Welcome Jon Krampner (CreamyAndCrunchy.com) and Host Toby Wollin (Kitchen Counter Economics)

Creamy and Crunchy: An Informal History of Peanut Butter, the All-American Food

You are 8 years old. It’s lunchtime at school. You grab your milk from the ‘lunch lady,’ pay your money (2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, depending on where you live and when this event is taking place), and sit down with your friends to eat. You open your Roy Rogers (or Davey Crockett or whoever) lunchbox or brown paper bag and pull out your sandwich and unwrap it. You look at your neighbor who is doing the same thing.

Both of you are going to have the same sandwich, aren’t you?

And it’s not liverwurst.

For those of us over a certain age, if we brought our lunches to school, chances are that it was peanut butter and jelly – and grape jelly at that. Not honey, strawberry jam, or marmalade.

Why is that? For that matter, how did peanut butter enter America’s kitchens and become a ubiquitous ingredient in everything from cookies to desserts of all sorts, Americanized Thai food, and other food products?

Why is it that in Europe, Nutella (a spread made of hazelnuts and chocolate) is a huge success, whereas in the US, the peanut butter version of it has, no matter who brought it out or how compounded, been a crashing failure?

Why is it that most of us grew up eating this stuff by the fistful, somehow got to adulthood, and did not know anyone who was allergic to it, and yet our children and grandchildren go to ‘peanut-free’ schools where snack instructions are sent home yearly and where everyone seemingly has a tale of someone they know who ended up in the hospital and nearly died?

What happened to peanut butter? And what does this tell us in terms of US agriculture, the food industry, and our health?

Jon Krampner, FDL’s own bluewombat, has taken the enthusiast’s microscope to peanut butter in the US, scooping out the soft underbelly of the American peanut processing industry, spreading himself thickly over the history of peanut growing and harvesting in this country, and chewing through the sometimes crunchy (and sometimes rather sticky) information on this almost quintessential American food. A lifelong PB lover, Jon has worked on this book for six years, interviewing leading figures from the peanut and peanut butter industries, immersing himself in library stacks and the internet, making several trips to the peanut-growing regions of the South and even trying to wrap his head around the organic chemistry of hydrogenating peanut butter.

As usual, I will remind everyone that we are all polite adults here. Let’s keep everything on topic, which is: Peanut Butter!

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

247 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Jon Krampner, Creamy and Crunchy: An Informal History of Peanut Butter, the All-American Food”

BevW December 22nd, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Jon, Welcome to the Book Salon, you can wave to everyone as “bluewombat”

Toby, Welcome back to the Lake, and thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

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bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 1:59 pm
In response to BevW @ 1

Hi, Bev, and thanks. Thanks to Toby for hosting, and to Jane and FDL for giving me a political home on the Net.

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Hey, everyone – glad to see Jon here and for visitors who are unfamiliar with how messaging works at FDL, please see Bev’s instructions at the top.

dakine01 December 22nd, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Hi Jon and Toby!

Jon, I am about half way through the book and have to say, it has been an interesting read for me. I grew up in a small town in Kentucky about 35 miles north of Lexington and 60 miles south of Cincinnati and thanks to you, know now that the peanut butter I ate most was Big Top.

On page 100, you have a picture of one of the Big Top ‘glasses.’ We had a complete ‘set’ of 12 of those type of Hazel Atlas goblets which were our regular dinner glasses while my grandmother had a set of 12 of the white glasses of the same style. I also still have today one of the special glasses with the music (Mine is “Dixie Land” with the Stars and Bars on the other side)

In your research, what was the weirdest peanut butter sandwich you found?

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:01 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 3

Hi, Toby! Thanks again for hosting.

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Jon – to get started, let’s get a definition out there so that people actually know what we are all talking about in terms of what peanut butter actually is. What is the legal definition today? Has it changed over the years?

Anthony Noel December 22nd, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Welcome blue- I mean Jon :) Glad to see your book “born,” and looking forward to reading it! Congratulations!

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:05 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 4

I’m glad to strike such a rich vein of nostalgia right out of the box!

I can’t really name a single weirdest peanut-butter-and-(fill in the blank) sandwich, though: I have yet to find a food that someone hasn’t combined with peanut butter. You name it, it’s been done.

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 2:06 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 8

kimchi? :)

dakine01 December 22nd, 2012 at 2:06 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 8

(My fave peanut butter sandwich is peanut butter, mayo, and a couple of slices of deli ham or a couple of pieces of bacon)

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Aloha, BW, Toby, and Bev…! Is this the first all FDL book salon…? ;-)

Suzanne December 22nd, 2012 at 2:08 pm

woohoo! hey jon/blue and toby. jon, this book is a pleasure to read. how did the simon and garfunkel get its name?

i must say, i love the appendixes in the back of the book with your list of recommendations, notes, and a peanut butter timeline (!) — you know how i love timelines :)

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:09 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 6

To be peanut butter in the eyes of the Food and Drug Administration, it has to contain a minimum of 90 percent peanuts. That’s a result of the Peanut Butter Case (lawyers on both sides referred to it in all caps) between the FDA and the peanut butter industry from 1959-71.

When Procter & Gamble brought Jif to market it was 25 percent hydrogenated oil. The FDA said “You can’t do that.” Procter & Gamble said “Oh yes, we can” and they were off and running.

Also: if that jar contains not only peanut butter but white chocolate, dark chocolate, anchovies or what have you, it isn’t peanut butter; it’s a peanut spread. It contains peanut butter, but it isn’t peanut butter.

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 2:09 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 9

Ewww, that would be narsty, Toby…!

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 2:09 pm

bluewombat!

Congratulations, this is a great book! I grew up on peanut butter, I ate it every single day.

Alas, in my 50s I became allergic, one of the tragedies of my life. I really miss it.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:09 pm
In response to Anthony Noel @ 7

Thank you so much, Anthony. How are things going with the New Progressive Alliance?

BevW December 22nd, 2012 at 2:10 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 11

The first one in a long time. We are excited to have Jon on the salon!

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:10 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 9

Well, alright, I haven’t heard of that one :)

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Toby – re PB&Js yes absolutely, it had to be grape jelly, preferably Welch’s concord. And in our house it was Skippy.

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 2:11 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 13

From a chemical standpoint, then, Jon – are all PBs the same — if the requirement is 90% peanuts, is there a fat % requirement too?

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:11 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 10

I either eat it straight out of the jar or in a Dagwoodesque sandwich which may be my only contribution to world cuisine: pb, mozzarella cheese, sauteed mushrooms and spinach, slice of tomato, crushed garlic, assorted spices.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:12 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 11

Aloha, CT! Well, intramural or extramural, I’ll respond to all comers!

brione December 22nd, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I remember being grossed out by the revelations from more than 30 years ago (around the time Carter was president) that a lot of peanuts on the market were really old, like > 5 years old or something. And there was some problem with a mold.

Or am I just making stuff up?

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 2:13 pm
In response to Elliott @ 19

Elliott – I could never understand how the standard became grape jelly – why not strawberry jam? Or for that matter, apple jelly? The whole PB and banana thing was a complete mystery to me as a child.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:13 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 12

Suzanne!

How is your leg coming along?

And the sandwich whose ingredients I listed a few posts up is called “The Simon and Garfunkel” because it contains parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

Anthony Noel December 22nd, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Things are good, but this is about you, your book and its topic! People are always surprised when I say PB&B is my favorite: Peanut butter and (regular old) butter. But there’s something about the saltiness of the butter and how it interacts with the PB that’s just – mmmm!

