ODE to Peanut Butter

K’Anne Meinel

I like Peanut Butter, I won’t say LOVE because love is such a strong word but I can honestly say I like Peanut Butter.

Now I realize that not everyone loves or even likes Peanut Butter like I do but I’m here to take note of that. I’ve often wondered if this is an American thing or is it worldwide? For instance, since I am an American I have experienced Peanut Butter my entire life, my girlfriend though on the other hand doesn’t like Peanut Butter but as a Brit (no offence) perhaps that’s a European thing?

Without Peanut Butter there would be no Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches (something my g/f assures me is gross), no Reeces Peanut Butter cups or Reeces Pieces (famed in the movie E.T. INSTEAD of M&M’s which was their original choice but who refused, bet there is some executive STILL kicking themselves all these years later). Also, there would be no Peanut Butter Cookies with the distinctive homemade look of a fork pressing down on the dough and across it. Then there is the matter of Peanut Butter and banana sandwiches, which I have to say I found the concept of to be gross when introduced to me by my then husband (don’t hold it against me, we all make youthful mistakes). I have found since though that it is NOT gross but rather decidedly tasty and the combination gives you a natural energy boost so don’t eat this before bedtime if you WANT to sleep. And let’s NOT forget my all-time favorite: Peanut Brittle, now that could be a whole ‘nother blog!

I know there are people who cook with Peanut Butter, I alas am NOT one of them as I don’t like to cook, it isn’t personal and I’m sure it is tasty, but as I don’t like to do dishes, so I don’t cook. There are people who like toast with Peanut Butter spread on the hot item melting it, I haven’t tried this but I’m sure it is good to some people. I like to spread Peanut Butter on celery for a crunchy and tasteful snack as well as nutritious.

Now I’d like to veer to the ridiculous a little, who cannot help but smile when you feed a dog something with Peanut Butter and watch them as it becomes ‘stuck’ to the roof of their mouth and entertain you as they lick and lick and lick to remove the pasty substance. I personally have tried this with a cat and the results aren’t nearly as amusing but I’m still appreciative when their paw gets considerable attention. Doesn’t seem to stop them from begging for their fair share regardless of the results that you both know are coming.

Let’s debate though: Crunchy or Smooth? Now I like both since I like peanuts as well. The salt on them is great! Bad for you I’m sure but oh well, we all have to die sometime right? The salt and peanut combination, who thought of this? Then there is the creamy taste of milk chocolate in the aforementioned Reeces projects but let’s spend equal time with Hershey’s and their creations, my personal favorites of milk chocolate and peanuts, mmmmm.

Now I understand some people have peanut allergies. But seriously, isn’t that a ‘nut’ allergy? Peanuts actually aren’t nuts but rather legumes. Here is Wikipedia’s version of the definition of Peanuts and my ode to Peanut Butter:

The peanut, or groundnut (Arachis hypogaea), is a species in the legume or “bean” family (Fabaceae). The peanut was probably first domesticated and cultivated in the valleys of Paraguay.[1] It is an annual herbaceous plant growing 30 to 50 cm (1.0 to 1.6 ft) tall. The leaves are opposite, pinnate with four leaflets (two opposite pairs; no terminal leaflet), each leaflet 1 to 7 cm (⅜ to 2¾ in) long and 1 to 3 cm (⅜ to 1 inch) broad.

The flowers are a typical peaflower in shape, 2 to 4 cm (0.8 to 1.6 in) (¾ to 1½ in) across, yellow with reddish veining. Hypogaea means “under the earth”; after pollination, the flower stalk elongates causing it to bend until the ovary touches the ground. Continued stalk growth then pushes the ovary underground where the mature fruit develops into a legume pod, the peanut – a classical example of geocarpy. Pods are 3 to 7 cm (1.2 to 2.8 in) long, containing 1 to 4 seeds.[2]

Peanuts are known by many other local names such as earthnuts, ground nuts, goober peas, monkey nuts, pygmy nuts and pig nuts.[3][4][5] Despite its name and appearance, the peanut is not a nut, but rather a legume.

Peanut butter is a food paste made primarily from ground dry roasted peanuts, popular in North America, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and parts of Asia, particularly the Philippines and Indonesia. It is mainly used as a sandwich spread, sometimes in combination with other spreads such as in the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The United States[1] and China are leading exporters of peanut butter.

