“Jif or Skippy?” I was asked as I left the Y after my yoga class, and offered to see if I could tell the difference. I knew I couldn’t so just took one sample of the peanut butter smeared on an apple slice, happy to have a post-exercise snack.
November is National Peanut Butter Lovers Month and the Y was promoting peanut butter as part of its healthy eating campaign.
As I walked out, licking the sticky remains from the roof of my mouth, I thought about peanut butter. In elementary school, peanut butter and jam, peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, or peanut butter and banana sandwiches filled my lunch box about once a week. Some friends ate it everyday; it remains an inexpensive family staple. Loaded with with protein, vitamins and minerals, easy to make and unlikely to spoil, it’s become a favorite refueling food while cycling. One of my cycling friends considers pb&j sandwiches as crucial to a ride as a spare inner tube and portable pump.
Recipes abound; as do choices- crunchy, smooth, salt-free, low sugar and so on. Buying peanut butter has become almost as difficult as selecting breakfast cereal.
What concerns me, are nut allergies.
As a teacher, I began to see the prevalence of peanut allergies. A colleague of mine, a colon cancer survivor, eats peanut butter sandwiches for lunch every day- it’s the only “safe” food she can eat. Yet she can’t work in one of the local elementary schools because the principal is allergic and has banned nut products. As a kid, I never heard of nut allergies. What happened, I wondered, that made this popular lunchbox item potentially dangerous and even fatal?
There’s no one answer. Genetics, pre-mature exposure to nut-based products in infancy, processed foods, environmental factors like pollution, vaccinations, over sanitizing that reduces immune systems are all mentioned in the research. While peanut and other nut allergies are real- and if it’s your child it’s an enormous worry, the consensus seems that nut-free zones aren’t as necessary as educating teachers and parents on how to respond to an allergic attack.
In the meantime, peanuts and peanut butter remain part of Americana. A trivia game could be designed around them. Here are some fun facts:
- It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.
- There are enough peanuts in one acre to make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches.
- Peanut butter was first introduced to the USA in 1904 at the Universal Exposition in St. Louis by C.H. Sumner, who sold $705.11 of the “new treat” at his concession stand.
- The average child will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before he/she graduates high school.
- Americans spend almost $800 million a year on peanut butter.
And if other November holidays keep you too busy to celebrate this one, don’t fret. There are other peanut celebrations:
January 24 – National Peanut Butter Day
March – National Peanut Month
March 1 National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day
March 8 – National Peanut Cluster Day
April 2 – National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day
May 18 – I love Reese’s Day
June 12 – National Peanut Butter Cookie Day
September 13 – National Peanut Day
Mark your 2012 calendars, order your greeting cards, find recipes! (Chase’s Calendar of Events)
Remember this song: “Peanut Butter and Jelly” – p003.html
My personal preference: crunchy, organic on grainy bread with blueberry jam or orange marmalade. What’s yours?