17 Nov 2014

PB & J: The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

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First you take the peanuts
And you crunch ’em, you crunch ’em
Peanut, peanut butter, and jelly!
Peanut, peanut butter, and jelly!

These lyrics are sung at the top of children’s lungs at elementary schools, Scout gatherings, and summer camps, likely all across the 50 States.  The peanut butter and jelly (“PB&J”) sandwich is so ubiquitous in American school lunches that it’s probably been declared an official cultural icon by someone, somewhere . It would stand to reason that PB&J should garner at least  a couple of questions on the US citizenship test, separating out the entrenched from those just off the boat.   (Europeans, it should be noted, disdain peanut butter on bread – it’s relegated to the grocery store’s Asian section, presumably for use in Thai food.)

Then you take the grapes
And you squish ’em,
You squish ’em

…Then you take the bread
And you spread it,
You spread it

Surprisingly, in the early 1900’s, peanut  butter was an uppity delicacy in this country, served in Manhattan tea houses, in line with the then high cost of peanuts.   As commercialism led to its mass production, peanut butter’s cost, and thereby status, became the every man’s food it is today. Couple that with the introduction of sliced bread in 1928, and you had yourself a nutritious marriage of convenience, just in time for the Great Depression, when quick, cheap and filling was all the rage.

What about the jelly aspect? That came after World War II, when it had been included on the military’s ration list along with – you guessed it – sliced bread and peanut butter. Upon the soldiers’ return stateside, the trifecta of peanut butter and jelly on bread became a mainstay of American life.

Then you take your sandwich
And you eat it,
You eat it

November is Peanut Butter Lover’s Month. At Rockaway Care Center, it’s easy to strike up a nostalgic conversation about PB&J, or any other use of peanut butter, be it with bananas, on celery sticks, in cookies,  as an ice cream flavor, or even just licked straight off the spoon (shhh). While you’ll be hard-pressed to find a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the Rockaway Care Center cafeteria (a fact we are admittedly unashamed of), we are in favor of the continual love of peanut butter for its health and entertainment qualities.

Peanut, peanut butter, and jelly!


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