Tahlequah Daily Press

January 24, 2013

Sticky subject: The merits of peanut butter

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Peanut butter can be an emotional topic. Families have feuded over brand names, and cooks have squared off over whether smooth or chunky is best in their recipes.

Given its high profile, it’s no wonder the nutty substance has its own day: Jan. 24, National Peanut Butter Day. Peanut butter lovers are urged to honor the legume byproduct by baking peanut butter cookies, spreading the paste on a good piece of bread, or dipping a spoon straight into the jar and licking it clean.

Peanut butter has a somewhat surprising history. In 1890, a St. Louis physician came up with the idea of packaging peanut paste for people with bad teeth, according to www.PeanutButterLovers.com.

Chocolate is often a favorite ingredient to combine with peanut butter, but it can be mixed with just about anything to please the consumer. Probably the most famous peanut butter recipe includes two slices of bread, peanut butter and grape jelly.

For Morgan’s Bakery owner Linda Morgan-Shoun, peanut butter is best presented in cookie form.

“We’re all about peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies here that make you stand up and say ‘hi,’” she said. “We also make peanut butter squares that are covered in nuts. We have so many cookies that we make, but peanut butter cookies are [something we make daily]. We also make a peanut butter cake truffle. I’m a peanut butter nut, especially if you put it together with chocolate.”

In 1903, Dr. George Washington Carver – whom many view as the father of the peanut industry – came up with more than 300 uses for peanuts. The Kellogg brothers, in 1895, patented the process of developing the food paste with steamed nuts, which are roasted today because the process improves the flavor. Krema Products Co. in Columbus, Ohio, began selling peanut butter in 1908, and remains the oldest peanut butter company still in operation.

Whatever the use or whoever takes credit for the idea, peanuts and peanut butter are a good source of protein, said Cherokee County OSU Extension Educator Heather Winn.

She noted that 1 tablespoon of peanut butter constitutes a 1-ounce serving.

“Eating peanuts and certain tree nuts, like walnuts, almonds and pistachios, may reduce the risk of heart disease when consumed as part of a diet that is nutritionally adequate and within calorie needs,” Winn said. “Because nuts and seeds are high in calories, eat them in small portions and use them to replace other protein foods, like some meat or poultry, rather than adding them to what you already eat. In addition, choose unsalted nuts and seeds to help reduce sodium intakes.”

Winn pointed out some peanut facts, some of which may be a bit obscure.

“The Five Civilized Tribes brought peanuts to the Indian Territory, planting them in small gardens. After the general settlement of Oklahoma Territory, residents also planted parcels of the nuts, often selling or trading them to neighbors,” she said. “The peanut is not a nut, but a legume related to beans and lentils. Sliced peanut butter was developed at Oklahoma State University. By law, any product labeled peanut butter in the United States must be at least 90 percent peanuts.”

Winn added that the world’s largest peanut butter and jelly sandwich was created in Oklahoma City on Sept. 7, 2002, by the Oklahoma Peanut Commission and the Oklahoma Wheat Commission.

“The PB&J weighed in at nearly 900 pounds, and contained 350 pounds of peanut butter and 144 pounds of jelly,” she said. “The amount of bread used to create the sandwich was equivalent to more than 400 one-pound loaves of bread.”

In responding to the Daily Press’ Facebook post asking readers’ opinion about peanut butter, favorite brands and ways to consume it, Lorrie Harris-Houck noted any brand of peanut butter will do when it comes to a snack.

“I’m not picky about the brand of peanut butter, but I do love peanut butter on apples,” she said.

Christi McDonald likes to purchase a name brand and offered some other snack combinations.

“I like Jif Extra Crunchy when I can afford name brand or it is on sale. Otherwise, Walmart has the best crunchy store brand,” she said. “I don’t like it in cookies, but do like it on sandwiches with jelly, and pancakes with syrup. I am also a fan of it on crackers or celery.”

Shawn Perez suggested trying the product with a meat byproduct.

“[I like prefer] Jif, plain,” he said. “I also have eaten peanut butter and bologna.”

Shelly Bailey doesn’t consume peanut butter, but the birds around her home seem to like it.

“I do use it to get the birdseed to stick to the bread for the feeders,” she said. “So far, the birds have not expressed a preference on brands.”

January Wyatt noted an organic brand produced here in Native America.

“[There is] no salt [and] no sugar. [It’s] organic. Oklahoma Food Coop offers a really nice peanut butter, and I recently found some dried peanut butter at Reasor’s, which is great in recipes,” she said.

Kathy Peterson lives in a “two peanut butter family”; she likes Jif, while her husband prefers Skippy. Steve Ford prefers Peter Pan Crunchy, and likes it best with honey on a flour tortilla. Christina Gonzales shares his brand prefers, but favors PB with banana slices on toast.

“We use Jif at The Drip,” said local entrepreneur Albert Soto. “We make a hot pressed PB&J sandwich. You can’t go wrong with a PB&J and a glass of milk.”


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