And of course my cardiologist just loooooves to hear that eat them…

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 2:14 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 8

In our house, we’d make Baloney Rolls, spread peanut butter on baloney then roll it up, pretty tasty. Also can be cut for horderveys. Not exactly a sandwich tho.

Peterr December 22nd, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Jon, thanks for this book. It’s a lot of fun, but also filled with nuggets (so to speak) that make you think.

I particularly liked the opening section on “who invented peanut butter?” question. Put me down with Susan Corbett and her verdict of George Bayle. Whatever Kellogg made and called peanut butter doesn’t sound anything like what Toby is talking about at the beginning of the post here.

I also loved hearing more of the story of Alameda CA. I used to live there, and knew of its connections to the epic history of peanut butter, but never knew the details.

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 2:15 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 22

Do you talk about where the peanut was first cultivated, Jon…?

dakine01 December 22nd, 2012 at 2:15 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 21

I’ve gotten a lot of grief over the years for the PB & Mayo. One time I had mentioned it at work and gotten a lot of grief until one day one of the folks came by my desk and apologized. It seemed the night before, he had seen the “Frugal Gourmet” do a show on peanut butter and had eaten a PB & Mayo sandwich on air and said “Don’t knock it if ya ain’t tried it”

Suddenly, my sandwich choice had credibility

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:18 pm
In response to Elliott @ 15

Thank you for your kind words and I’m sorry to hear about the allergy, Elliott.

Food allergies in general and peanut allergies in particular have really been climbing. There are two main theories why:

The hygiene hypothesis, which scientists favor, say that because our world is so comparatively clean in western industrialized society, we’re not exposed to a lot of things and don’t develop resistance to them. Peanut allergy is not a problem in the Third World, and sometimes I think of peanut allergy as karmic payback for Colonialism.

The second theory, which intuitively makes sense to me, is the opposite of the Hygiene Hypothesis: that we’re exposed to so much pollution and environmental degradation and all kind of oils are used to clean machinery in the factories, that that’s the problem. But scientists go with the first theory.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:19 pm
In response to Elliott @ 19

Studies have shown that grape jelly is the most popular jelly used in PBJ’s.

Suzanne December 22nd, 2012 at 2:19 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 25

duh! i shudda been able to figure that out. the leg’s hanging in. its been such fun hanging out with you in late late night as you were writing and then getting this book published.

you did so many research trips — what surprised you the most when doing research for this book?

Peterr December 22nd, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Back when I was in high school, I was an exchange student in Germany. We were encouraged to bring a small gift from the US to our host families . . . something that would reflect our culture. I don’t remember what I brought, but a friend of mine packed a big jar of JIF.

When I saw him at school after the first weekend, I asked him how the family liked it. “They were polite about it,” he said, “but I don’t think they really ‘get’ peanut butter.”

At our school, there were a number of American exchange students, and every time my friend heard that someone was homesick, he’d bring them a PBJ for a “taste of home”.

Yum.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:23 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 20

There’s no fat requirement and doesn’t need to be one. Peanuts are 50 percent oil, so they’re 50 percent fat.

That sounds bad, but it really isn’t: first of all, the fat in peanuts is 50 percent monounsaturated, 33 percent polyunsaturated, and only 15 percent saturated. (The other 2 is “none of the above,” I guess: it’s isn’t trans.)

So the fats in peanut oil are pretty healthy because they’re largely unsaturated.

The other good thing is that if you eat peanut butter in moderation (which can be a challenge), it nukes your appetite and, counter-intuitively becomes a dietetic food. A number of years back there was a best-selling book on “The Peanut Butter Diet” for people who wanted to have their peanut butter and eat it, too.

Peterr December 22nd, 2012 at 2:24 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 12

The list of recommendations is great. It reads like the Golden Globes . . . “And the winner for best PB produced by the big three, hydrogenated creamy version, is . . . Jif!!!”

I’d love to get the tasting notes, a la wine lists.

Which of your recommended ones surprised you the most?

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 2:26 pm
In response to Peterr @ 34

Peterr – I think it’s also time based and cultural as well. My father, who was born in 1917, in New York City, NEVER ate peanut butter. PB was just not something to eat in the eastern European Jewish community. And my mom, because she was not born in the US, never ate it and never saw what possible advantage there was to it until she took a degree in nutrition – but she never served it in the house. I didn’t have my first PB and J until I left home.

perris December 22nd, 2012 at 2:27 pm

man, i could eat peanut butter and jelly sandwich for all three meals, all year long

one thing though, it had to be on wonder bread, white, for it to taste as good, now I wouldn’t go near white bread

also, I didn’t care as much for the grape jelly as I did apricot!

one thing though.

I always went home for lunch and on the rare occasion I had my brown bag of peanut butter and jelly sandwhich, the bread got saturated with the jelly and I didn’t care for it as much

also;

I put GOBS of peanut butter and jelly, man I spread that thick

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:27 pm
In response to brione @ 23

The first one isn’t right: if someone is selling peanuts more than five years old, they need to be criminally prosecuted.

The second one is right, though: you’re thinking of aflatoxin, a mold which gets on peanuts under conditions of drought stress and is carcinogenic. However, unless you have an egregious case (and there have been none in U.S. history I’m aware of), quality control standards are such in the peanut butter industry that this really isn’t a problem.

A guy who used to run the testing lab at Consumers Union, the parent organization of Consumer Reports, put it to me this way: Even if you eat a lot of peanut butter, your odds of getting cancer go from .2500 (one in four, the risk faced by contemporary Americans) to .2501. Not a big deal.

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 2:28 pm
In response to Peterr @ 36

Which version of Jif…? Creamy or Crunchy…? ;-)

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 2:28 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 31

I kinda felt my immune system didn’t have much to do of late and was kinda bored, all the cootie kids around grew up. Plus, there must be something really fundamental about the structure of the peanut protein that our immune reaction can be soo extreme so fast.

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 2:29 pm
In response to Peterr @ 34

At our school, there were a number of American exchange students, and every time my friend heard that someone was homesick, he’d bring them a PBJ for a “taste of home”.

aww, love that story

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:29 pm
In response to Anthony Noel @ 26

Your cardiologist should be happy: most of the fat in peanut butter is unsaturated. And it contains anti-oxidants.

marymccurnin December 22nd, 2012 at 2:29 pm

My hubby is almost through your book, Jon. He loves it. I am next on the list to read it.

Have you ever heard of a cho-cho? It is a peanutbutter and lettuce sandwich. My first hubby used to eat them all the time.

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 2:29 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 39

Jon – so, aflatoxin is not going to make you sick, per se, not like eating PB that has listeria or salmonella in it, right?

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:30 pm
In response to Elliott @ 27

Never much of a baloney fan myself. Plus, whenever a kid felt something wasn’t true, he’d go, “Aww, baloney!”

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 2:30 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 37

omg you poor dear!

perris December 22nd, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I wonder why I have never seen nor heard of “macadamia” butter

man I would love to try a macadamia and jelly sandwhich

also;

I don’t care what’s the most healthiest, I could not get enough of skippy super chunk

Peterr December 22nd, 2012 at 2:31 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 40

Creamy.

For crunchy (spoiler alert!) the winner is Peter Pan.

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 2:32 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 40

CREAMY, peanut butter is supposed to be creamy.

