It is estimated that by the time an average North American youth graduates high school, they will have consumed over 1,500 Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches.
It is a simple item that is enjoyed by the masses, spanning all of the classes. For most, it is a childhood comfort food.
Basically, it is two slices of white bread, one slathered with peanut butter and the other with jelly - primarily grape - then the two sticky surfaces join to make a delicious snack or lunch.
As a lad, I preferred my PB&J’s to be composed of creamy peanut butter and strawberry jam, on white bread with crusts removed, of course! (I have no idea why I was particular about that last detail…)
In the late 1960s my brands had to be Jiff Peanut Butter, Smuckers® Jam, and WonderBread®. In 1972, suddenly and without warning, my mother switched our family diet from what was normal (processed foods) to, ye gads, totally organic! I was totally taken aback.
The organic peanut butter wasn’t the same color as Jiff and I was disgusted to find out it separated, and needed to be stirred before being used.
Also gone was the WonderBread®. I pleaded with my mother that it “Helps build strong bones in twelve different ways!”, but she would hear none of that and proceeded to force the family to have Ezekiel® Bread, which is something akin to asphalt roofing shingles.
Over time I adapted, and now can’t even imagine even thinking about Jiff - I really adore organic. I never did warm up to Ezekiel® Bread. Perhaps when I am seventy.
It was a difficult transition, but I am glad that she instigated it. I am thankful for her foresight.
The PB&J has evolved into many different versions over time.
There is Peanut Butter & Honey, which is nice with a cup of hot tea.
Peanut Butter & Banana, a combination that is a total winner.
Then there is the “Fluffernutter” where Marshmallow Fluff replaces the jelly. I never did cotton to that combination.
All of the different PB&J’s may be served on plain white bread or good whole wheat, and may also be toasted or grilled.
Which brings us to what I consider a delicious treat, one we’ve served a few times at Brian Beal Moore Catering and is decadently delicious.
Best known as Elvis Presley’s favorite sandwich, fried peanut butter, banana, and bacon sandwiches are fun and tasty.
At a fancy shin-dig at a special art museum just off of Dupont Circle, at Twenty-first and Q streets here in the District, I grilled some up for a fancy cocktail party. The crusts were trimmed off, of course, and then the remaining squares were cut into triangles. I called them “Little Elvises”.
Boy did they disappeared fast!
Another time I “upped” the presentation to toast points, with a schmear of peanut butter, a slice of banana, and scattered crumbles of bacon. Really good too, but I prefer the original version.
So I encourage everyone to make themselves a PB&J, or their favorite variation of, and reflect on how simplicity can be delicious.