Today we had a sticky dilemma: should we pay homage to peanut butter or fruit compote? It’s Friday and we’ve got plans tonight, so we decided to go the easy route. Besides, January 24 was a dual food holiday, but we chose lobster thermidor over peanut butter then. Today makes up for it. Happy Peanut Butter Lover’s Day!
(The other holiday was just Peanut Butter Day. Today is more special. Like Virginia, it’s for LOVERS).
Then again, Tara doesn’t exactly “love” peanut butter, but that’s just a small technicality…
Several people claim to have invented peanut butter, but the Aztecs were the first to turn peanuts into paste, around 950 B.C. Boy, those guys had their hands in a lot of early foods, didn’t they? We can thank John Harvey Kellogg, the cereal baron, for attempting to modernize peanut butter: in 1895 he patented a process for creating peanut butter out of raw peanuts. He served this early version to patients at his sanatorium in Battle Creek, Michigan. “They’re gr-r-reat!!” these patients declared, but they were talking about Frosted Flakes. Kellogg’s nuts were steamed instead of roasted, which sounds painful and translated into a rather bland flavor profile. Dr. Ambrose Straub invented a better peanut butter making machine in 1903. In 1922 a chemist named Joseph Rosefield developed a process for making peanut butter that was smooth and creamy, and would keep fresh for a year. He sold his invention to Swift & Company, who changed their name soon after to Peter Pan. A few years later he was like, what have I done, this invention is a goldmine, and started his own company, Skippy, in 1932. In 1934 he created the first chunky peanut butter. In 1958 Procter & Gamble got in on the action by introducing Jif; now they operate the world’s largest peanut butter plant, churning out 250,000 jars a day.
Fun fact: a slang term for peanut butter during World War II was “monkey butter.” Whoever came up with that was bananas.
Today was a rare challenge that Tara and I completed separately, due to time constraints and work schedules. I had a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch (Extra Crunchy Skippy – thank you, Mr. Rosefield!), while she indulged in a Reese’s peanut butter-filled chocolate egg.