Peanuts are native to the tropics of the Americas and were mashed to become a pasty substance by the Aztec Native Americans hundreds of years ago.[2] A number of peanut paste products have been used over the centuries, and the distinction between peanut paste and peanut butter is not always clear in ordinary use. Early forms of peanut butter, like the Aztecs’ version, were nothing but pure roasted peanut paste. Modern processing machines allow for very smooth products to be made, which often include vegetable oils to aid in its spreadability.

Evidence of peanut butter as it is known today comes from U.S. Patent 306,727, issued in 1884 to Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, for the finished product of the process of milling roasted peanuts between heated surfaces until the peanuts entered “a fluid or semi-fluid state.” As the peanut product cooled, it set into what Edson explained as being “a consistency like that of butter, lard, or ointment”. Edson’s patent is based on the preparation of a peanut paste as an intermediate to the production the modern product we know as peanut butter; it does show the initial steps necessary for the production of peanut butter.[2] George Washington Carver is often falsely credited with inventing peanut butter and is nearly synonymous with its history in the United States.

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg patented a “Process of Preparing Nut Meal” in 1895 and used peanuts. Kellogg served the patients at his Battle Creek Sanitarium peanut butter.[3]
Dr. Ambrose Straub, a physician in St. Louis, Missouri, pursued a method for providing toothless elderly with protein in the 1890s. His peanut-butter-making machine was patented in 1903.[4]

January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day in the United States.[5]

Peanut butter,
smooth style, without salt
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 2,462 kJ (588 kcal)
Carbohydrates 20 g
Starch 4.8 g
Sugars 9.2 g
Dietary fiber 6 g
Fat 50 g
Protein 25 g
Water 1.8 g
Alcohol 0 g
Caffeine 0 mg
Sodium 0 mg (0%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults. Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Health benefits
Peanut butter has a high level of monounsaturated fats and resveratrol.[6] Peanut butter (and peanuts) provides protein, vitamins B3 and E, magnesium, folate, dietary fiber, arginine,[7] and high levels of the antioxidant p-coumaric acid.

Health concerns
For people with a peanut allergy, peanut butter can cause reactions, including anaphylactic shock, which has led to its being banned in some schools.[8]
Peanut butter is a source of incomplete protein. A common combination to provide a complete protein is pairing peanut butter with whole wheat bread,[9] however, the two foods need only be consumed within 24 hours of each other to complete the protein.[citation needed]

The peanut plant is susceptible to the mold Aspergillus flavus which produces a carcinogenic substance called aflatoxin.[10] Since it is impossible to completely remove every instance of aflatoxins, contamination of peanuts and peanut butter is monitored in many countries to ensure safe levels of this carcinogen. In 1990, a study showed that average American peanut butter contained an average of 5.7 parts per billion of aflatoxins, per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines of 20 parts per billion.[11][12]

Some brands of peanut butter may contain a small amount of added partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, which are high in trans fatty acids that are thought to be a cause of atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and stroke; these oils are added to prevent the peanut oil from separating from the ground peanuts. Peanuts and natural peanut butter, i.e., ground, dry roasted peanuts without added oils, do not contain partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats. A U.S. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) survey of commercial peanut butters in the U.S. showed that trans fats were undetectable, i.e., below the detection limit of 0.01% of the sample weight.[13] Some commercial peanut butters being advertised as “natural” have supplanted added partially or fully hydrogenated vegetable oils with palm oil, which provides the same benefit of emulsion.[14][15] However, a 2006 study supported by the National Institutes of Health and the USDA Agricultural Research Service concluded that palm oil is not a safe substitute for partially hydrogenated fats (trans fats) in the food industry, because palm oil results in adverse changes in the blood concentrations of LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B just as trans fat does.[16][17] A 2011 analysis of 23 countries showed that for each kilogram of palm oil added to the diet annually, there was an increase in ischemic heart disease deaths. The increase was much smaller in high-income countries.[18]

