Love that Peanut Butter!

March 8, 2012 at 11:38 AM | Posted in Food, snacks | Leave a comment
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My one snack/food weak point is Peanut Butter! As I was enjoying my daily tablespoon of Jif Reduced Peanut Butter I was wondering about the origin of Peanut Butter. So here’s a little background on one of my favorites Peanut Butter.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a food paste made primarily from ground dry roasted peanuts, popular in North America, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and parts of Asia, particularly the Philippines and Indonesia. It is mainly used as a sandwich spread, sometimes in combination as in the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The United States and China are leading exporters of peanut butter. Other nuts are used as the basis for similar nut butters.

Peanuts are native to the tropics of the Americas and were mashed to become a pasty substance by the Aztec Native Americans hundreds of years ago. A number of peanut paste products have been used over the centuries, and the distinction between peanut paste and peanut butter is not always clear in ordinary use. Early forms of peanut butter, like the Aztecs’ version, were nothing but pure roasted peanut paste. It may have been harder to work with and spread than regular peanut butter, less creamy and less sweet. Vegetable oil was also later added to most brands to aid in its spreadability, but with new modern processing machines being invented, the peanut butter was already significantly smoother than it had been.

Peanut butter was invented and reinvented many times during history. Peanuts were known as early as 950 B.C. and originated in South America. The ancient Incas used peanuts and were known to have made it into a paste-like substance. As a crop peanuts emigrated from South America to Africa by early explorers and then traveled by trade into Spain who then traded the product to the American colonies. The first commercial peanut crop was grown in Virginia in the early to mid 1840’s and in North Carolina beginning around 1818.

Evidence of peanut butter as it is known today comes from U.S. Patent 306,727, issued in 1884 to Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, for the finished product of the process of milling roasted peanuts between heated surfaces until the peanuts entered “a fluid or semi-fluid state.” As the peanut product cooled, it set into what Carter explained as being “a consistency like that of butter, lard, or ointment.” Edson’s patent is based on the preparation of a peanut paste as an intermediate to the production the modern product we know as peanut butter, it does show the initial steps necessary for the production of peanut butter. George Washington Carver is often credited with inventing peanut butter and is nearly synonymous with its history in the United States.

Dr. Ambrose Straub, a physician in St. Louis, Missouri, pursued a method for providing toothless elderly with protein in the 1890s. His peanut-butter-making machine was patented in 1903.

January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day in the United States.

Peanut butter has a high level of monounsaturated fats and resveratrol. Peanut butter (and peanuts) provide protein, vitamins B3 and E, magnesium, folate, dietary fiber, arginine, and high levels of the antioxidant p-coumaric acid.

A slang term for peanut butter in World War II was “monkey butter“.

In Dutch peanut butter is called pindakaas (peanut cheese), because the name butter was protected in the Netherlands when peanut butter came on the market in 1948. The word kaas, cheese, was already being used in another product (leverkaas) that has no cheese in it. In the 1960s, collectible glasses related to characters from the Oz Books were sold as promotions with “Oz, the Wonderful Peanut Spread.” The product was forced to rename itself a peanut butter when the USDA informed the company that, under food laws, a “peanut spread” has a lower peanut percentage than a “peanut butter.”

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