Anthony Noel December 22nd, 2012 at 2:33 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 43

I noticed that in one of your prior responses, Jon, and you can bet I’ll say so next time I see him. Though I think it’s the saturated fat in that OTHER butter I slather on the sandwich he’s concerned with :)

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 2:33 pm
In response to Elliott @ 50

We make our own at home and ours is just gritty.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:33 pm
In response to Peterr @ 28

Glad to fill you in on the history of your hometown! There’s a dark blue marble monument where the Skippy factory used to be. A retired Skippy plant engineer and manager, drove with me around Alameda, pointing out Skippy sites. When we drove up to the marker, I said that it looked like a tombstone. Without a trace of irony, he said, “It is.”

And I gravitate toward the Bayle camp myself. Have you ever had boiled peanuts? Holy jumpin’ Jehosophat!

Peterr December 22nd, 2012 at 2:36 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 53

That pretty much captures the monument, all right. “Here lie the mortal remains of . . .”

(A photo is on page 90 of the book.)

Never had boiled peanuts.

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 2:36 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 52

perris could do that with the macadamia

jrberg December 22nd, 2012 at 2:36 pm
In response to Anthony Noel @ 51

As a chemist, just want to make the point that hydrogenated peanut butter has a lot of saturated fat in it, unlike “natural” peanut butter. If it doesn’t separate in the jar, it’s hydrogenated.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:37 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 29

Yes, the Eastern foothills of the Andes in Bolivia.

They made their way up to Peru with the Incas. This is more than 2000 years ago. Archaelogists, noting the number of peanut shells strewn around old Inca sites, say they look like baseball stadiums after the game.

Spanish and Portuguese explorers took peanuts around the world, both east and west. They dropped some off in what later would be French West Africa on the way back to Europe. Peanuts became popular there and slaves brought peanuts with them to survive the Middle Passage to America during the Slave trade. That’s how peanuts got here.

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 2:37 pm
In response to Elliott @ 50

*heh* I beg to differ, M’dear, Crunchy rules the roost…! ;-)

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:37 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 30

Vindication is sweet, isn’t it?

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 2:38 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 57

Oh, I guess I got confused when I read the book, Jon – I thought they had their own ‘ground nuts’ in Africa that were slightly different.

perris December 22nd, 2012 at 2:39 pm
In response to Elliott @ 55

be a good idea, make me a fortune too, I would use the same marketing scheme as Grey Poupon used

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 2:40 pm
In response to jrberg @ 56

my father (b 1922)would tell us tales about actually having to stir the peanut butter(!)
and also walking six miles up hill in the snow to school – both ways.

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 2:41 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 57

Mahalo, I think it’s interesting that it didn’t in fact migrate northward, but, arrived by the slaves…!

dakine01 December 22nd, 2012 at 2:42 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 59

Well, I never really understood why so many folks refused to even give it a try. I’ve always told people just take one slice of bread, cut it in half thenPB on one half and the mayo (or whatever) on the other half just to see what it’s like

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 2:42 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 63

CT – makes you wonder doesn’t it? It’s not as if the people who captured and sold them told them, “Here’s a list of stuff you should bring with you and don’t forget the peanuts.”

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 2:43 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 57

It is amazing how many wonderful foods came from the New World, peanuts, potatoes, corn, turkeys, hot peppers, tomatoes

Anthony Noel December 22nd, 2012 at 2:43 pm
In response to jrberg @ 56

Okay, thanks. I guess. (You really harshed my mellow.)

Speaking of which – FLUFFERNUTTERS!!! Do you remember the jingle?

“Oh it takes Fluff Fluff Fluff
To make a Fluffernutter
Marshmallow Fluff
And lots of peanut butter!!”

Today we could apply the first line regarding the composition of any FoxNEWS cast…

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 2:45 pm
In response to Anthony Noel @ 67

lol
we only occasionally got fluffernutters, I forgot about them

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:46 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 33

Well, am thinking good thoughts for your leg. And of course, it’s a hoot hanging out with you and the Late Late Night crew.

There were several big surprises in my research: the first is that the kind of peanut used in most peanut butter now is not the same as when I was growing up in the early ’60′s. It used to be a combination of Spanish peanuts (high oil content, sweet flavor, now used mostly as cocktail peanuts) and Virginia peanuts, whose low oil content counterbalanced the Spanish.

But starting in the early ’70′s, the peanut butter industry switched to runners, which are not as flavorful, but which are prolific and therefore a bit cheaper. This was because of the development of the Florunner (so named because it was developed at the University of Florida) hybrid. Runners tend to be a bit blander than other peanut varieties. So if you think peanut butter tastes different than it did when you were a kid, you’re not a rank sentimentalist, you’re right.

The second biggest surprise was that George Washington Carver was an over-rated fraud who didn’t invent peanut butter, didn’t originate all those different uses for peanuts and wasn’t always even that knowledgeable about peanuts: he said they were easy to grow (they aren’t). He said they grow best in clay soil (they don’t).

The truth is that GWC was an Uncle Tom who was lionized by the white establishment of his day because of what they regarded as his exemplary adherence to segregation. Here’s the article that blew GWC out of the water for me:

http://bit.ly/kG7KbQ

Suzanne December 22nd, 2012 at 2:46 pm

i gotta admit i had never heard of peanut coffee… where did you learn about that jon?

Anthony Noel December 22nd, 2012 at 2:47 pm
In response to Elliott @ 68

I still buy a jar of marshmallow spread every now and then – and it’s gone about a week later :)

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 2:47 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 69

Jon – any GMO work being done on peanuts?

jrberg December 22nd, 2012 at 2:48 pm
In response to Anthony Noel @ 67

Sorry. I believe in full disclosure. I’m sure that fact must be in the book somewhere. And in response to Elliot’s stirring tale, you can still get such PB, and feel healthier. After all, prep requires an arm muscle workout….

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:48 pm
In response to Peterr @ 34

William F. Buckley Jr., as a 15-year-old boarding student in England in 1937, got CARE packages from his father consisting of grapefruits and Skippy. They avidly devoured the grapefruits, but would spit out the peanut butter in front of him. “No wonder,” he later observed, “they needed our help to win World War II.”

perris December 22nd, 2012 at 2:50 pm
In response to Elliott @ 62

I remember stirring my skippy…would be a pool of oil on top till we stirred

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:50 pm
In response to Peterr @ 36

I would say the Krema Nut Co. crunchy. Most crunchy peanut butter is really creamy peanut butter with some chunks plinked into it. But Krema crunchy (and it’s one of two Kremas in Columbus, Ohio; both are good, but this is primo) is made by a coarse grind, so it’s mostly chunks mortared together with a little creamy peanut butter (and it’s Spanish peanuts, too, not runners). It’s crunchy as crunchy was meant to be.

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 2:50 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 65

The Polynesians made sure to stock up on bananas, taro, breadfruit, and, pigs when they made their journies…!

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:51 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 37

I didn’t have my first PB and J until I left home.

Did you have to sort that out in therapy?

laurastrand December 22nd, 2012 at 2:52 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 30

Dear Dakine,
My dad’s favorite is the pb & mayo, yet none of us kids ever ate it.
For me, I love it on toast as the easiest breakfast Evah, or smeared on slices of the sourest apple you can get – and the Sebastopol Gravenstein is that apple (shout out to two sisters!).
Finally, only crunchy will do
So Dakine and Jon, regarding pb & mayo, are there region preferences that ‘Spain this?
Dad grew up during the depression as a dust bowl Oakie transplant to the SF Bay Area. Thoughts?

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 2:52 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 76

And you can buy it all the way up to the 5 pound bucket. http://www.krema.com/Nut-Butters/departments/1001/

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:53 pm
In response to perris @ 38

now I wouldn’t go near white bread

I’m with you: I make my sandwiches whole wheat bagels.

