While I’m not in any recognized self-help program, I do realize that I am, and have been, a confirmed peanut butter addict. My dear mother probably didn’t realize that her simple act of making something for my brown paper bag lunch could lead me to a lifelong quest for more.
In my formative years I had to have my peanut butter and concord jelly sandwich on the ubiquitous white bread. I allowed no deviations. Mom never argued; peanut butter and jelly was cheaper than baloney.
Later, when it wasn’t sandwiches, it was baking peanut butter cookies. Every Saturday you could find my sister Maggie and me in the kitchen joyfully mixing and stirring and sampling. In those days no one warned us that eating cookie dough was harmful.
While each generation embraces peanut butter as its own, it actually owes its existence to George Bayle, a snack maker who started making it in the 1890s. It was introduced to the nation at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.
Upon sampling a spoonful, youngsters were apt to struggle. “Thus ess stwiking 2 tha ruff of mmmy mmouff.”
Some critics put down peanut butter because of that very feature, but they are overlooking that it’s both the protein and low water content that causes peanut butter to stick to the roof of your mouth. Incidentally, peanut butter provides a feeling of satiety thus helping weight loss and management. Oddly enough, the critics miss the most important aspect of peanut butter: it’s one of our number one comfort foods.
As I grew older, I ventured from my comfort zone. I tried peanut butter with marshmallows; peanut butter with bananas; and the worse combination, peanut butter with pickles.
For a while I hid my love for peanut butter from my fellow high school teachers. Then one Friday in the lunch room I had an epiphany. The social studies teacher sitting across from me was scrunched down behind her lunch bag, but I saw a tell-tale wisp of peanut butter on her upper lip. “You’re eating a peanut butter sandwich! What kind?” I asked.
Startled, she stammered, “Peanut butter and jelly, my old standard. By Friday, I feel I deserve comfort food. It helps me get through freaky Fridays.”
I looked at her. Wasn’t that why I also brought my peanut butter favorite on Fridays? “I prefer peanut butter and cucumber myself.”
“Hey, let us in on the discussion,” demanded a fellow English teacher. We would exchange combinations and announce to the rest of the lunch room that ours was the Peanut Butter Fan Club Table. I mean the average person consumes six pounds of peanut products each year. Some of them, I fear, are secret spooners—those fans who enjoy sticking a spoon in the peanut butter jar and licking it in solitary bliss.
Old habits seem to stick, like peanut butter, for once I retired I still enjoyed my peanut butter with cucumbers on whole wheat bread. Sometimes I would be daring and have peanut butter on graham crackers. The added crunchiness is a welcome change.
Did you know that January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day? Normally I don’t watch morning TV, but on that day I heard the magic word ‘peanut butter’ from the Channel 4 news woman. “Stay tuned for a special segment with…..” I stopped only long enough to grab some coffee and then I sat down on my couch. Sure enough, a guest was giving the background of peanut butter and then she went on to demonstrate the “Peanut butter is not your Dad’s Olds.” First step in modernizing the old favorite was taking a whole wheat tortilla, placing it flat and spreading it with peanut butter. Next, take a peeled banana and place it about two inches from the edge of the tortilla. Drizzle honey over the entire surface of the yellow smile and roll up. Deftly slice the filled tortilla into mini wraps. Enjoy.
If that doesn’t peek your taste buds, here are some other new combinations to whet your appetite: goat cheese, granola, avocado, pomegranate, butter, bacon, berries (blue), poached egg or burger.
But for me, I fall under the old adage: “If it isn’t broken; don’t fix it.”
Anyway you cut it, it still sticks to the roof of your mouth.
A Midwestern by birth, but a California by adoption, author Sheila Sullivan Moss has printer‘s ink flowing through her veins. Her parents were in the newspaper business in Wisconsin.
Sheila received her BS degree in journalism and education and a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she met her New Yorker husband. They moved to California where she did PR for the Los Angeles Community College District, and The PKU Newsletter for Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
Sheila returned to teaching and retired in 1992, after more than 20 years of teaching. She has continued writing magazine articles for such magazines as Senior Plus. She also did a monthly column The North Valley Community Newspaper.
Sheila can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org