Peanut Butter and the Geek

Peanut Butter and the GeekIn response to Ryan Matthew Pierson’s Bacon: Why Do Geeks Love It? piece, here is my homage to peanut butter, the breakfast of those who you might not trust completely. Peanut butter is the essence of a good life, but one must beware of the purity of the product. Things such as Jif® are not strictly peanut butter. They are peanut spreads, and might contain corn syrup, sugar (a lot of sugar), and hydrogenating agents. Yum. Real men prefer peanut butter which, in my book, is made with peanuts and a little salt. That’s it: just peanuts and salt. Some otherwise reasonable people prefer crunchy, but I will take it smooth.

“But Sherm,” you say, “that kind of peanut butter separates with oil on top and even when I mix it up, it still sticks to the roof of my mouth.” To which I can only respond, “Yeah, want some more?”

Peanut butter is primarily used for sandwiches. The classic, of course, is PB and jelly. There are even restaurants devoted to PB and J (this one is in New York). But the creative geek does not stop there with such an obvious construction. My favorite is creamy organic peanut butter piled high with crispy bacon on sourdough bread. My family doctor actually retched when I told him that, but we do not let criticism sway us. Occasionally I will pile a fried egg on top of my peanut buttered toast and eat it open-face style. I am not alone in creative peanut butter sandwiches. Can you name a famous person who loved peanut butter and banana sandwiches? Do you have a favorite variety we might not have tried?

Stopping at the humble sandwich is both uncreative and ungeeky. The ways that peanut butter can be conveyed from container to mouth are numerous. Women in the Midwest have known for years the reason God put a groove in celery is to load in peanut butter, making it more attractive to their children who would probably be scarfing up potato chips if offered pure celery. But I go further and dip carrots and even chips in pure peanut butter. The peanut butter in Reese’s cups is not my favorite, and the chocolate seems to have a lot of wax in it, but still, they are good. My wife buys luscious chocolate spheres that are filled with peanut butter and chocolate and which do not last long in our house. She also makes a peanut butter based dip for artichokes for special occasions.

This is the truth. Years ago I earned a free pass to the San Diego County Fair by entering in the pie making contest. My entry: peanut butter pie, naturally. I had innocently entered it thinking only of the free pass. In those days, I was a graduate student and habitually broke, so that seemed a good way to scam a free day at the fair. But things went a bit bad when my pie made it to the last round of judging and several reporters started to interview me because I was the only man to enter a pie. Women were giving me nasty looks. It could have gotten ugly; luckily I was eliminated before they got to the ribbons.

Another time I burned up a perfectly good blender trying to make my own peanut butter from peanuts that I roasted myself. Not to be deterred, I bought a heftier one. You, too, can make your own. The example I choose is for those who prefer crunchy — just to show that I am open-minded.

Finally, the folklore has it that peanut butter was invented by George Washington Carver. Alas, while he did contribute, the honor of invention should go to Marcellus Gilmore Edson, with US patent 306,727, who seems to have precedence unless we give credit to an unknown Aztec who first made peanut paste, which might be the same thing we call peanut butter. Trivia: in Holland it is called peanut cheese because the word butter is restricted.

So remember to celebrate next January 24, National Peanut Butter Day, with a hefty peanut butter and bacon sandwich. Bet you did not know we had a Peanut Butter Day.

CC licensed Flickr photo by The Eggplant