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The literature on the development of peanut butter and jelly sandwich is quite limited especially regarding its formative years and is primarily dominated by issues of evolvement into the current popular brands. There are negligible writings on the involvement of manufacture and predilection of the consumers to the current brands or ingredients.
A review of the available literature indicates that there is meager research on the progression of the industry to the now well-liked varieties that nowadays integrate a wide range of fruits, vegetable oils and other natural products including honey, cheese, raisins, strawberry, and grape fruit among others.
This study will nonetheless attempt to divulge into the history of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich development across the years with special emphasis on its commercialization. This will entail a review of the backdrop, promotions, and the health issues linked to PB&J products.
The Background of the Product
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are popular snacks derived from dry roasted peanuts generating a pasty butter substance principally spread on two slices of bread to create the sandwich (Stradley, 2004).
According to MSNBC.com, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (PB&J) have since the last century emerged as one of the most enduring staple North Americans diets generating an annual turnover of approximately $800 for the industry. A typical American household consumes almost six pounds of PB&J annually, with grape and strawberry fruit spread being the most popular structured in diverse shapes for schoolchildren lunch boxes (Suddath, 2009).
Julia Davis Chandler penned the preliminary literature on the production of peanut butter in 1901. Several authors (Barron, 1998), (Smith, 2002), and (Stradley, 2004) have also recorded the emergence of the creamy thick peanut spread with its salty/sweet taste progression as a popular snack.
According to the National Peanut Board, the average American schoolchild is likely to consume about 1500 sandwiches prior to high school graduation (Suddath, 2009). This popularity though is also quite widespread amongst older persons due to its low-cost. Legendary musician Elvis Presley was instrumental in popularizing fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches variety to the American public (Smith, 2002). This popularity is reflected in January 24 being named as the National Peanut Butter Day in the U.S (The Inquisitr, 2009).
Commercialization of the Product
Although PB&J sandwiches has been actively traded for over 60 years and consumed for centuries, it is generally accepted that it has no factually recognized invention date (Ehow.com, 2011). Nonetheless, various food historians have traced its history to the late 20th century with Stradley (2004) highlighting the formula ascribed to Dr. Ambrose W. Straub, who used the pasted peanuts to cure teeth infections from 1893 as critical to its development.
However, Smith (2002) has argued that peanut butter initially marketed as a health food for vegetarians was started much earlier, from the 15th century despite the fact that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were formerly launched in the 1920s. Similarly, Patrick & Coyle (1982) maintained that Native Americans (Aztecs) had also developed the paste from roasted peanuts, indigenous to the continent.
Smith contends that the evolvement into present popular PB&J variants was paralleled by the invention of sliced bread by Gustav Papendick in 1928, which is the predominant ingredient, used to apply the peanut butter and jelly paste. He thus argues that this led to enhanced consumption of the peanut butter sandwiches, accredited to having 27 percent of the “recommended daily intake” of fat for budding children.
Production firms thus market them based upon their nutritional value. Nonetheless, Robinson (2001) asserts that throughout the widespread publicity, the consuming public is only partially fed facts serving only the producers interests who inevitably influence consumption patterns thus disregarding other stakeholders.
Suddath (2009 has also traced the history of peanut butter to popular brands inventors like Dr. John Harvey Kellogg who in 1895 patented the process of making it into butter paste a food for vegetarians while in 1922, Joseph Rosefield solved the dilemma of the peanut butter tendency to split by inserting hydrogenated vegetable oil he named Skippy.
Consequently, during the 1920s and 1930s, commercialized brands were being retailed including Peter Pan and Skippy as the Great Depression ushered in this alternative ration (Stradley, 2004).
Influence of World War II
There is also speculation that the recipe for the peanut sandwich was predominantly popularized during the Second World War when it was served as a ration for troops who added jelly to the sandwich. Accordingly, Stradley (2004) asserts that the onset of food rationing nationwide subsequently led to meat and butter products shortage hence making peanut butter a welcome protein substitute.
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The ensuing commercialization of the product in the post-war period furthermore made it inexpensive to average households as it evolved from its elitist vegetarian roots to the modern retail varieties consumers have come to revere (Smith, 2002).
Nevertheless, Suddath (2009) argues that the mass production of PB&J was instrumental in ushering in fresh innovative variants of the product. Thus, Suddath credits the production firm J.M. Smucker Co. for introducing fresh range of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches like honey, chocolate and some fruits added to the mix by 1968. The firm also purchased the rights to new variants that had longer shelf life ideal for commercial purposes aptly christened the ‘Inscrutables’ that unsurprisingly had a stupendous growth (MSNBC.com, 2005).
Health Issues Associated with PB&J
Although peanut butter is certified as having high nutritional values (over 500 calories), Barron (1998) has however argued that the presence of high carcinogenic substances like aflatoxin pose serious health problems to consumers. Similarly, incidences of allergic episodes have being reported particularly amongst school-going children, while the hydrogenated vegetable oil induced paste is deemed as potentially harmful to hypertensive predisposed individuals.
Other diseases associated with peanuts butter and jelly include salmonellosis, atherosclerosis, and supplementary diseases linked to trans fats though the U.S. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has disputed this assertions following studies in 2009 that found very low levels in those being retailed (BBC, 2009).
Apart from its health concerns, other contemporary issues associated with the peanut butter and jelly sandwich encompass its construction and technicalities, the reliabilities of the components, and how consumed.
Consequently, Robinson (2001) insists the industry has been overly subjugated by advertisings, inevitably influencing consumer trends including preference of assorted peanut butter brands with the production companies taking minimal heed of their client’s liberty to select the brands or ingredients of their choice.
From the foregoing analysis, it can be deduced from several authors that the growth of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into an American staple food mostly took off in the post-World War II period. The emergence of sliced bread and food stamps rationing during the war also significantly contributed to the popularity of the product.
However, the lack of tangible contribution by consumers and other stakeholders in the development is evident with the expansion steered mostly by production companies. The dearth of passable systematic research on the subject however makes this study incomplete due to sparse reliable literature on the subject. Thus, more research is needed to explore the development of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Barron, J. (1998, September 27). Dear Mr. Carver. This Is a Cease and Desist Order. doi: 9D0CEEDB1539F934A1575AC0A96E958260
BBC. (2009). US Peanut Boss Refuses Testimony. Web.
Civay, M. (2009). Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. Microsoft Interview.
Ehow.com. (2011). Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich History. Web.
MSNBC.com. (2005). Court rejects J.M. Smucker’s PB&J patent. Web.
Patrick, Jr. & Coyle, L. (1982). The World Encyclopedia of Food: Facts on File. McGraw Hill.
Robinson, J. (2001). American food over the decades. New York: Three rivers press.
Smith, A. F. (2002). The Illustrious History of the Goober Pea. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Stradley, L. (2004). History of Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich. Whatscookingamerica.net. Web.
Suddath, C. (2009). A Brief History of Peanut Butter. doi: 0, 9171, 1879180,00.html
The Inquisitr. (2009). All About National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day. The Inquisitr.com. Web.