A 1974 study found that peanut oil caused relatively heavy clogging of arteries in Rhesus monkeys. Robert Wissler of the University of Chicago reported that diets high in peanut oil combined with cholesterol intake clogged the arteries of Rhesus monkeys more than butterfat.[19] However, subsequent work has cast serious doubt on those findings. Wissler’s monkeys were being fed 20 times higher than normal dietary quantities of cholesterol in addition to peanut oil. When a similar 1988 study was performed without abnormal doses of cholesterol, no artery-clogging effect was seen.[20] In fact, peanut oil has been found to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol without reducing HDL (good) cholesterol.[21]

Peanut butter can harbor Salmonella and cause salmonellosis, as in the Salmonella outbreak in the United States in 2007.[22] In 2009, due to mishandling and apparent criminal negligence at a single Peanut Corporation of America factory in Blakely, Georgia, Salmonella was found in 46 states[23] in peanut-butter-based products such as crackers, peanut-butter cookies, and dog treats. It had claimed at least nine human lives as of 17 March 2009 and made at least 691 people sick in the United States.[24][25]
Other uses

Peanut butter cookies, a popular type of cookie made from peanut butter and other ingredients.
Peanut butter is included as an ingredient in many recipes, especially cookies and candies. Its flavor combines well with other flavors, such as chocolate, oatmeal, cheese, cured meats, savory sauces, and various types of breads and crackers.

In addition to jelly, in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, peanut butter is said by some to combine well with pickles, mayonnaise, olives, onion, horseradish, bacon, Marmite, or Vegemite in a sandwich. Elvis is said to have liked sandwiches made with peanut butter, banana and bacon while Hemingway is said to have liked thick onion slices in a peanut butter sandwich.[26]

A flavorful, appealing snack for children is called “Ants on a Log”; a celery stick is the “log”, and raisins arranged in a row along a base of peanut butter are the “ants”. Instructions for making this snack are easily found on the Internet.[27]

Plumpy’nut is a peanut butter-based food used to fight malnutrition in famine stricken countries. A single pack contains 500 calories, can be stored unrefrigerated for 2 years, and requires no cooking or preparation.[28]

By placing a medium amount of peanut butter inside the opening of a hollow sturdy chew toy, it is easy to create a toy that will keep a dog occupied for as long as an hour.[29] Most dogs enjoy the challenge of reaching the peanut butter with their tongue and extracting it.

A common, simple outdoor bird feeder can be made by coating a pine cone once with peanut butter, then again with birdseed.[30]

The oils found in peanut butter are known to allow chewing gum to be removed from hair.[31]

Other names
A slang term for peanut butter in World War II was “monkey butter”.[32]

In Dutch peanut butter is called pindakaas (peanut cheese), because the name butter was protected in the Netherlands when peanut butter came on the market in 1948. The word kaas, cheese, was already being used in another product (leverkaas, Leberkäse) that has no cheese in it.

In the 1960s, collectible glasses related to characters from the Oz Books were sold as promotions with “Oz, the Wonderful Peanut Spread.”[citation needed] The product was forced to rename itself a peanut butter when the USDA informed the company that, under food laws, a “peanut spread” has a lower peanut percentage than a “peanut butter.”

As you can see with my ‘research’ of Wikipedia, I’m not the only one who appreciates this unique substance. I hope it was informative, brought happy reading to my followers, and perhaps information that you didn’t quite know before as well as perhaps humor in the subject matter.


2 thoughts on “ODE to Peanut Butter

  1. ekisjan says:

    For years I wondered what the hell jelly was when a yankee person referred to Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. In South Africa where I am from, Jelly is the thing you usually associate with pudding. A few years ago I realized the jelly you are referring to is the fruit preservative, something we call jam.
    Either way, no matter what you call it, a peanut butter and jam sandwich remains king.

  2. Patrick Haggard says:

    Soooo glad they aren’t called monkey or pig nuts here. love peanut butter, yeah i know you said love is a strong word, but when i want a snack, i reach for super crunchy peanut butter, chocolate chips and tortillas. all rolled up in one tasty sweet bite. my ex from Australia thought PB&J was disgusting too, and i asked why? i really could not understand how any one could not like fruit preserves on their sandwich, but then, Oz and England are places where things like Vegemite and Blood Pudding are favourites and she doesn’t like PB either, so who knows.

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