History Of The Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich

Nov 2017
FL Treasure Coast & South Central FL
In the last half-century, peanut butter & jelly has become an American icon- a true
cultural phenomenon. In fact, the average American will have eaten 1,500 peanut butter
and jelly (PB&J) sandwiches by the time they graduate high school! A staple for many
since childhood, PB&J is a revered classic. Celebrities and regular folks alike love the
sandwich, which counts President Bush, The Backstreet Boys and Chef Emeril Lagasse
among its biggest fans.
Food historians do not know exactly when the peanut butter and jelly sandwich was first
prepared, and there have been no advertisements or mentions of PB&J before the 1940s.
Peanut butter wasn't invented until 1890, and it became a hit at the 1904 World's Fair in
St. Louis. During the 1920s and 1930s, commercial brands of peanut butter such as Peter
Pan and Skippy were introduced. Around the same time, pre-sliced bread became
common in the U.S. However, there's no mention of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
before the 1940s.
It is known, however, that both peanut butter and jelly were on the U.S. Military ration
menus in World War II, and some have suggested that the GIs added jelly to their peanut
butter to make it taste better. It was an instant hit and returning GIs made peanut butter
and jelly sales soar in the U.S.
Food rationing on the homefront may have contributed to the combination's popularity as
well. Meat and butter were scarce and expensive in the U.S. during World War II. Peanut
butter was a cheap, readily available source of protein. No matter how it started, the
PB&J was a big hit in postwar America and has been ever since. Many people believe
the sandwich is popular with children because of that salty-sweet flavor. Parents
appreciate how fast, simple, and inexpensive PB&J is to make.
Preparing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a ritual for many people. The type of
jelly, bread, and way you cut the PB&J is said to be a very important part of the process.
To date, the average American household consumes nearly six pounds of peanut butter a
year. As for jelly, grape is the number one choice among most adults and children when
selecting a fruit spread for their PB&J sandwich. Following closely behind is the other
classic flavor, strawberry. In addition, most kids prefer their PB&J without a crust. One
in four parents reports their kids like to have the bread crust removed. And, don’t forget
about slicing it! Only one in four parents refrain from cutting their kids sandwiches.
Among the parents who do cut them, diagonal (40%) and horizontal (31%) cuts are most
commonly used, however, some parents admitted to cutting the sandwiches in a variety
of fun shapes including hearts, circles, stars and animals. The habit of cutting the bread,
whether diagonally or horizontally, is all part of the PB&J preparation ritual. Any way
you slice it, the PB&J is truly an American classic.


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