Friday, April 20, 2007

I Wonder Why Peanut Butter and Jelly Tastes So Good

It is 10:42 am and I’m eating my lunch. Why are you eating your lunch so early, you might ask? I would answer: because it is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a side of salt and vinegar chips and I just can’t wait anymore.

Why, oh why, do I love PB&J? What is it about this stuff that destroys my willpower and makes me feel like all is right with the world? I don’t think I’m alone – I think it’s an indisputable fact of nature, practically written in the Constitution of the United States, that a born and raised red-white-and-blue American must love the PBJ. I have never met an American that doesn’t roll his/her eyes with pleasure at the very mention of the phrase “peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” Foreign people don’t get it, even in other Western countries. I seem to recall that English supermarkets had peanut butter, but it wasn’t the sugary sweet creamy goodness that I have on my tongue at this moment. Ditto with Australia. Foreigners I’ve worked with at jobs in the past gag at the first taste. “Americans like things so sweet,” they say, and crack open their Vegemite or Onion Chutney or Steak and Kidney Pie. Damn straight. I love me some sweet, and that is one thing PBJ has in spades.

Take peanut butter: creamy or crunchy, the nutty, salty flavor and velvety consistency surround your tongue like a warm bath, and even though it can be some hard work to chew, it’s worth every minute of aching jaws and sticky roof-of-mouth. As for jelly, this stuff by itself is kind of weird, texturally, but its sweet is a perfect complement to the PB’s salty, and it softens the bread just a touch, which helps with the chewing.

Alone, each has its merits and its negatives, but I think it can be said that the combination of peanut butter and jelly stuck between two slices of bread-of-choice brings more pleasure than either can provide alone. This is because of the nostalgia. A PBJ sandwich is like an instant message along your brain pathways to your memory centers, saying “Remember childhood, back when things were easy. Childhood gooooood. PBJ goooooood.” Oh yes, the taste of PBJ recalls the idyllic childhood that nobody had, but everybody thinks they had because when things were rough, Mom gave you some PBJ. Mom knows what that stuff can do. Kids had a rough day? Give ‘em some ecstasy between two pieces of wheat bread. Bills can’t be paid? That’s ok! This form of therapy is cheap! In fact, let’s have PBJ for every meal because that’s all we can afford with a half dozen kids to feed. Thus, we have the final thing to love about PBJ: when the chips are down, a loaf of bread, some jam, and a pot of peanut butter will cost you five bucks and last you a week.

Ahhh, my sandwich bag is empty and my belly is full. My tongue is a happy tongue, my tum is a happy tum, and I’m going to be hungry at 3pm. But it was worth it. Worth every sticky, creamy, sugar-and-salty bite. Thank you, PBJ, for making my Friday.

Peace and Love –



super jane said...

believe it or not, i actually grew into the taste of pb&j. i liked the pb part of it, but not so much the j part. now i love them together, but only when they come from 2 different jars. who the hell thought of combining the two into one jar anyway? that, my friend, is nasty.

leah loves her some pb&j too. nearly every night when i ask her what she wants for dinner, she replies, 'peanut butter and jelly.' alana, on the other hand, only likes jelly sandwiches. i nearly gag each time she eats one. blech.

Wicked M said...

I love me a good peanut butter sandwich! I have one every day of the work week. Like you, my willpower is dashed and it makes me happy. I don't love the PB&J combo so much -- my mom always just made PB sandwiches. Childhood gooooood. PB goooooood. Great entry, sista!

G Love said...

It's 3pm. I'm hungry. Damn!

Anonymous said...

And what about PBJ's underrated brother . . . peanut butter and HONEY? Sigh. Nirvana. Especially when the honey has crystallized just a touch, and you have a wedge of Pringles waiting as dessert.

Amanda said...

perfect recipe. hamburger bun, toasted. when you hear the pop, immediately apply the peanut butter to the thicker slice. Then take a little time to apply the jelly to the naked slice. squish together and eat. often a favorite dessert of mine. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm