published Friday, November 4th, 2011

November is National Peanut Butter Lover's Month, but get ready to pay extra

Peanut butter is used as topping on bananas, celery, apples, bread and even pickels.  November is national Peanut Butter Lovers' Month but higher prices are dampening the celebration.
Peanut butter is used as topping on bananas, celery, apples, bread and even pickels. November is national Peanut Butter Lovers' Month but higher prices are dampening the celebration.
Photo by Jenna Walker.

If Kayce Foote doesn't get her peanut butter every day, she gets a little cranky.

"I'm pretty upset if my jar of peanut butter is empty," she said.

Foote, and other "exuberant" peanut lovers, as she called herself, are celebrating National Peanut Butter Lovers Month. According to the National Peanut Board, "the amount of peanut butter eaten in a year could wrap the earth in a ribbon of 18-ounce peanut butter jars one and one-third times."

Foote said her favorite ways to have peanut butter are spread on pancakes, mixed with maple syrup or on Oreos. Nearly any edible surface, she said, is worthy.

"I just remember my grandmother would always make me peanut butter sandwiches," said the Southern Adventist University senior. "Peanut butter on toast, peanut butter on everything -- on apples, on celery. I put a spoon in the jar and lick it. I still do that."

A poorly performing United States peanut crop, due to drought and humidity, has caused a peanut shortage this year, leading to a reduced supply. The price of peanut butter will increase up to 40 percent as a result, experts say.

"It's Economics 101," said Mark Dvorak, spokesperson for the National Peanut Board, who pointed out that even with the price hike the cost of a typical peanut butter sandwich will only increase about four cents.

Foote said the increase in price will likely not have an affect on how much peanut butter she consumes.

"If I don't have my peanut butter, I usually go a little crazy," she said, "so I'll probably always buy it, no matter what the price is."

Pairings for lovers

* Peanut butter and bacon. This is the other key ingredient to the "Elvis" sandwich. Peanut Butter & Co., the New York- based sandwich shop selling all things PB, also combines its Mighty Maple peanut butter with crisp bacon. If bacon can be married with chocolate, perhaps peanut butter then as well?

* Peanut butter and mayonnaise. In 1968, Ladies Home Journal offered a recipe for a sandwich consisting of peanut butter, mayonnaise, shrimp, raisins, apple, celery, onion, powdered ginger and lime or lemon rind.

* Peanut butter and pickles. Peanut Butter and Co. offers a sandwich called the "Pregnant Lady" with peanut butter and pickles.

* Peanut butter on hamburgers. Clocked, in Athens, Ga., is only one of a growing number of establishments that serves a burger with peanut butter.

* Foote said her most unusual combination has been spreading peanut butter on watermelon slices.

Non-food uses for peanut butter

* Spread it on a pinecone and sprinkle with bird feed for an easy bird feeder.

* Use it as mouse bait.

* Roll pills in peanut butter for animals.

* Use peanut butter to remove gum from hair.

* Shave with peanut butter, the oil will soften the skin.

Famous combos

* Peanut butter and jelly. According to the National Peanut Board, the average child will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by the time he or she graduates high school.

* Peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. The "fluffernutter" sandwich is beloved, but in 2006, Massachusetts state Sen. Jarrett T. Barrios announced he planned to file legislation banning the sandwich in schools. Barrios later dropped his proposal.

* Peanut butter and chocolate. The most famous example of this combination is the Reese's peanut butter cup, which was invented in 1928 by H.B. Reese, a worker for the Hershey's Chocolate company.

* Peanut butter and banana. Perhaps best associated as part of the "Elvis" sandwich, peanut butter and bananas is also a favorite of Dvorak.

* Peanut butter and celery. The McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign called "Ants on a Log," a combination of celery and peanut butter, topped with raisins, a "smart snack."

Random facts about peanut butter

* The first person to patent peanut butter was Marcus Gilmore of Montreal, Quebec, in 1884.

* Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth.

* Women and children tend to prefer creamy peanut butter, while men opt for chunky.

* There are about 540 peanuts in a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.

Peanut butter around the globe

* For sweeter spreads, Europeans favor Nutella, a chocolate hazelnut combination, over peanut butter.

* In Asian cuisine, peanut butter is mixed with chilies, soy sauce and coconut milk, among other ingredients, for a spicy, savory accompaniment to meat and noodles.

* Mafe, a peanut butter and tomato-based stew, made with chicken, beef or lamb, is a traditional dish of the Wolof people of Senegal, West Africa.

Sources: The Food Network, Serious Eats, Peanut Butter & Co., www.epicurean.com, National Peanut Board, www.chowhound.com

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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