Creamy, crunchy, salty or plain – how do you like your peanut butter? Although it’s not popular in other countries, more than 75 percent of the American population consumes over one billion pounds of it annually.
However, peanut butter has not been immune to social and economic trends. Sales dropped when it got a bad rap for being unhealthy, and risen again when recession-strapped families rediscovered it as a high-protein and cost-effective food.
This prompted Hormel Foods to purchase Skippy for $700 million dollars earlier this month; the company forecasts sales of $370 million this year. “Creamy and Crunchy: An Informal History of Peanut Butter, the all-American Food,” claims to be the first comprehensive history of peanut butter.
The book covers the history of the humble peanut butter’s affect on Third-World hunger, how “Choosy mothers choose Jif” made Jif number one in peanut butter sales, proper peanut butter eating etiquette, and how a salmonella scare almost ruined the entire industry.
In what ways has peanut butter influenced the American economy or society? Has the recession boosted your family’s peanut butter habit? Is there a PB&J in your lunchbox right now? What do you think are all-American foods? And of course, do you prefer creamy or crunchy?
Jon Krampner, author of Creamy & Crunchy: An Informal History of Peanut Butter, the All-American Food (Perseus)