello” to mean “goodbye,” washing with dirt and drying with water and so on.

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