Blog of an aspiring foodie

PB

Posted by beer_chris on 21-February-2007

One of my favorite foods has been in the news lately. In doing a bit of research on the topic, I've found out some interesting things. While most of us (at least those of us that were schooled since the creation of Black History Month) would associate peanut butter with George Washington Carver, that's not entirely accurate. Although Carver is credited as the father of the modern peanut farming industry because of his work with peanut plants, peanut butter has a deeper history, dating back into the late 19'th century and including such American food industry icons as the cereal magnate Kellogg brothers (they obtained the first patent for a process for making peanut paste, and coined the term 'butter' to describe it).

Additionally, the 'big' brands we all know of – Peter Pan, Jif and Skippy – have all been in existence since the early 20'th century, with very little change. Skippy, in fact, was started as an breakoff from the Peter Pan brand when one of the original inventors of the process to create creamy peanut butter created an offshoot company. In fact, Skippy was the first to create a 'crunchy' variety.

Interestingly, although I am a smooth kind of guy, this might explain why I always felt Peter Pan makes the best smooth peanut butter and Skippy makes the best crunchy – they were both the first in their industry to do both of those.

All this stuff comes from a website called www.peanutbutterlovers.com

ConAgra is in a bit of trouble of late, having been forced to recall peanut butter as a part of some type of strange salmonella poisoning. More details are easily found through Google News, but the whole thing got me wondering about peanut butter and it's position in the psyche and palate of the American consumer.

Peanut butter seems a uniquely American food – although it's fair to note I've had trouble backing that up with anything beyond subjective statements. I'm pretty sure that no matter where you go, just about every American has a jar of peanut butter in their cupboard. Whether that person actually likes peanut butter or not, it's like ketchup or Worcestershire sauce- it's one of those products you just keep around for no reason at all, and at least a few times a year you buy a new jar because you've miraculously eaten all of what you had. People like me who actually eat peanut butter regularly tend to go through the stuff a bit faster – maybe a jar a quarter – but my point is that it is one of those rare ubiquitous foods.

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