With its rich, roasted-peanut aroma, salty taste, and gooey texture, peanut butter is a scrumptious combination of flavors that make the spread nigh-impossible to stop eating after a single spoonful. The consummate comfort food, peanut butter has become the go-to creamy snack for many people. With all the peanut butter you eat, how much do you really know about it? Read on to discover some interesting peanut butter facts.
Facts about Peanut Butter
1. Strictly speaking, peanut butter is ‘legume spread.’
One of the most shocking peanut butter facts is that technically peanut butter is ‘legume spread’ and is neither a nut nor a butter. Why, you ask?
Well, as innumerable botanists will tell you, peanuts are actually not nuts but legumes since they grow underground. They are relatives of beans, peas, and alfalfa.
2. By law, any product labeled “peanut butter” in the United States must contain at least 90% peanuts.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, in order to call your product “peanut butter,” it has to contain at least 90 percent peanuts. The only other allowable ingredients are salt, sweeteners, and hydrogenated vegetable oils.
These standards, which took more than a decade to agree upon, were proposed in 1959 because manufacturers were adding so much glycerin to their products to keep the oil from separating.
It means that products containing palm oil for instance outside the standard definition of “peanut butter.”
3. The earliest peanut butter spreads were made by the Aztecs and Incas.
It is widely believed that the history of peanut butter dates all the way back to the Aztecs and Incas, who were the earliest to crush peanuts into a paste. However, this early form of peanut butter was much coarser and not as creamy as the one we love today.
4. The actual invention of peanut butter can be credited to at least four people.
According to the US National Peanut Board, the credit for the modern-day version of peanut butter goes to at least three individuals. And contrary to the popular notion, George Washington Carver didn’t invent peanut butter.
After the Aztecs and the Incas, the second nod to the creation of peanut butter goes to Canadian pharmacist Marcellus Gilmore Edson who patented peanut paste in 1884.
In 1895, the influential Seventh-day Adventist Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (the same guy behind Kellogg’s cereal) patented a process for creating peanut butter from raw peanuts. Kellogg enthusiastically endorsed a plant-based diet and promoted peanut butter as a healthy protein substitute for vegetarians.
Then, in 1903, St. Louis physician Dr. Ambrose Straub patented a peanut butter-making machine while searching for a protein solution for patients with bad teeth who could not chew meat. The machine made the process of converting peanuts into peanut butter far quicker and less tedious overall.
But the man responsible for the peanut butter we know and adore today was Joseph Rosefield. In 1922, through hydrogenation, Rosefield was able to keep peanut oil from separating from the peanut solids.
5. Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of having peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth.
If you have anxiety about eating peanut butter because it might get stuck to the top of your palate, you’re not alone. A real affliction, arachibutyrophobia is the unnatural fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.
The phobia is usually rooted in a general fear of choking and sufferers of arachibutyrophobia experience heart palpitations, dry mouth, nausea, sweating, tremor, or a sense of dread when exposed to peanut butter.
6. The first recorded recipe for a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich was published in 1901.
It’s virtually unavoidable to discuss peanut butter and not mention jelly. The idea of bringing peanut butter and jelly (PB&J) together between slices of bread didn’t take hold until November 1901, the first peanut butter and jelly sandwich recipe appeared in the Boston Cooking School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics.
It was written by Julia Davis Chandler, who had the genius idea of making a sandwich using a filling made with peanut paste and jelly. Today, PB&J is arguably America’s most iconic sandwich.
7. During the early 1900s, peanut butter was considered a delicacy.
Due to Dr. Kellogg’s peanut butter promotional efforts and his elite clientele, which included Henry Ford, peanut butter initially established itself as a highbrow spread in the early 1900s.
According to culinary historian Andrew F. Smith’s book Peanuts: The Illustrious History of the Goober Pea, peanut butter appeared in sandwiches at upscale affairs and high teas with watercress and pimento.
It was only from the 1920s when there was a boom in the commercial peanut industry, that peanut butter became more affordable and brought the spread from the hoity-toity to the masses.
8. Peanut Butter and Jelly only became an American staple during World War II.
Though peanut butter and jelly had been around for quite a while before World War II, it only really became popular during the war. Why? Because the US Armed Forces discovered that PB&J sandwiches were an effective ration supply to get protein to the troops.
In addition, the ingredients of PB&J were cheap, easy to come by, and easy to consume at room temperature. The soldiers found it easy to combine peanut butter with jelly to make it more appetizing. The soldiers kept eating the sandwiches after the war and the rest is history.
9. To make a 12-ounce (340 g) jar of peanut butter, you will need about 540 peanuts!
According to the US National Peanut Board, it takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce (340 g) jar of peanut butter, which is the standard size of a small peanut butter jar in the US.
