Chunky or smooth? If you recognize that the subject is peanut butter with just those two words, then you are probably a peanut butter fan. Did you know that Jan. 24 is National Peanut Butter Day? If you are a fan of the yummy, protein-packed peanut butter, get ready to spread the love this day, as it is the perfect time to satisfy your peanut butter cravings. Americans love this creamy and sometimes crunchy concoction so much we need a special day dedicated to our affection for this delicious delicacy.

George Washington Carver, an inventor and a scientist, is often erroneously credited for the invention of this concoction. Carver created over 300 products from the peanut plant, including soaps, face and hand lotions, shampoo, dyes for leather, glue, wallboards, and insulation. His determination to improve the welfare and nutrition of America’s farmers led to his creation of a list of foods and recipes for farmers to use that centered on peanuts as a source of protein.

But Carver did not invent peanut butter. In 1916, as he was advocating for peanuts as a supportive, alternative crop for farmers to grow, peanut butter was already popular. In 1840 a New Yorker named Rose Davis started making peanut butter after her son saw Cuban women grinding the nuts and spreading them on bread. Evidence shows that Aztecs may have even done something similar as early as the 15th century.

However, the first person credited with creating peanut butter was a French Canadian man named Marcellus Gilmore Edson, who patented a peanut paste in 1884. Fourteen years later, John Harvey Kellogg’s institute created the first streamlined process to mass-produce the product, and it was quickly considered a snack for elite society members as it was served as a protein source in wealthier hospitals. Over time, it has become widely used mainly in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as a quick, affordable, protein snack.

Peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut candy are some of the most popular products in the USA. Today, peanuts are the 12th most valuable cash crop grown in the United States with a farm value of over one billion U.S. dollars, according to The American Peanut Council. The prime market for U.S. peanuts is edible consumption. Americans eat more than six pounds of peanut products each year, worth more than $2 billion at retail.

Peanuts are a nutritious food with numerous health benefits. This protein powerhouse contains more protein than any other nut. Nutrient-dense peanuts and peanut butter possess many vitamins and minerals that are often lacking in the American diet. For example, they are an excellent source of niacin. A high intake of niacin from foods may lower Alzheimer’s disease risk by 70%. Peanuts are a good source of magnesium, which is essential for bone health and reducing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. Peanuts also contain vitamin E, biotin, and copper.

Peanuts contain approximately 80% unsaturated fat, which is considered the “good” fat. This beneficial plant fat can help lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation. Resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in peanuts, protects against several types of cancer and heart disease and extends life span. Phytosterols in peanuts are associated with a lower risk of cancer and heart disease in many studies. Peanut oil contains 38-43% more phytosterols than olive oil.

So, celebrate Peanut Butter Day and spread this delicious concoction on your favorite bread, and enjoy the taste of this delicious and popular sandwich.

Nancy J. Schaaf is a retired English/literature educator and also a retired nurse.

Peanut trivia

  • The average American eats about three pounds of peanut butter per year spending almost $800 million per year on peanut butter. The average American consumes about 3,000 PB &Js in a lifetime.
  • Despite their name, peanuts are legumes, not nuts.
  • The major peanut producing states are: Georgia, Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, Virginia, New Mexico, Arkansas, Mississippi, and South Carolina.
  • Arachibutyrophobia is the name for the fear of getting a big gob of peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth.
  • It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12 -ounce jar of peanut butter.
  • Two peanut farmers have been elected president of the USA—Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter.
  • Peanut butter can be converted into diamonds by subjecting it to extremely high temperature and pressure.

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