Photo: Jpellgen, Flickr.
The childhood brown-bag staple is a classic many adult Americans still hold close to heart. Though the first official record of the immortal PBJ combo was recorded in 1901, did you know that peanut butter, when it first made its appearance, was considered a specialty product? It was once served in upscale eateries paired with unexpected items, like pimentos, at New York's Ye Olde English Coffee House, or served with watercress at the Vanity Fair Tea-Room. According to Peanuts: The Illustrious History of the Goober Pea, "That peanut butter could be combined with so many divers products demonstrated that it was a relatively neutral platform providing a nutty taste and a sticky texture that bound together various ingredients."
As the price of the specialty item decreased and sugar was added, appealing to a younger audience, peanut butter became a national sensation in the early 1900s -- and it became a go-to filling for sandwiches, which increased popularity with the appearance of sliced bread in the late 1920s. According to Peanuts, "As a consequence of low cost, high nutrition, and ease of assembling, peanut butter sandwiches became one of the top children's meals during the Depression."
And the sandwich has stuck with its popularity -- to date, the average American boy will eat some 1,500 peanut butter sandwiches before reaching the age of 18!
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