It’s no wonder that two tablespoons pack such a calorific and nutritious punch!
10. Peanut Butter is so popular in the US that there are two national days dedicated to it.
Peanut butter is so wildly popular that it gets the recognition it deserves on two days each year. Both days celebrate this beloved American fixture, whether creamy or chunky, with chocolate or with jelly.
“National Peanut Butter Day” is celebrated annually on January 24 But the lovers of peanut butter took it a step further and created another day of their own. “National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day” s celebrated annually on March 1.
11. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup was introduced to America in 1928.
One of America’s most delicious and celebrated treats, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is an iconic chocolate cup consisting of smooth peanut butter cream enveloped in Hershey’s chocolate.
Although currently owned and manufactured by Hershey’s, Reese’s was not actually its invention. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were created in November 1928 by a man named Harry Burnett (HB) Reese, who was an employee of Hershey’s at the time. The confectioneries were called Penny Cups at that time and were sold for only a penny (one cent)!
12. 96% of people making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches will spread the peanut butter before the jelly.
Everybody has their own way of constructing a PB&J sandwich. In 2014, the Huffington Post reported that 96% of people in the US reckon the jelly should be spread on a PB&J after the peanut butter. We definitely agree!
13. Peanut butter is most commonly made from runner peanuts.
Famous for their uniform kernel size which allows for even roasting, runner peanuts are most commonly used for the manufacturing of peanut butter. Besides Runner, the other three different types of peanuts are Valencia, Spanish, and Virginia.
14. Astronauts have to eat peanut butter sandwiches on a tortilla!
One of the most intriguing facts about peanut butter is that in space, astronauts have to eat peanut butter sandwiches on a tortilla! Breadcrumbs are rarely an issue on Earth, but they are a nuisance at best and a hazard at worst in a zero-gravity environment.
Tortillas, on the other hand, are easier to handle in reduced gravity and also stay fresher than sliced bread.
15. The United States happens to be the biggest supplier of peanut butter and the biggest consumer.
No surprises there! The average American eats about 3 pounds (1.36 kg) of peanut butter per person each year, and as a whole, the US consumes about a billion pounds (454 million kg) of peanut butter every year.
It’s often said that if you took all the peanut butter that Americans eat in a year, it could coat the floor of the Grand Canyon and still have some leftover. Considering that the Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long and 18 miles (29 km) wide, that is quite staggering!
16. There’s a jar of peanut butter in 75 percent of the homes in the United States.
Moreover, 94% of homes in America use peanut butter regularly according to the US National Peanut Board.
17. In many parts of the world, peanut butter is considered an unpalatable American curiosity.
As hard as it is to believe, many countries don’t share America’s love for peanut butter. Peanut butter found in other countries is often very expensive and sometimes hardly reminiscent of the peanut butter found in the United States.
18. In the Netherlands, peanut butter is called “Pindakaas”, which means “Peanut Cheese.”
One of the fun facts about peanut butter is that it’s known as “Pindakaas” (peanut cheese) in the Netherlands. The word butter is protected in the country, and only products that actually have butter in them can be named as such. Therefore, the Dutch decided to call it “pindakaas” because it was a savory topping.
19. The Jif Peanut Butter factory in Lexington, Kentucky is the largest peanut butter producing facility in the world.
According to database company Statista, Jif is by far the most popular peanut butter brand in the United States and controls over 30 percent of the market.
20. Women, children, and people who live on the East Coast of the United States prefer creamy peanut butter while men and people living on the West Coast favor crunchy peanut butter.
When it comes to the debate of chunky versus smooth peanut butter in the United States, it seems the division is down to gender, geography, and age. We just want to know why?! What’s your favorite style of peanut butter?
21. Peanut butter can be converted into diamonds by subjecting it to extremely high temperatures and pressure.
In 2014, Dan Frost, a researcher at the Bayerisches Geoinstitut in Germany, managed to create a tiny diamond out of peanut butter after pressing it with immense pressure to replicate that of the earth’s own diamond creation process.
However, this process doesn’t produce the kinds of diamonds you’d see in a jewelry store. This method took weeks to produce a diamond that was 3 millimeters in diameter. Plus, the diamond was destroyed straight after due to an enormous hydrogen release.
22. Peanut butter is a good source of Vitamin E, niacin (B3), manganese, vitamin B6, and magnesium.
Peanut butter is also a good source of copper, which helps maintain our bone health, immune function, and blood vessels. However, peanut butter is high in calories and, while it contains “good fats,” eating too much of it can be a bad thing.