Thursday, December 7, 2006
Peanut Butter Teams With Jelly … or Jam or Honey
By ROGER M. GRACE
I will never, for the rest of my life, eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
By the end of my childhood, I had reached the saturation point.
Do you remember “aversion therapy” back in the 1950s and ’60s? You’d supply in excess, gross excess, something that the subject desired—such as one high ball after another being provided to an alcoholic—to the point that the subject would never again touch the stuff. Well, my mother, with benign intent…that of supplying me with protein and at the same time satisfying a youthful craving for sweets…so loaded me with peanut butter and jelly (actually, more often, jam) sandwiches that I can personally attest to the efficacy of aversion therapy.
“Peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches were first mentioned in print in 1940,” according to Wikipedia.com, an online enclopedia put together by a worldwide network of volunteers. That same information appears in Answers.com, Answers.yahoo.com, and other web sources.
“Both peanut butter and jelly were packed with United States Army K-rations in World War II,” the Wikipedia.com website continues. “The combination proved so popular that returning GIs made peanut butter and jelly a standard American food.”
It doesn’t happen to be true that no publications referred to peanut butter and jelly before 1940. Aside from the fact that 1940 pre-dated U.S. involvement in what was then “the War in Europe,” so there were not yet any World War II Army K-rations, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches went back decades, and mention of them did appear in print. However, once a fallacy appears on a website purporting to be a repository of facts, repetition is apt to occur, and recur, with the Internet functioning as a chamber of mirrors.
An article in the Nov. 16, 1915 edition of the Mansfield (Ohio) News, for example, recommends serving “two kinds of sandwiches in each luncheon,” one of the possibilities being “peanut butter and jelly.”
A column in the Jan. 3, 1919 edition of the Bridgeport (Conn.) Telegram advisises: “You must, try peanut butter and jelly, to know what a good sandwich filling it makes.”
A syndicated article appearing in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune on Nov. 11, 1932, mentions:
“There are pretty colored oil papers on the market with gay designs that will delight children. A good idea is to use ordinary oiled paper for the heavy sandwich, of meat or some substitute, and then wrap the jelly or peanut butter and jelly sandwich in this covering.”
“Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a hard boiled egg offer a balanced ration,” according to a Dec. 12, 1934 article in the Clearfield (Penn.) Progress.
“Peanut butter and jam”—which is perhaps encompassed in the definition of “peanut butter and jelly”—was also mentioned in print as a sandwich filling well before 1940. A 1925 ad for Beech-Nut Peanut Butter, the top of which is shown at left, urged boys to make their own sandwiches with that combination.
My wife, growing up in the 1950s, enjoyed peanut butter and honey sandwiches…a combination that also went back a ways. The Decatur (Ill.) Herald on May 18, 1931 alluded to a “new sandwich filling, peanut butter and honey mixed,” and companies around that time put out jars of that mixture.
The ultimate pairing of peanut butter with another substance is peanut butter and chocolate, destined to become a popular spread…well, maybe, one of these days.
Exh. “1” in support of this proposition is my own favorite candy, Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup. The success of that product demonstrates that peanut butter and chocolate are ideal concommitants.
Exh. “2” is Nutella, a hazelnut-chocolate spread long used on bread throughout Europe, and making its way of late to shelves in the markets here.