Peanut butter & jelly ended sandwich classism
Like the grilled cheese, the PB&J isn't remarkable in its physical form. It's important because of what it meant to the world of sandwiches, and food in general.
"The peanut butter & jelly is particularly important because it marked the end of sandwiches as an upper-class food, and made them something everyone ate," said author and food historian Andrew Smith. "After the invention of sliced bread (1928), sandwiches became something people could make at home, and perhaps most importantly, became something children could make themselves. The PB&J is kind of symbolic, as the first sandwich that truly resonated with kids."
The peanut butter & jelly is quintessentially American ("Even peanut butter is an American invention," Jensen said). Its adoration is heavily fueled by pangs of nostalgia. For most of us, it was our first foray into "cooking." It transcends time, and has largely remained unchanged for more than century. It can even be considered a "gateway sandwich."
"It's the first thing we learn to make as kids," Warner said, "but it's a very complex flavor combination. It's a great step for our developing tongues to get this flavor juxtaposition in one bite, and to pave the way for more complex foods."
Like the sandwich itself, the peanut butter & jelly is a complex culinary stroke, masquerading as a simple dish. And like America, its true power lies not only in what it is, but what it represents. So the next time you bite into a PB&J, salute the stars and stripes, think about your childhood, and just try not to shed a patriotic tear along the way. This is America. And this is our sandwich.
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