If you’re a kid in the U.S., chances are your mom packed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in your lunchbox. Peanut butter was easy on the pocketbook, held up in most locker and backpack situations and even survived an accidental smooshing or two. A 20th century invention, peanut butter and jelly was first mentioned in a 1901 issue of The Boston Cooking School’s magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics but at the time was referred to as “peanut paste”. In the Great Depression, peanut butter was cheap and accessible and during WWII was placed on soldier’s ration lists which explains why, afterwards, peanut butter surged in popularity.
Certainly, there is a nostalgic appeal to peanut butter and jelly but consumers have very real preferences on the construction of the sandwich and its ingredients. Sixty percent of Americans prefer creamy peanut butter to crunchy and many agree that for the classic sandwich, jam is better than jelly.1 As far as construction, while many spread the peanut butter first and then top with the jelly, we are partial to Bon Appetit’s expert suggestion of applying peanut butter to one side of each piece bread and applying the jam or jelly to only one side, thereby avoiding the possibility of a mushy sandwich.
Peanut butter and jelly is making waves in packaged goods and on restaurant menus alike and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. Here are some concepts that will be in consumer shopping carts and some PB&J-centric places we hope to visit.
Spotted and Seen
Oreos – The most recent addition to a long line of new and fun Oreo flavors, we are happy that peanut butter and jelly is finally here. The flavors are on point and the pairing with the chocolate cookies is the perfect finish. Bring on a Golden PBJ version- pretty please?
Hershey/Krispy Kreme – A veritable sweet dream team, Krispy Kreme has partnered with Hershey’s to create a limited time offering peanut butter doughnut. A chocolate dipped donut is topped with peanut butter and mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips and filled with Reese’s peanut butter cream filling. Donuts AND chocolate AND peanut butter? Hat trick!
Drunk Jelly – For the adult PBJ, Drunk Jelly has created 7 varieties of wine jellies from Pinot Grigio to Rosé. These non-alcoholic jellies bring an upscale flavor profile to ladies’ lunches and late-night peanut butter sammies. We bet they’d be amazing in a Christmas thumbprint cookie but order soon as there is always a waitlist.
Firebox Peanut Butter and Jelly Old Fashioned – Warm bourbon with notes of peanut butter and raspberry jam are a cocktail dream come true and Firebox tops each bottle with a raspberry-scented wax seal. With this attention to detail, this bottle would make the perfect birthday gift for a childhood friend.
Restaurants / Festivals
L.A. – Adam Fleischman has dedicated an outpost in L.A.’s Grand Central Market around peanut butter and jelly aptly named PBJ.LA. The menu is an homage to the tried-and-true, serving up classics like uncrustable inspired sandwiches with pbj sealed inside. A new school version substitutes almond butter but it’s the unique combos in some of the other sandwiches that have our mouths watering. The Italian marries a Basil Cherry Tomato jam with a toasted pine nut butter while an espresso-based peanut butter is the foundation for a smattering of dark chocolate raspberry jam in the Red Eye. And the Indian inspired sandwich calls on curried cashew butter and mango chutney. Call Mom and tell her she’s met her match.
Chicago – Check out Chicago magazine’s article on local restaurants featuring this nostalgically classic combo. We’ll have the peanut infused gin and jam infused Campari at Il Porcellino with a big helping of the deep-fried chicken wings smothered in peanut sauce and raspberry chipotle dip at Jake Mellnick’s Corner Tap. YUM.
Pittsburgh – Peanut Butter and Jelly Time, with more of a classic menu, boasts the Buttercup featuring home state Hershey’s chocolate spread. Shhhh….be sure to check out the secret menu to read about the Five Stack Supreme. A grilled sandwich showcasing FIVE layers of spreads including Reese’s Peanut Butter, marshmallow fluff, cookie butter, strawberry jam, cream cheese, fresh fruit topped with a Nutella caramel glaze. Fill us up, Buttercup.
Brundige, Alabama – October 28, 2017 will see the Brundige annual PB festival. With two factories in town that made PB until the 1960’s, the town pays tribute to the great stuff that made it. If you get a chance, visit to see Alabama’s largest PB&J sandwich
Charleston – Top Chef judge Gail Simmons became a beer lover thanks to Edmund’s Oast’s on tap peanut butter and jelly beer. The eatery can’t keep the beer in stock due to its popularity and customers might threaten to boycott if it was ever 86’d from the menu.
Finally, we loved hearing about Soul Food USA’s 1st Annual Peanut Butter and Jelly Ball in Salt Lake City. The charity serves the city’s homeless and hungry one peanut butter and jelly sandwich at a time and has served over 80,000 sandwiches since 2011 with a hug and a sticker that says, “you matter.” Talk about spreading the love.
For your next PBJ application, give our Miso Fig Spread a try or contact our PB&J loving technical specialists for some assistance. We’re always here to help.