I did get a blurb from Aaron Bobrow-Strain, author of “White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf,” though :)

Anthony Noel December 22nd, 2012 at 2:53 pm
In response to jrberg @ 73

Oh I realize you CAN get it. I just don’t WANT to! Once you’ve gone Jif, trying to eat Crazy Richard’s is like chewing – hmmm, what analogy would a chemist appreciate – ah! diatomaceous earth.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Peanut butter’s greatest hits:

“Peanut Butter” by the Marathons (http://bit.ly/rgK3p), “It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time” by the Buckwheat Boyz (http://bit.ly/C2023), “Peanut Butter Conspiracy” by Jimmy Buffett (http://bit.ly/fJlXRi), and “Goober Peas,” sung by Burl Ives and Johnny Cash (http://bit.ly/8Xbnhy)

Peterr December 22nd, 2012 at 2:56 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 76

I’m a creamy, not crunchy PB fan (CT, you’re nuts, so to speak), but reading that makes my mouth water.

Speaking of mouth watering, The Kid at my house looked over my shoulder as I was reading about Jimmy Carter and the Great Peanut Crisis of 1980, and noticed the recipe for Jimmy Carter’s Peanut Butter Pie.

“Can we have it for Christmas?!?”

Peterr December 22nd, 2012 at 2:56 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 81

Amen.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:57 pm
In response to Elliott @ 41

Speaking of peanut proteins: In Thailand, peanut sauce is made by grinding up peanuts. In the U.S., Thai restarauteurs, knowing how much Americans like peanut butter, just use peanut butter.

Peanut butter uses roasted peanuts. Roasting causes the body’s defense systems to see the peanut proteins more clearly. Thai children have no problem with peanut allergies, American children do. Scientists are looking into this.

Gregg Levine December 22nd, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I grew up without any peanut butter and jelly in my lunch box–not because I was allergic (and, yeah, the rise of nut allergies has vexed me for decades now), but because it just wasn’t something our family ate. My lunch equivalent was cream cheese and Smuckers red currant jelly on Wonder bread. I remember trying Jif or Skippy once, and finding its texture unpalatable.

It wasn’t until college when I discovered Deaf Smith chunky peanut butter at the co-op, with all the oil you had to stir into it, that I could say I had eaten a whole peanut butter anything.

Personal story aside, I remember WIlliam F Buckley (apparently a pb freak) wondering why peanut butter wasn’t considered a gourmet item. He may have noted that other nut butters, like cashew or almond, were fetishized and sold at a premium price, but not peanut butter. I think I remember him saying, almost with advocacy, that if peanut butter were put in a fancy jar, it could sell for ten times the price.

So, why has peanut butter become the staple, while other nut butters are gourmet items? Is it just about supply, or are other cultural or political forces at work?

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 2:58 pm
In response to marymccurnin @ 44

Thank you very much, Mary. Despite what I said earlier, though, I’ve never heard of just peanut butter and lettuce, nor that it was called a Cho-Cho. Where are you from? What’s your take on the derivation of the term?

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 2:59 pm
In response to jrberg @ 73

good healthy point!

jrberg December 22nd, 2012 at 3:03 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 86

I realize this has nothing to do with PB, but when we make Kung Pao chicken, we use raw peanuts in the stir fry, and the flavor is fantastic. Disclaimer: I know nothing about that chemistry.

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 3:04 pm
In response to Gregg Levine @ 87

Greg – as an agricultural commodity, peanuts were what replaced cotton after the boll weevil struck, so there was a lot of supply. the other thing is that peanuts are not really nuts – nuts by themselves have a higher status than peanuts do in the US.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 3:04 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 45

If there’s enough aflatoxin in a food, it can kill you. But the quality control standards in American agriculture and food production are such that it’s almost never a problem for Americans — I can’t remember hearing of a single case.

The major brands — Jif, Skippy, Peter Pan, et. al. — have between 2 and 5 parts per billion of aflatoxin, which is almost nothing. The naturals or old-fashioned pb’s, especially those not made by a major manufacturer, are probably a bit higher, but still no problem.

Counter-intuitively (and this comes from the guy who used to run the Consumer Reports lab), the highest level of aflatoxin American consumers will encounter is to be found at the grind-your-own-peanuts-to-make-peanut-butter at the corner health foodstore, where samples as high as 50 parts per billion have been found. Even that’s not a major problem, given the quality of the American diet (at least vis-a-vis the Third World), but, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t buy grind-your-own peanut butter.

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 3:04 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 86

that is fascinating. I wonder what roasting does to the protein?

I did know that foods fried in peanut oil weren’t to be feared, I suppose this is part of the explanation

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Jon, what made you decide to do the definitive book on Peanut Butter?

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 3:06 pm
In response to perris @ 48

Well, as I mentioned, you’re ahead of the game on aflatoxin!

As to why there isn’t macadamia butter: I’m guessing it would be fantastically expensive. Almond butter is twice as expensive as peanut butter. I hate to think what you’d have to lay out for macadamia butter.

Peterr December 22nd, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Jon, what kind of reaction has your book gotten?

Historians?

PB corporate PR people?

Peanut farmers?

10 year olds?

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 3:07 pm
In response to Anthony Noel @ 51

Ah, duly noted. Still, butter is a hell of a lot better than margarine.

Gregg Levine December 22nd, 2012 at 3:07 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 91

Thanks. Yeah, I remember being very proud of myself when I learned as a kid that peanuts were not really nuts and strawberries were not really berries (but tomatoes were). So, OK, why don’t we eat more green bean butter?

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 3:07 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 92

Jon – is part of the issue with mold, bacteria, etc. the whole harvesting and drying process? I was shocked to read in the book about how long peanuts are left in the field after being pulled up before they are taken to be processed.

Peterr December 22nd, 2012 at 3:07 pm
In response to Elliott @ 94

Sounds to me like an excuse to travel the country, eat lots of PB, and call it “research”.

Dearie December 22nd, 2012 at 3:09 pm

While I do enjoy an occasional PB&J sandwich, I still think that the best use of peanut butter is in cookies! My grandma made the best of ‘em…. particularly at the Christmas Season, just for us kids. Hmmmm… I’d better get baking for my own grandkids.

Jon, congrats on the book……and what a fun and interesting salon this is.

Anthony Noel December 22nd, 2012 at 3:09 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 97

That’s what I try to tell him :)

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 3:09 pm
In response to Gregg Levine @ 98

Well, remember, Gregg – Hummus is about as close as we’re going to get to ‘bean butter’ per se and that’s only been taken up by American consumers in a big way in the past 5-10 years (when my local Wegmans has an olive and hummus bar right in the store, that means to me that it’s become a big deal).

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 3:10 pm
In response to Dearie @ 101

OK…which pb cookies do you make? the ones with the kisses in the middle?

spocko December 22nd, 2012 at 3:11 pm
In response to Dearie @ 101

I just made Peanut blossom cookies for Christmas! The ones with the Kisses in the middle!

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 3:11 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 52

Gritty is not bad. When peanut butter debuted as a commercial product in the 1890′s, there were two textures: creamy and coarse or grainy. Crunchy was first market-tested by Skippy in Salt Lake City in 1935. Jerome Rosefield, the son of Skippy founder Joseph Rosefield, thought the whole point of peanut butter was to be smooth and regarded crunchy as somewhat perverse, but he was also a businessman who felt the customer was always right.

There’s a place on the back road from Los Angeles to Oxnard that made peanut butter with a coarse or grainy texture and I loved it. But they got into a beef with a grouchy customer and had to suspend production.

