Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter November 30, 2012

A friend of mine, now about seventy, has had peanut butter sandwiches for lunch for his entire adult life. Many of us — only rarely do I — have peanut butter on toast for breakfast.

Yet, many Europeans give a bit “eeeewwww” when they hear of this good ol’ American custom. How about you? Peanut butter or no? What is the best way to eat peanut butter? What’s the best peanut butter?

Anyone think Nutella is better than peanut butter?

From Jon Michaud:

Shipped off to boarding school in England during the Great Depression, the twelve-year-old William F. Buckley, Jr., was sustained by regular care packages from his father. The biweekly deliveries contained a case of grapefruit and a large jar of peanut butter. In a 1981 essay titled “In the Thrall of an Addiction,” Buckley recalled that his British schoolmates “grabbed instinctively for the grapefruit—but one after another actually spit out the peanut butter.” No wonder, he sneered, “they needed help to win the war.”

Half a century later, when I left Washington, D.C., for school in Northern Ireland, I packed my bags with jars of Skippy. Not much had changed. “Mashed peanuts on bread?” my friends in Belfast asked, incredulously—as if peanuts were synonymous with maggots. The American love of peanut butter is as mystifying to many Britons as the British love of Marmite (yeast extract on toast?) is to me, but, as Jon Krampner writes in “Creamy & Crunchy,” his enjoyable and informative new history of peanut butter, there are plenty of other countries that adore the crushed goober pea. Canadians eat it for breakfast; Haitians call it mamba and buy it, freshly pulverized, from street vendors; it is popular in the Netherlands, where it is known aspindakaas, or peanut cheese. Peanut butter is also increasingly found in the Saudi Arabian diet, thanks, in part, to expatriate oil workers. Nevertheless, it remains, in Krampner’s phrase, an “all-American food.”

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  • Matt

    Kraft PB is the Heinz Ketchup of peanut butters: everything else is an imitation.

  • zman

    There’s a restaurant in Sedalia, MO that sells gooberburgers: Peanut butter on a hamburger. I’d driven through that town for decades and never heard of it, much less tried one, until this fall. Now I’m learning you can find those lots of places. Not bad….but not addictive, at least for me. Thank you George Washington Carver for inspiring creativity!

  • Phil Miller

    I like Nutella, but to me it seems more like a dessert than a staple. The thing that’s nice about peanut butter is that it’s a low cost source of protein, it lasts a long time, and it can be stored at room temperature (well, unless it’s a “natural” type). I don’t eat it everyday, but my wife and I will still occasionally have PB&Js for lunch on the weekend if we don’t feel like making anything or going out.

  • EricW

    On warm toast, so the peanut butter softens and melts into the crunchy bread. Rye, whole wheat, white, baguette, doesn’t matter. It’s scrumptious!

  • Jonathan

    As American MKs growing up in France in the 70s and 80s, we loved peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches (like a Reese’s, but better!), but no matter if we were in France or in the US, they were hard to come by, since we couldn’t get PB in France or Nutella in the US.

    Since I’m an adult now, and Nutella is readily available in the US (the stuff we get here is actually made in Canada), I have PB&N whenever I darn well please!

  • I practically live on peanut butter- on crackers, on toast, on a spoon… I’ve always preferred Creamy Skippy, but my daughter has recently discovered Peter Pan, which is a bit creamier.

  • StephL

    Peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and Nutella, peanut butter and sliced banana sandwiches

    All good

    We could buy peanut butter in France even in the seventies and eighties when some other things Mom and Dad might have wanted to get were hard to find. But it was not hugely popular. And the PB&J combination was unthinkable (not to us, of course).

    In Germany in the eighties, we bought imported peanut butter from The Netherlands … But that may have been due to needing to buy in large quantities. Perhaps that large size container was only available as an import from The Netherlands.

  • Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jelly. I eat the on a regular basis. I can give up many things in life, but peanut butter would be a tough one to lose.

  • Have you ever had a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich? Peanut butter and chocolate– Is there anything better than that?

    I’m sort of feeling ecumenical about right now. I know that as a good American citizen we should avoid Nutella at all costs (

  • Peanut butter on Ritz crackers or on Saltines=yum!

  • James

    dump some M&M’s in a jar of half eat’n peanut putter, grap a spoon, and go to town.

