Opinion: A history of peanut butter


Commentary by Ward Degler

George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter.

Apparently, peanut butter was already a thing when Carver published his “How to Grow and Harvest Peanuts, and 105 Ways to Prepare Them for Human Consumption” in 1916.

In 1884, Marcellus Gilmore Edson from Montreal, Canada, ground peanuts into a paste. Ten years later, George Bayle of St. Louis created a peanut butter snack. John Harvey Kellogg, of cereal fame, processed peanuts into butter as a meat substitute during World War I.

In 1922, chemist Joseph Rosefield invented a process for keeping the oil from separating. He licensed it to the company that created Peter Pan peanut butter, then made his own brand, Skippy. In 1955, Procter & Gamble marketed Jif peanut butter.

Americans eat an estimated 3 pounds of peanut butter per year. That

amounts to 700 million pounds of peanut butter. It takes 850 peanuts to make a single 18-oz jar of peanut butter. One acre of peanuts can make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches.

During the March 2020 pandemic, peanut butter consumption in the United States increased by 75 percent over the previous period in 2019.

It takes a lot of steps to make peanut butter. They are a legume, so they

grow underground. You dig, shell, roast, cool, blanch and grind them into a paste. During the process, the manufacturer adds sugar, salt and other oils.

When I was a kid, we lived in a cabin in Wisconsin, and during the winter months, everything would freeze, including the peanut butter. Mom would take the jar from the cabinet and put it next to the stove to ensure it was spreadable in the morning.

Technically, peanuts are not nuts but are considered part of America’s nut consumption, along with almonds and walnuts.

January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day. So, mark your calendars and fix yourself a peanut butter sandwich.


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