Dearie December 22nd, 2012 at 3:11 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 104

Just pretty holiday sprinkles on top! The kids love ‘em. So does their dad.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 3:11 pm
In response to Peterr @ 54

Never had boiled peanuts.

Don’t hurry out to try them, that’s my advice.

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 3:12 pm
In response to Elliott @ 93

I’ll note how I came to be allergic. I was doing the Atkins diet and in the beginning you’re told not to eat any peanuts for two weeks. After those two weeks, I ate roasted peanuts instead of peanut butter because it had some sugar in it.

If only your book had come out years ago!

(I was a very picky eater as a child and peanut butter really was a great protein source for me.)

Dearie December 22nd, 2012 at 3:13 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 106

The Nut House?

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 3:14 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 108

Jon – my husband grew up in Florida and his remark about ‘boiled peanuts’ is: “Definitely an acquired tasted and for some of us…never acquired.”

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 3:14 pm
In response to Dearie @ 101

I guess it was my picky eaterness but I never liked peanut butter cookies OR peanut butter and chocolate candy. My siblings loved trading with me after we tramped the neighborhood trick or treating.

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 3:14 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 91

…the other thing is that peanuts are not really nuts…

A great point, most nuts are grown on trees, whereas the peanut is a root borne product…! ;-)

Dearie December 22nd, 2012 at 3:15 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 108

On our first trip to the beach in South Carolina from Cincinnati we saw a roadside seller calling out his product: “Bald peanuts; bald peanuts.”

We bought some bald peanuts and were amazed to find a bag of boiled peanuts. No, not something we’d buy again. Bland and mushy.

perris December 22nd, 2012 at 3:15 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 95

As to why there isn’t macadamia butter: I’m guessing it would be fantastically expensive. Almond butter is twice as expensive as peanut butter. I hate to think what you’d have to lay out for macadamia butter.

some people LOVE spending money…it would be a grey poupon type of marketing scheme

I’M GONNA BE RICK!

spocko December 22nd, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Okay, we have talked about the mold, but can you talk about the really big problem that peanut butter had, Salmonella. Does the book cover that case at all. (It was huge if I remember and it took a lot of work to figure out the problem.)

I write about food safety and I was astonished how much the FDA allows companies to “self police”

I shop at Trader Joes and bought their valencia peanut butter, but the next week they had a notice at the store that their was a recall of the peanut butter. The recall was for many brands beyond the Trader Joes brand so you found out just how many brands were all just made by one company.

Interesting side note. I think that the notification of the tainted peanut butter was poor, and that is because most FDA food recalls are “voluntary” and that it is up to the company to “alert” people. Trader Joe’s could have actively alerted me, I paid by credit card, but didn’t.

If their was stronger food regulation they TJs would have had to make a greater effort than posting a flyer at the check out counter.

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 3:17 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 95

Here on the Big Isle, where we have the World’s largest Macnut orchards, we pay $10 a pound for ‘em…! ;-)

Peterr December 22nd, 2012 at 3:17 pm
In response to perris @ 115

You’re going to be Rick?

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 3:18 pm
In response to jrberg @ 56

One of the main problems with hydrogenated vegetable oil as I understand it is that it muffles the natural peanut flavor, aroma and texture.

Peanut oil is 15 percent saturated. Am not sure how much hydrogenating a vegetable oil adds to its percentage of saturation.

There is another problem with hydrogenation that I’d like to alert FDL’ers to, though: the most common oils used to hydrogenate peanut butter are soybean, cottonseed and canola or rapeseed. Most soybeans and cotton grown in the U.S. are GMO so — as sorry as I am to have to say this — if you’re eating Jif, Skippy, Peter Pan or any pb hydrogenated with those oils, you’re eating GMO food. Another reason I eat natural or old-fashioned almost exclusively.

perris December 22nd, 2012 at 3:18 pm

for peterr

You’re going to be Rick?

you have something against Rick?

me and me typo’s :}

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 3:18 pm
In response to spocko @ 116

Spocko – the Trader Joe’s peanut butter thing is, I think, from Sunland, and here’s the latest on that: http://news.yahoo.com/feds-shuttered-nm-peanut-butter-plant-reach-deal-092118452–finance.html

Peterr December 22nd, 2012 at 3:19 pm
In response to spocko @ 116

The whole “voluntary” recall notice is akin to a plea bargain with the FDA. “You either voluntarily recall this stuff, or we’ll make a big public deal about our findings and make it mandatory.” It allows the companies to get a little bit of positive PR (“We’re on top of this”) in exchange for not having to go through the full process of forcing a recall.

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 3:19 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 119

Ah – no GMO peanuts, but GMO oils. Nasty.

Suzanne December 22nd, 2012 at 3:19 pm
In response to Dearie @ 101

and peanut butter fudge!

i’m gonna try jon’s recipe for frozen peanut butter brandy alexander’s too. he has the criss-cross peanut butter cookie recipe in the book too.

Peterr December 22nd, 2012 at 3:20 pm
In response to perris @ 120

It’s just how I roll (so to speak).

spocko December 22nd, 2012 at 3:20 pm
In response to perris @ 115

I’M GONNA BE RICK!

Someone already beat you to it.

Anthony Noel December 22nd, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Roseanne is a macadamia nut farmer now. Which pretty much says it all.

perris December 22nd, 2012 at 3:20 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 117

make some mac butter and tell me what it tastes like with appricot jelly on bread!

Peterr December 22nd, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Jon, it’s obvious that any discussion of PB — its origins, its ups and downs, its place in the culture, etc. — ends up going back to recipes and the proper accompanying ingredients (and for the record, Wonder Bread is NOT among them). You’ve put quite the book together here!

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 3:23 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 60

Some of the nuts in Africa are different from the nuts grown in the U.S. We have four kinds — runners (80 percent of the crop), Virginias (when you buy in-shell peanuts in the supermarket that’s what you’re buying, 15 percent of the crop, Spanish (4 or 5 percent), Valencias (one or two percent).

In Africa, for example, you have the Bambarra ground nut. It’s one of the few plants in the plant world other than the peanut that flowers aboveground but fruits (produces the peanut) belowground. So you’re right.

Suzanne December 22nd, 2012 at 3:24 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 119

fork…

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 3:24 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 64

Well, I gotta admit I’m not really crazy about Mayo either…

Dearie December 22nd, 2012 at 3:24 pm
In response to Peterr @ 129

Wonder Bread was always just a delivery vehicle. Easier than eating a paper plate! I left a loaf of white bread on the counter accidentally when I went on a two+ week vacation…..no mold when I returned, so I watched it. No mold after 7 weeks! I finally threw it out. I think it was the Twinkie of white bread.

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 3:24 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 111

lol!

spocko December 22nd, 2012 at 3:26 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 121

Interesting, from the article

The FDA said inspectors found samples of salmonella in 28 different locations in the plant, in 13 nut butter samples and in one sample of raw peanuts. Inspectors found improper handling of the products, unclean equipment and uncovered trailers of peanuts outside the facility that were exposed to rain and birds. Inspectors also said employees lacked access to hand-washing sinks, and dirty hands had direct contact with ready-to-package peanuts.
The FDA said it inspected the plant at least four times over the past five years, each time finding violations. Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, said the agency’s inspections after the outbreak found even worse problems than what had been seen there before.
Plant officials have said they were never notified of past violations.

I love the part about “plant officials have said they were never notified of past violations” HA! Good one.

Of course the whole, “The market can solve the problem” doestn’t talk about the poor suckers that get sick and or die. Too bad, so sad. But NOW they will lose market share.

Peterr December 22nd, 2012 at 3:26 pm
In response to Dearie @ 133

And people are scared of GMOs . . .

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 3:27 pm
In response to perris @ 115

and everyone will say
“Please pass the Perris!”

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 3:28 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 70

The recipe for peanut coffee was included in the book “Peanuts: The Illustrious History of the Goober Pea” by Andrew F. Smith, who served as my mentor on the book. I was including a recipe in each chapter and tried to make them chapter-specific when I could. I knew Skippy founder Joseph Rosefield liked his coffee boiling hot, so I thought, what the heck and threw that recipe in.

maa8722 December 22nd, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Two questions, Jon. . .

I like Smucker’s Original because it’s not homogenized and you can pour off that extra oil. Do you know if that oil is peanut oil from the nut, or is it something else added by Smucker’s?

PB tastes so much like the parent nut. But almond and cashew nut butters are really insipid, like PB without any flavor (expensive, too). Is there a reason for such a lack of flavor? The almonds and cashews, themselves, have a lot of flavor as regular nuts.

perris December 22nd, 2012 at 3:29 pm
In response to Elliott @ 137

“Please pass the Perris!”

I used to ask that from my history teacher :={

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 3:29 pm
In response to spocko @ 135

This of course is totally separate from the Peanut Corporation of America case from 2008-2009, which Jon covers in detail in his book. Off the top of my head, I can’t quote how many people became sick (I think in the hundreds) from eating PB produced by PCA, or how many people died before that was over.

spocko December 22nd, 2012 at 3:31 pm
In response to Peterr @ 122

When I was writing about the pet food crisis of 2007 I found that it goes further than that. That one of the big beef packing companies cut a deal that allowed them not to ever even NAME the delivery location of the tainted beef.

They said to the FDA, “That information is proprietary to us and we can’t let the public know.” because of this deal (and how the company drug it’s heels in, a bunch of people at a Vietnamize resturant in Truckee CA ate mad cow tainted beef.

The USDA didn’t want consumers to panic (but really didn’t want to hurt the revenue of the stories and the beef company.) It still pisses me off that the rights of the Corporation to their “PR” trumps public safety.

I mean that would be like allowing the NRA to define what is safe with reguards to guns…. oh yeah, right. Never mind.

BevW December 22nd, 2012 at 3:31 pm
In response to Dearie @ 133

Peeps – last forever

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 3:31 pm
In response to Peterr @ 136

just think of how well preserved we all are eating that “well-preserved” stuff ;)

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 3:32 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 72

Yes. Peanuts are not genetically modified now, but sadly, they will be.

Toward the book’s end, I quote Darlene Cowart, a leading figure in the peanut industry. “From a comptetive standpoint alone, our industry needs genomics to compete within the agriculture industry,” she says. “Other crops, like cotton, corn and soybeans, are much further along in their genomic research.”

Gotta keep up with the Joneses. And the sad part is, it’s not really necessary — new peanut varieties, such as the Florunner, were developed by hybridization.

grimfees December 22nd, 2012 at 3:32 pm

CREAMY, peanut butter is supposed to be creamy.

Agreed. Crunchy is an abomination.

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 3:32 pm
In response to perris @ 140

aHAHA!

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 3:33 pm
In response to BevW @ 143

Hmm Anthony – what about peanut buttered Peeps?

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 3:33 pm
In response to perris @ 75

At the risk of getting crosswise of you, might you be thinking of some other brand? Skippy was hydrogenated from its start in 1933.

Peterr December 22nd, 2012 at 3:35 pm

On a hunch, I googled “grilled pbj” and discovered a Portland food cart called “PBJ Grilled.” Their menu is quite something. For example:

Betty
Challah bread, Gruyere cheese, bread and butter pickles, white pepper, sea salt, PBJ’s peanut butter… 5.75

Sun Up
Cinnamon raisin bread, apple butter, wild flower honey, granola, bananas, PBJ’s peanut butter… 5.75

You can also add apple wood smoked bacon to any sandwich for a mere $1.75.

<wipes mouth>

Excuse me if I leave now. I think it’s dinner time . . .

Dearie December 22nd, 2012 at 3:35 pm
In response to BevW @ 143

but, but, but…..what would life be without Peeps????

Peterr December 22nd, 2012 at 3:36 pm
In response to spocko @ 142

I hear you.

Boy, do I hear you.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 3:36 pm
In response to laurastrand @ 79

I love it on toast as the easiest breakfast Evah

From “Peanut Butter” by the Marathons (also by The Olympics):

“All my friends tell me that they dig it the most
(peanut, peanut butter)
Early in the morning when they spread it on toast”

http://bit.ly/rgK3p

jrberg December 22nd, 2012 at 3:37 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 119

Yes, definitely changes the flavor. Think about all the variations of olive oil flavors, which come primarily from the unsaturated fats (oils), which change quite a bit if the unsaturated oils oxidize (natural PB can oxidize, too, which makes it rancid. Same process as rancid butter.)

From what I can tell, manufacturers can add up to 10% of hydrogenated oils to PB and still call it PB, so that would mean the total hydrogenated oils would be in the neighborhood of 17.5%.

We eat a lot of Adams Natural Crunchy here…..

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 3:37 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 80

Don’t think I’d trust myself with that much around the house.

Peterr December 22nd, 2012 at 3:38 pm
In response to grimfees @ 146

Agreed.

I think that’s somewhere in Leviticus.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 3:38 pm
In response to Peterr @ 84

:)

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 3:42 pm
In response to Peterr @ 150

My all time fave PB sandwich ever was an open-faced, toasted, multi-grain bread, with Adam’s Old Fashioned PB, some local honey, sliced banana, raisins, and, dusted with cinnamon…! Mmmm-Mmmm…! ;-)

maa8722 December 22nd, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Ever try prosciutto instead of the baloney? I just tried it — very good.

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 3:44 pm
In response to maa8722 @ 159

OMG – we’ve got live cooking going on here…woohoo!!

Dearie December 22nd, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Jon, I can’t remember if you have already addressed this, but in your research did you find any fabulous recipes that you hadn’t thought of before? Any foods that peanut butter is particularly well paired with?

Suzanne December 22nd, 2012 at 3:45 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 160

i’ve been reading this salon with my jar of creamy and a big spoon. just how i read the book :)

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 3:45 pm
In response to Gregg Levine @ 87

First, you’ll be pleased to know that Arrowhead Mills Creamy Organic (my No. 1 favorite peanut butter) is a lineal descendant of Deaf Smith, which was also my first experience with natural or old-fashioned peanut butter as a grad student at UW-Madison in the mid-’70′s.

I have a chapter on Sorrells Pickard Gourmet Peanut Butter, which was briefly marketed, for about a year and a half, from 1999-2001. It was fantastically good, but they expanded too rapidly and were done in by the Dot-Com crash.

Peanuts traditionally have been regarded as a low-class food: the peanut gallery, for example, is the part of the theater highest up and furthest from the stage where patrons are the rowdiest.

But when peanut butter came on the market in the U.S. in the 1890′s, it was regarded as a gourmet food. The best tea rooms in Boston and New York said they served peanut butter on their salads.

When Skippy came on the market in 1933, it was targeted originally at the wealthy, but they then discovered as an inexpensive high-protein food, their natural market was more downscale.

I think it’s really a function of price, at this point: as I mentioned, almond butter is twice as expensive as peanut butter. To my knowledge, it’s not regarded as any “classier” than peanut butter.

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 3:47 pm
In response to Peterr @ 156

Amen.

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 3:48 pm
In response to maa8722 @ 159

well, there’s an idea!

Dearie December 22nd, 2012 at 3:49 pm

This is one of the liveliest salons ever! Good job, Jon. And congrats on your book.

tuezday December 22nd, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Hey Jon, glad to see you are having such a lively salon. I’m trying to get dinner together, so here in spirit, if only occasionally in person.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 3:50 pm
In response to Elliott @ 93

Yup.

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 3:51 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 162

*heh* My nonconformist self is fixing to make a Crunchy PB and Strawberry Jam sandwich, on Wheat bread…! ;-)

Dearie December 22nd, 2012 at 3:52 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 169

With you on that! Grape jelly is just sweet. Nothing more. Jam is where it’s at.

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 3:54 pm
In response to Dearie @ 170

Thank you!! I’ve never understood the whole grape jelly on PB fetish – is it price? The stuff is just grape flavored high fructose corn syrup. Home made strawberry jam….mmmmmmm

BevW December 22nd, 2012 at 3:54 pm

As we come to the end of this lively Book Salon discussion,

Jon, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book and everything we wanted to know about Peanut Butter.

Toby, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Jon’s website and book (Creamy and Crunchy)

Toby’s website (Kitchen Counter Economics)

The Comments will stay open for 24 hours.

Thanks all, Have a great week.

Tomorrow: Anthony Arnove / Howard Zinn Speaks: Collected Speeches 1963-2009; Hosted by Mark Karlin

There will not be Book Salons next weekend. Wishing you a Happy Holidays and New Year.

If you would like to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

FDL Book Salon has a Facebook page too.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 3:54 pm
In response to Elliott @ 94

My first two books were biographies of tormented geniuses in the arts who lapsed into obscurity because of drinking problems — “The Man in the Shadows: Fred Coe and the Golden Age of Television” (live TV drama producer) and “Female Brando: The Legend of Kim Stanley” (stage and film actress).

They both had drinking problems. Peanut butter may give you cirrhosis of the liver, but it won’t make you fat.

Also, they didn’t sell well: Fred Coe, 1000 copies; Kim Stanley, 3000 copies. It takes 5 or 6 years for me to do one of these things, so I was looking for something I liked, something that might sell a little better, and that hadn’t been done. I admired books like Mark Kurlansky’s “Cod,” John McPhee’s “Oranges” and Steve Almond’s “Candyfreak.” Et voila!

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 3:55 pm
In response to BevW @ 172

Thank you very much, Bev. I’ll linger to make sure everyone’s questions get answered.

dakine01 December 22nd, 2012 at 3:55 pm
In response to Dearie @ 170

I do like PB & Strawberry preserves sometimes instead of the PB & Mayo. I probably eat 60% of the latter and 40% the former

Suzanne December 22nd, 2012 at 3:55 pm
In response to BevW @ 172

wonderful salon bev — thank you for arranging it. thanks to toby for a great job hosting and, of course, thanks to jon for writing this book and joining us today.

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 3:55 pm
In response to Dearie @ 170

Jam and/or Preserves are the best…! ;-)

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 3:57 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 169

Strawberry! Crunchy! Wheat! You, Sir, are a blasphemer…!

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 3:57 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 176

My pleasure, Suzanne!

Dearie December 22nd, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Jon, this has been such fun. And it’s been a trip to spend time with you at LLN as you wended your way toward this wonderful book. So happy for you. Hope you have tremendous sales!

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 3:57 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 176

but he’s only in the #90s!

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 3:58 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 175

Kewl, Strawberry is much tastier than Grape…! ;-)

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 3:59 pm
In response to Elliott @ 178

You betcha, M’dear…! ;-)

TobyWollin December 22nd, 2012 at 3:59 pm

OK, folks – I gotta go and pull together some dinner…

Suzanne December 22nd, 2012 at 4:00 pm
In response to Elliott @ 181

he’ll get here — i love it when the author says he’s gonna linger and make sure to answer all the questions :)

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 4:02 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 173

Well, it’s just a wonderful book. If my dear pater were still with us, I’d be wrapping up a copy for him, too (attached to a jar of his favorite -Skippy (CREAMY)).

May you soon find yourself on the best seller’s list.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:02 pm
In response to Peterr @ 96

From historians, I haven’t heard that much, at least not yet.

From peanut butter corporate PR people: crickets. As the lady at Smuckers told me, “Brand management is one of our key things. So if we can’t control a project, we don’t cooperate with it.”

From peanut farmers: Not that much. There’s a retired peanut farmer in Jackson County, Florida, who was very helpful to me, and I’m waiting to hear from him.

From 10-year-olds: there was a shy 10 or 11 year old girl in the audience when I did a talk at the Glendale (Calif.) Public Library, and she seemed to like it well enough.

The book has gotten about a dozen reviews so far, most of them favorable, including The New Yorker, the New York Post and Steve Almond at litmag website The Nervous Breakdown. You can read the reviews on the media page of my website:

http://bit.ly/RmY7Js

The most hostile review I’ve gotten was from Gina Katz Feith in the Wall Street Journal. Can any Firepup figure out if she married into the family of Douglas Feith, No. 3 in the George W. Bush Department of “Defense,” whom General Tommy Franks called “the dumbest f***ing guy on the planet”?

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 4:03 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 184

Mahalo, Toby, for hosting today…! *g*

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 4:04 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 184

adios amiga – well done!

(wait! that would imply roasted)

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:06 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 99

If you think peanuts are left in the fields for a long time now:

Current practice is to let peanuts dry out for about two days in the fields. But up until the 1950′s, before the current generation of farming equipment was invented, peanuts were piled around stackpoles and left in the fields for weeks.

But aflatoxin isn’t a function of how long peanuts remain in the fields. It’s a function of how much moisture they get. If drought stresss is bad enough, it renders peanuts more vulnerable to aflatoxin.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:06 pm
In response to Peterr @ 100

Shh! Shh!

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:07 pm
In response to Dearie @ 101

Thank you so much, Dearie. And of the unresolved questions from my research is why peanut butter cookies always have to have that criss-cross pattern on them.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:09 pm
In response to Elliott @ 109

Fascinating, although I wouldn’t think a two-week hiatus would have that effect. It’s still a mystery, I guess.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:10 pm
In response to Dearie @ 110

Bingo. The Somis Nut House. You local?

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:10 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 111

Tell your husband I agree with him 100 percent.

garcam123 December 22nd, 2012 at 4:11 pm
In response to BevW @ 1

My ALL TIME BEST Peanut Butter Samwhich is:

Butter,
Peanut Butter,
thin sliced onion,
Pepper to taste!

My mom grew up on them and passed them to us!
I just remembered….I had one today!

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:11 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 113

Also, true peanuts have hard shells. Peanuts have soft shells.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:12 pm
In response to Dearie @ 114

Exactly. And I love the way you nail the Southern accent.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:13 pm
In response to perris @ 115

Just remember that you got the idea here and remember your friend bluewombat.

Dearie December 22nd, 2012 at 4:14 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 194

Oxnard Plain….. on the dunes between the Pacific and the strawberry fields.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:14 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 117

And macadamia butter would be more expensive still.

Dearie December 22nd, 2012 at 4:15 pm
In response to garcam123 @ 196

Wow… that’s a new one. Reminds me of a liverwurst sandwich. I might give the PB version a try!

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 4:15 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 192

Because.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:15 pm
In response to Peterr @ 118

Actually, I thought this was who he had in mind:

http://bit.ly/RbuFM

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:16 pm
In response to Elliott @ 203

I figured it was something like that.

