When I married into my husband’s family, I was taken back by their love of peanut butter. They incorporated peanut butter into their meals and snacks in ways I had never even considered. They loved the stuff!!
I have never been a big fan of peanut butter myself, although when I was young, my maternal grandma, Grandma Maud (McDaniel) Hostetter introduced me to the peanut butter and dill pickle sandwich and I do like to have one every so often. (Try it before you knock it!)
So I chuckled when I came across the following entry in my paternal grandma’s life history. Speaking of her new school teacher, Grandma Hazel (Mickelsen) Ganus said:
“He was a tall slim man from Texas. His wife didn’t know how to cook, that evidently was his job as he came to class with grease on the front of his trousers. This made more of an impression on me than his teaching did.
He introduced me to the peanut butter sandwich. The class had gone on a picnic and he and his wife had brought some. I thought it was a poor substitute for a sandwich. But later liked it and have eaten many sandwiches made of it.”
I found it interesting that Grandma apparently had not seen a peanut butter sandwich before her Texas teacher brought it to the picnic that day. Grandma was born in 1900 and he was her seventh-grade teacher, so it was probably about 1912-1913 at the time. It made me curious about the origins of the peanut butter sandwich.
I learned that originally peanut butter was patented in 1895 as a healthy protein substitute for those without teeth, but it would take years before the process would be improved, making it smoother and tastier. Turning to the Chronicling America website, I read through newspapers published in the early 1900’s and found a variety of articles, many of which appeared to be an attempt to convince people of the merits of peanut butter. One article even went so far as to suggest it was a great substitute for regular butter in all kinds of recipes, including gravy!! Sacrilege!
Among the least appealing recipes I came across was a “Peanut Butter Loaf” made of bread crumbs, rice, stuffed olives, celery, onion juice, eggs, milk and 1/2 c. of peanut butter. It was then baked and served with tomato sauce! Various articles seemed to imply that eating peanut butter was slow to catch on and, given some of the recipes I came across, it isn’t hard for me to imagine why.
Some articles touted peanut butter as a great solution for vegetarians or those concerned with their dairy intake and one article even went so far as to call it “Nature’s Meat for Children” and claimed it to be nutritionally superior to steak.
|Vernon Parish Democrat. (Leesville, La.), 15 Dec. 1921
And with the addition of chopped dates, figs, and raisins, it was deemed suitable for a dainty sandwich to serve at 5 o’clock tea.
|The Fairmont West Virginian., May 11, 1915
Although today many people use peanut butter in sauces, cookies and cakes, the every day “PB & J” likely remains the most common use of peanut butter. While I am confident peanut butter sandwiches have many fans and even Grandma Ganus eventually ate many of them over the course of her life, it still isn’t in my top ten sandwiches and I have to agree with her initial opinion when she called it a poor substitute for a sandwich.
What do you think of peanut butter sandwiches?
Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved