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PB&J: The Childhood Favorite Grows Up

August 14, 2018, 11:00 AM HST (Updated August 14, 2018, 9:09 AM)
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The chocolate dipped raspberry PB&J—peanut butter, raspberry preserves, fresh raspberries filled with whipped cream and a chocolate drizzle. PC: Karen Rose

There’s nothing quite like a PB&J sandwich to illustrate the harmonious relationship between foods.

The saying, “You’re the peanut butter to my jelly,” perfectly compares the bonds of friendship to the lifelong marriage between these two popular edible spreads.

While the attractive simplicity of this brilliant culinary creation is appealing in and of itself, it’s fun to bust out the creative energy and spice up this childhood favorite with some gourmet twists.

Grilled PB and maple bacon jelly. PC: Karen Rose

Before we put on our fancy chef pants, let’s take a look at the history of one of America’s favorite lunch box filler.

Peanut butter was invented in the late 19th century and became a popular treat in 1893 at the Chicago World’s Fair.

When sliced bread was introduced to the public in the 1920’s, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich began its journey on becoming an everyday favorite.

PB and strawberry preserves with fresh sliced strawberries. PC: Karen Rose

In the 1900’s, peanut butter was served at high society teas in New York City and was considered a delicacy. Tea rooms and coffee houses would dress up their peanut butter sandwiches with such ingredients as watercress and pimentos. Peanut butter was the perfect amiable companion for a variety of pairings.

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When the price of peanut butter began to decline, manufacturers started marketing the spread to children. As a result, sugar was added to make it more appealing to a younger pallet. The added sweetness and the pre-sliced bread, meant children could make their own lunches. The low price point and high nutrition resulted in peanut butter sandwiches becoming one of the most popular creations during the Great Depression.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie PB&J peanut butter with paper thin sliced green apple, cinnamon and caramel drizzle. PC: Karen Rose

Today, the popular PB&J has grown up. With an endless number of new variations, this delicious perfection now appeals to more people than ever. With a little imagination and your favorite flavors, the PB&J may just make its way back into your lunchbox.

There are numerous ways to upgrade your PB&J to first class. Here are a few favorites to try. Do you have a favorite PB&J? If so, share it in the comments below!

The Hawaiian PB&J peanut butter with sliced bananas, toasted coconut and mac nuts, with salter caramel drizzle. PC: Karen Rose

Karen Rose
Karen Rose is a writer and journalist living on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. Her writing focuses on food, wine, travel, arts and entertainment. She never met a food she didn't like—except black licorice.
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