An American Staple: The History Of Peanut Butter And Peanuts

An American Staple: The History Of Peanut Butter And Peanuts

Did your mom pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for you to take to school as a child? Did she pack a book on the history of peanut butter? Maybe just a bag of a few delicious peanuts? Maybe not every day, but at least some of the time. It is also more than likely there was always a jar of peanut butter in the house. Most houses seem to have an unopened jar in the cupboard or an opened one in the refrigerator.

Peanuts themselves are also a popular snack item. Salted, roasted, naked, everyone has their preference. One thing many can agree on is that they are tasty. They can be great on their own as well as when incorporated into a variety of snack mix recipes. Not to mention other finger foods like pretzels or rice crackers.

It’s interesting to learn the history of peanuts. And about how they made their way into the hearts of our tastebuds as well as our homes.

Origin – Nuts To Butter

According to the National Peanut Board, the plant itself most likely originated in South America, somewhere in Peru or Brazil. Historical references tell us that these cultures had created pottery in the shape of peanuts as far back as 3500 BC. Records tell us that European explorers most likely first discovered peanuts in Brazil as early as 1500 BC. However, we did not grow them here in the United States until the early 1800s when they first planted peanuts as crops in Virginia. You can find this detailed history on the National Peanut Board Website.

At first, they were primarily used for their oil and also as feed for livestock. In terms of human consumption, they were only considered suitable for poor people to eat. They spread to the northern part of the country after the Civil War when the Union Soldiers brought some home with them. As the US approached the end of the 19th century, PT Barnum made peanuts popular as a snack item through his circus tours. He would sell bags of hot roasted peanuts to the crowds he attracted at his shows.

How Sandwiches And The History Of Peanut Butter Come Together

Today, the US has found peanuts to be the 12th most valuable cash crop. This has a farm value of over 1 billion US dollars according to the US Peanut Council. Peanut butter accounts for about half of the U.S. edible use of peanuts—accounting for $850 million in retail sales each year. Both children and adult groups find it a very liked and popular sandwich spread. Why? Because it is both nutritious and economical.

The other half of U.S. consumption is divided equally between snack nuts and confectionery. Innumerable amounts of baked goods and candies also use peanuts as an ingredient. From peanut M&M’s to grandma’s homemade peanut butter cookies, there is no end to how good they taste. They are great when you pair them with chocolate and other sweet ingredients. With the holiday season upon us, we know you’ll be looking to buy peanuts in bulk for many of your favorite dessert recipes.

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