It’s National Peanut Butter Day! Let’s make it weird…
After reading one too many moms on my Facebook feed describe the lovingly-made sandwiches they packed in their kids lunches for the back to school season, something in me snapped. I don’t know what got into me, but suddenly I thought it would be fun to write an article that rounded up all of the awesome variations on the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“There’s got to be a lot of great combinations out there,” I thought, calling Nutella, artisan jams and homemade sourdough bread to mind. And, to make things really interesting, why not try them all myself and write fun, pithy reactions about the nostalgia attached to eating a childhood sandwich. Ambitious and excited, I crowd sourced: I asked everyone on my Facebook and Twitter feed about their favorite versions of the old favorite. It was then I realized just how wrong I was. This was not going to be fun at all.
“Peanut butter and scrambled egg,” one of my (now ex-) friends immediately offered. “Just jelly and mayonnaise!” someone else chimed in. By the time I got to peanut butter and jalapeños, I was ready to do some serious de-friending.
But I had committed to the project, so I took a trip to the grocery store to stock up on ingredients. As a disclaimer, I kind of hacked this project. I did buy sprouted whole grain bread, French cornichons instead of pickles, and a few varieties of thick, seed-packed jams in addition to the smallest jar of grape jelly I could find. Essentially, I made choices that solidified the fact that my future children are going to hate me a whole lot.
I also want to confess the fact that I started a small kitchen fire while assembling the sandwiches. I would give you the details but honestly, all you really need to know is that I’m down one tea towel but still have all of my eyebrows and lashes. It was a relatively minor loss.
You’re really interested in the peanut butter bonzana, though, aren’t you? Well, if you so insist on reaping enjoyment out of my misery, we might as well do it with pictures.
Peanut Butter, Jelly & Potato Chips
Okay, I used sweet potato and carrot chips for this one because I’m an obnoxious snob. This was the overwhelming favorite of the group, and only with slight variations. Some suggested classic, salted and ruffled chips and others branched out with Doritos or Fritos. They offer a satisfying crunch and, had I made less bourgeois choice, I imagine the whole affair would be nicely salty.
Fried Peanut Butter, Bacon & Banana
This one was undeniably awesome. No wonder Elvis loved it so much; with a toasty exterior and soft, melty peanut butter laced with strips of smoked bacon and sweet, ripe banana, there were a lot of awesome things happening in this sandwich. Consider it a case of three great parts coming together for a truly great sum.
Peanut Butter, Bacon & Pickles
I was warned that the addition of pickles was largely a pregnant woman-favorite, but I had high hopes. After all, the peanut butter, bacon and banana had been a huge success. All I have to say about this one is… no. This is decidedly a case of three delicious ingredients that do not belong within 5 feet of each other. But maybe it was my fault; it could have been the cornichons.
Peanut Butter, Jelly & Raisins
I mean, sure. This one was pretty benign. As my dining companion pointed out, it was kind of like having double jelly. The fact that we were also heavily drinking wine made it a triple threat. At this point, I began to get palate fatigue.
Grape Jelly & Mayonnaise
NOT COOL. This was, by far, the grossest thing I have eaten in a long time (and I dabble in organ meat). The texture was slippery on slippery, and the cloying sweetness of the jelly did no favors for the eggy mayonnaise. Pass.
Peanut Butter & Scrambled Egg
My college roommate suggested this one. Seeing as I never witnessed her eating a peanut butter & scrambled egg sandwich while studying, I can only assume that this was either a post-graduation find, or else a secret attempt to get back at me for all of the nights I spent listening to John Mayer and crying myself to sleep.
Peanut Butter & Jalapeños
Meh. This didn’t make me want to vomit, but it was just weird. I can see the potential: a stir-fry spiked with spicy peppers and doused in a peanut-based sauce would be delicious. But this was room-temperature peanut butter and cold, raw jalapeños. I could take it or leave it. Preferably leave it.
Peanut Butter, Jelly & Maple Syrup on A Waffle
I was told an Eggo waffle was a must for this one, so I bought a pack, removed two waffles and crammed the box in the back of my freezer (related: does anyone want to buy a gently-used box of Eggo waffles?). I was a little reluctant, seeing as I’m typically a fan of the homemade variety, but this was pretty damn delicious – in that sticky-sweet, processed kind of way. “It tastes like a cookie,” my friend said. And it did. I ate the whole thing to drown out the memory of the last half hour and sat back, satisfied.
Grown-up peanut butter & jelly sandwiches may not be as fun as the kiddo version, but they weren’t a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon. And, hey, I have some great ideas for my next dinner party. Who wants an invite?