  • James

    I also put peanut butter on saltines and then into chicken noodle soup. AMAZING

  • DRT

    Have moved to the 100% peanut variety, have to mix it real good then throw it in the fridge so it will not separate. I can’t eat the regular commercial kinds anymore. Also sometimes almond butter.

    Dad eats it for lunch nearly earyday.

  • Craig Beard

    YES to peanut butter! On toast from the time I was a kid. More recently on Triskets. Sometimes all I need is a spoon. As a component of a sandwich (always on some sort of hearty, grainy bread), it’s great alone, but plays well with others: jelly and jam (of course), honey (one of my favorites), raisins (somewhat akin to jelly, I guess), pickles (I prefer dills), and bananas. Though I sometimes have mine with sweets like honey and jelly, I want the peanut butter itself to contain only peanuts and salt — no sugar or other sweetener.

  • Richard Olsen

    Yippee Skippeeee!!!! P-nut butter is the food of God, I’m sure. When I’m boating or fishing it’s the sandwich of choice. Old PB & Jam sandwich.
    And, yes…the best breakfast ever. PB on hot toast dripping down your chin with every bite. As for Nutella….it’s OK but can’t substitute for the real thing.

  • StephL

    Jonathan, number five, I missed your post earlier. Peanut butter was sold in France in the seventies and eighties under the name brand Dakatine. I am sure there wasn’t loads of it on the grocery store shelves, but we always had it (in a city of a million). I also grew up as an American MK in France in the seventies and eighties. Pâte d’arachide is what it was called. It was sold in a metal can and always had a layer of oil on the top that had to be stirred in.

    About Nutella: everyone I have ever met that grew up like me as a missionary kid somewhere in Europe ended up thinking that Nutella was a product of the country they lived in. They all wanted to claim it. It is an Italian product, which makes Ben’s comments in number nine really funny. We already have lots of Italian imports among American foods. No need for a freedom fries repeat. No French connection, so you are safe. And we have sent way more McDonald’s products abroad than we have consumed Nutella products in the US. Americans are really touchy about European influence…. Even in jest.

    Nutella may be a hazelnut spread, but it is all about the chocolate, so it is not like peanut butter. I find the marketing of Nutella in the States really funny too. First, I don’t think it ever had to be marketed much in France. And second, it is all about the decadent taste, but they market it as a health food (though yes, you can put it on whole wheat bread and I am sure it helps make it more enticing to kids who don’t like whole wheat products.)

    Why not just market it as creamy chocolate and hazelnuts? That combination already exists in chocolate bar form. Then just sell people on the idea of having chocolate on bread.)

    I used to buy a tiny packet (like butter packets in restaurants) of Nutella with a mini plastic scoop every once in a great while as a kid. I would get it when Mom sent me to get bread at the bakery. I had an allowance of one or two dollars a month. I always spent it on candy.

  • BradK

    Regarding peanut butter on toast for breakfast, I am with the Europeans. But peanut butter sandwiches were very common for me growing up. I still eat them every now and again. As a kid I would eat them on vanilla wafers too. Mmmmm… 🙂

  • Kenny Johnson

    I eat toasted peanut butter and banana sandwiches nearly every morning.

  • Terry

    My Italian great-aunt introduced me to peanut butter and sliced banana sandwiches when I was about seven. I improved upon them by eliminating the bread. By far my favorite way to eat peanut butter is to have it generously topped on the banana I’m eating. Dipped in and scooped with peanut butter is also my favorite way to eat Hersey’s Kisses. I’m enjoying experimenting with peanut butter and jelly as pizza toppings and just wish that the caloric content was more user-friendly.

  • T

    Amen! PB rules.

    I had the Lance PB crackers for lunch today.

    I grew up eating PB toast for breakfast and still dig ’em.

    Love the PB&J. (Although Nutella and banana ain’t bad!)

    And . . . we can’t talk about how American PB sandwiches are without giving props to “the Elvis” (,_banana_and_bacon_sandwich) Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!

  • joey

    My daily breakfast :
    A slightly pressed (keeps it from rolling) banana with a layer of Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter With Honey (I have cases of it delivered to my house), a layer of honey (the best is from the Colorado Ambrosia Honey Company), a heavy sprinkling of McCormick’s Roasted Saigon Cinnamon, topped with a layer of ground flax seed.