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 4:17 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 192

actually, like they do with the swirls on a piece of gourmet chocolate, that way you know which ones are the peanut butter ones

Dearie December 22nd, 2012 at 4:19 pm
In response to Elliott @ 206

Is that so? I always figured it was just to keep the cookies flat. But I like the look….and the ridges hold little sprinkles really well~

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 4:20 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 201

I hate to burst perris’s dreams of vast wealth, but you can buy macadamia butter online

Dearie December 22nd, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Great job, Jon. Thanks!~ And happy holidays! You really had a great book salon!

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 4:21 pm
In response to Elliott @ 203

*heh* I do agree with ya on that, Ellie…! How else would ya know it was a PB cookie or not…? ;-)

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Thank you so much Jon, and Toby
and as always Bev

This was great fun.

jrberg December 22nd, 2012 at 4:22 pm
In response to Elliott @ 203

OK, you guys are bringing out the science nerd in me. We’ve made both the chocolate kiss version and the fork squashed version of PB cookies. I’ve noticed that the non-squashed version has a different texture and crunch than the squashed version. So my hypothesis is that forks are used to flatten the PB cookies to get a certain texture from the thickness, and the crisscross result just improves the esthetics.

Yeah, too much time on my hands right now…

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:22 pm
In response to spocko @ 116

I go into that quite a bit:

…the Peter Pan Salmonella contamination of 2006-07…

…the notorious Peanut Corporation of America case of 2008-09, in which there were seven known deaths and more than 700 known sickened. (In that case, e-mails surfaced that the company KNEW the stuff was bad and sent it out anyway; the law was so bad at that point that the FDA had to get PCA’s approval before sending out the recall notice)

…I even uncovered a little-known case, also involving Peter Pan, in the early 1970′s.

I don’t go into the current Sunland case, as that broke after the book went to the printers.

While you’re right that companies still get away with too much, the law is better now as a result of the PCA debacle. The Food Safety Modernization Act was passed in its wake, and it has helped. At one point, Sunland said they were going to start up the plant again, and the FDA said, oh no, you’re not and had the teeth to make it stick. It looks like the plant is going to open again, but under the terms of a consent decree which will literally force them to clean up their act.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:30 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 123

Yes, and tricky, because people don’t know what they’re eating. I was really disappointed when Big Ag money sunk Proposition 37 out here in California.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:30 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 124

Let me know what you think, Suzanne!

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:31 pm
In response to Peterr @ 129

Thank you very much, Peterr!

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Mahalo Nui Loa, Jon…! As Suz, Dearie, and others have said, it was a pleasure to follow along in your adventures…! I’m looking forward to reading your book(I made a book request at my Public Library)…! I wish ya many happy returns on your efforts…! *g*

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:34 pm
In response to maa8722 @ 139

The oil is 100 percent peanut oil.

I’ve found cashew butter to have a strong and distinctive flavor; almond butter seemed blander. But I recently bought a jar of Trader Joe’s almond butter and found it to have a surprisingly subtle but distinctive flavor. In some ways, I liked it better than almonds, which I’m not that wild about.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:37 pm
In response to spocko @ 142

Very well said.

By the way, I got a lot of help on the food contamination part of the book from William Marler of Seattle, perhaps the nation’s leading plaintiffs’ lawyer in food contamination cases. I don’t know if you’ve ever worked with him or not, but he’s very knowledgeable, very helpful, and will get back to you very quickly.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:38 pm
In response to BevW @ 143

I believe Ring-Dings do as well.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:38 pm
In response to Elliott @ 144

No need to spring for embalming fluid when you die if you eat enough of that stuff.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:39 pm
In response to grimfees @ 146

Not so fast there, pardner…

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:43 pm
In response to jrberg @ 154

They can’t add 10 percent of hydrogenated oil, as it would leave no room for salt and sweeteners. I’m doing this off the top of my head, but I think the percentage of hygrogenated oil in peanut butter is closer to 2 or 3 percent. When it’s that low, it’s full rather than partial hydrogenation, which I believe is safer vis-a-vis the level of trans fats, but produces a less natural mouthfeel.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:44 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 158

My God, that does sound good. Can I visit you the next time I come to Hawaii?

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:47 pm
In response to Dearie @ 161

To be honest with you, I only included the recipes because I had an agent for a while; he suggested doing so, and I saw no harm in doing it. So I didn’t really concentrate on recipes per se.

So I’ll just stick with the obvious: it pairs well with jelly and with bananas (but not in the same sandwich).

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:48 pm
In response to tuezday @ 167

Thanks so much, Tuez — it’s always good to see a Late Late Nighter pop in!

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:49 pm
In response to TobyWollin @ 171

Toby, thank you so much for hosting! It was good to have you as my wing person.

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 4:50 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 224

*heh* And I’d forgot the shredded coconut…! ;-)

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:52 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 176

And thanks to you for showing up, Suzanne. See ya at LLN!

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:53 pm
In response to Dearie @ 180

It’s been so good to have you and the LLN crew show up in force. Thanks so much, and see ya in the P.M.

perris December 22nd, 2012 at 4:54 pm
In response to Elliott @ 208

*foiled*

jrberg December 22nd, 2012 at 4:54 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 223

Yes, I forgot about the salt and sweeteners (and why would peanut butter need sugars???). Where are you in CA? I’m in Davis.

Suzanne December 22nd, 2012 at 4:54 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 229

would not have missed it dood…. see ya then

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:54 pm
In response to Elliott @ 181

Like Glen Campbell said in “True Grit”: I ain’t dead yet!

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:55 pm
In response to Elliott @ 186

From your mouth to God’s ear. Thanks for your trenchant comments today and for your good wishes.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:56 pm
In response to garcam123 @ 196

That sounds pretty good, too.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:56 pm
In response to Dearie @ 200

That’s neat. My accountant’s in Oxnard, so I drive that road every year.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 4:59 pm
In response to Elliott @ 206

So it’s to make sure you don’t bite into it thinking it might be a ginger snap? Well, I’ll be hornswoggled…

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 5:00 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 235

well, I LOVE peanut butter – and this book. :)

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 5:00 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 217

Thank you so much, CT. See you at LLN…

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 5:01 pm
In response to jrberg @ 232

I’m down here in Los Angeles.

Elliott December 22nd, 2012 at 5:03 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 238

actually I just looked it up in view of jrberg’s comments, the dough doesn’t spread much so the criss-cross ensures even baking. But even so, it does help you tell which ones are the PB’s.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 5:05 pm

OK, guys (and gals) — I think I’ve answered all questions. It’s my understanding from Bev that comments will remain open for 24 hours, so I’ll check back in tomorrow for any stragglers.

I’m thrilled with the number of questions (I thought, being a non-political subject, it might be 30 or so) and with the wide range of intelligent and good-natured questions I received. I feel a bit like Sally Field — “You like me! You really like me!”

Thank you all so much, and I’ll see you again in the trenches of the fight for truth, justice and the American way.

bluewombat December 22nd, 2012 at 5:06 pm
In response to Elliott @ 242

Fascinating. I always thought it was just a custom, a stylistic thing. OK, my left wrist is telling me to stop typing. Thank you again for coming by.

CTuttle December 22nd, 2012 at 5:08 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 243

…“You like me! You really like me!”…

Dayam Skippy…! ;-)

Suzanne December 22nd, 2012 at 5:10 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 243

one
of
us

spocko December 22nd, 2012 at 6:05 pm
In response to Jon Krampner @ 219

Yes! I’ve talked to him and follow his twitter feed. He’s great.

Sorry but the comments are closed on this post