Everything You Wanted To Know About PB&J (But Were Afraid To Ask)

There are certain foods that just grab you and never let go. Foods that are simple, quick and nutritious. I'm thinking of tuna fish out of the can, macaroni and cheese, and, of course, that old favorite: peanut butter and jelly. No one knows who was the first to combine these two ingredients between two slices of bread. Bread and jelly has been with us since time immemorial. Peanut butter wasn't invented until 1890. But whoever thought up this combination , to me they deserve the honor and veneration of a saint.

I've been a fan of peanut butter and jelly since I was knee high to a tabletop. I survived the ordeal of Marine Corps Boot camp mainly due to copious helpings of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

The historical records state that the first written written reference to this snack was in 1901. By the 1930s commercial brands of peanut butter such as Peter Pan and Skippy had already been introduced. It was one of the top kid's meal during the Depression. During World War II, G.I.'s were given rations of both peanut butter and jelly, and after the war sales of both products soared.

Today, according to the National Peanut Board, an the average kid eats 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before they graduate from high school. It's understandable. What's easier than to spread a glob of peanut butter and jelly on white bread? Fast, no mess (usually) and delicious. Add to that, peanut butter is a great source of protein.

Then there's the old argument about what type of peanut butter is best. I prefer the chunky style, while my wife prefers creamy peanut butter. Really, it's an innocuous argument---they're both good. What I cannot understand are those people who cut off the crust from the sides of the bread. Where did that come from? It's like having watercress sandwiches at some fancy afternoon tea. Don't get me wrong. I like watercress sandwiches, and I'm a tea drinker. But bread without the crust? I don't get it.

Friends, I don't think it's necessary for me to put up a peanut butter and jelly recipe. Children and adults have been doing this combo for years. But, coming from New York, there is something that I really enjoy (and which purists may frown upon)--I enjoy peanut butter and jelly on bagels (especially cinnamon-raisin).

Oh, by the way, in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, peanut butter and jelly is known as a "peanut butter and jam sandwich." Whatever.

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