  • I’ve eaten peanut butter and honey sandwiches for lunch since I was pretty young. They’re fantastically delicious. Peanut butter on a toasted bagel is also great for breakfast.

  • Andy

    Crunchy only. Mostly low sugar types. On everything – bread, crackers. With bananas delicious!!!! Will have to try with Nutella!

  • Barb

    Pb and honey every day as a child. My mom liked pb and marshmallow fluff. I think is a Boston thing

  • I saw William F. Buckley up close and personal put his ever coveted peanut butter on toast. It was a daily regimen for him. And he lived to over 80!

  • Peanut butter in my cooked oats (rolled, Scottish, Irish, whatever) with cinnamon and apples, almost every day. I need the protein, and it’s delicious (no matter what my friends all say when they hear about it). But my doctor is telling me to knock it off, or he’ll put me on a statin. Shifting to chopped walnuts, which are supposed to have the good cholesterol. We’ll see. They’ll all laugh at us when we die in perfect health.

  • Tim

    Real peanut butter, old fashioned, just peanuts and maybe a touch of salt. Organic. Best on good bread, toasted or very fresh, good also on all kinds of crackers, bagels, english muffins, etc.
    I eat PB sandwiches four or five times a week for lunch. Breakfast on fishing trips when i’m up at 4 and want to be out the door before dawn…
    A staple food for decades.
    (is there a Jesus link here?)

  • This European loooooooves peanut butter. Didn’t grow up on it, but tried it the first time I was in the states, when I was 13, and fell in love with it. I’m pretty much the only person around (other than our local American) here that does so, though. My wife doesn’t even want to try it.

    One interesting thing is how aforementioned local American initially didn’t like the peanut butter we had here. It tasted funny, she said. Turns out it is organic and significantly less processes than the stuff she’s used to back home. 99% peanuts is apparently somewhat usual over there?

  • Home On The Range

    Nothing like a pb&j at the top after climbing a 4k in the Whites…..awesomely wonderful!!!

  • E.G.

    zman #2: At a local British Columbia franchise, The White Spot, they’ve been serving peanut butter and jalapeno burgers lately. Amazingly good!

    On another note, we eat a lot of PB in our household. And Nutella too. But with all of the (some real, many likely not) allergies out there these days, making lunch for my kid is more of a pain than it used to be for me.

  • Kec

    I enjoy my toast with peanut butter with or without bananas. My girls both like to dip apple slices in PB. Another treat is to cream PB and Honey and eat it from the spoon.

  • ChrisB

    Reading through these responses shows why American food has such a bad rap. 🙂 I’ve decided Americans must come with a different set of tastebuds to the rest of us, some of the combinations mentioned are just unbelievable.

  • Ben Wheaton

    Peanut Butter and Honey on my toast in the morning and on sandwiches is the best. I have the former for breakfast as a treat, and a peanut butter and honey sandwich for a snack any time after 12. When I was in the UK, I lived off of peanut butter and cream crackers. As a Canadian, I was pleased to see us recognized for our good taste in breakfast foods.

  • Clay Knick

    I ate a lot of PB&J when I was in theological school. So much so I gave it up for a few years. But then I returned! I love PB&J and pb on crackers.

  • funny!! Do Brits still dislike peanut butter that much? I’ll have to check. When we lived in Italy, peanut butter was one of the foods that we’d stock up on our runs to Switzerland every few months, because I couldn’t find it in the groceries in Italy, then. 🙂 I don’t know if that’s changed, so I’ll have to ask the Nonni.

  • P.

    I love apple slices and organic, no sugar, lightly salted peanut butter for lunch. I always loose weight eating this. I like Nutella too, but it’s got a ton of calories.

  • steve

    One tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter mixed in glass w/ vanilla ice cream. Whip it into a creamy shake. Gooooooood!

  • Amanda B.

    Peanut butter and Nutella are both magical in their own right, but to me, Nutella is definitely a dessert and/or snack thing only, and Peanut butter is an “any time is the right time” kind of food.

    One of the best things in the world is to toast a piece of homemade banana bread, and slather it in peanut butter while it’s still warm. Heavenly.