Peanut Butter Forever
By Fay Mitchell
Peanut butter deserves so much more than a day. It is a world food for a lifetime. If you are like me, peanut butter has been part of your life since childhood and was always greeted with glee — on bread, with or without jelly, on crackers, even in a stalk of celery. There was something comforting in its creamy, chewy goodness. I may yet spoon some from the jar.
In addition to the universal PBJ, peanut butter was a Southern favorite in nabs. First introduced by the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) in 1924, the sandwiches made of peanut butter between crackers was a popular snack for textile workers. Vending carts roamed through textile mills with crackers, nabs and soft drinks. Nabs also were popular into the 1970s for agricultural workers and were provided with soft drinks for breaks in tobacco fields and around tobacco barns during “putting in tobacco time” as they prepared the green leaves to be cured (dried in tobacco barns) before being taken to market. Charlotte-based Lance Inc. still sells nabs, but their popularity has declined. Not so for peanut butter, which first appeared in the U.S. in the 1890s as a source of protein for the ailing patients of cereal inventor John Harvey Kellogg. It was initially a food for the wealthy served at health care institutes.
Newsflash: George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter. He wrote “How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing It for Human Consumption” in 1916, thus his association with peanut butter. Wow. Another illusion smashed.
Peanut use dates to the Aztecs and Incas and probably originated in Peru or Brazil. Spanish New World conquistadors took peanuts back to Spain, traders and explorers took them to Asia and Africa and they were brought with enslaved Africans to North America in the 1700s. There is evidence that the Inca were the first to grind peanuts to make peanut butter. Peanut butter was widely introduced to America at the 1904 World’s Fair and indeed is yet a foodstuff for the world.
Americans love peanuts and peanut butter and consume 700 million pounds of peanut butter each year, more than in any other nation. The pandemic led to increased consumption of both. Regarding calories, a quarter cup of peanuts has 207 calories and 3.5 ounces of creamy peanut butter has 588 calories. Peanut butter is a good source of protein, fiber, copper, Vitamins B3 and B6, Vitamin E, Niacin, and Manganese. It has lots of fat and a bit of sugar. I choose to concentrate on the good parts. Not being a kid anymore, I cut back a lot on consuming peanut butter, peanut butter cookies, peanut butter cups, peanut brittle, and other peanut butter favorites.
But I also gave myself an “all food is fair” pass for Christmas. Someone brought over peanut brittle. I made peanut butter cookies. I went to the cheesecake place for dinner, and what the heck, let’s have a slice of Adam’s Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple. It was divine. Being a Weight Watchers lifetime member, I had to see how bad it was. My daily limit is about 30 points. My worse day over was Christmas with 94 points. That delicious slice of cheesecake was 61 points, bringing my daily total to a gut busting 142. I tell myself it was worth it as I try to recover from all of it. Regardless of the cost, there will always be a place on my plate for peanut butter.