There aren't many remarkable qualities to the National Institute of Standards and Technology's jar of peanut butter (otherwise known as "Standard Reference Material 2387"). It's just a mix of the usual peanut butter suspects: peanuts, hydrogenated fat, sugar, and salt, but it's been pored over by scientists for more than a decade, and it's kinda the Platonic ideal of peanut butters. That's why it costs $761 for a jar.
The peanut butter, which was made by a company "whose name you would recognize" (according to scientist Katherine Sharpless, who works at the NIST), was made at the behest of the government for the sole purpose of its use in experiments using gas chromatographs, mass spectrometers, and other scientific gadgets whose names are increasingly obscure. Essentially, it stands as a paragon of what peanut butter should be, and is used as a reference by other companies and agencies that need a nice, stable peanut butter to sample.
Back when it was made in 2003, the peanut butter cost $140 per jar, but now costs over five times that much due to the number of researchers that have examined it. We'd, uh, like to examine it too. For science.
Its expiration date is 12/31/2019, so we've got some time.
Adam Lapetina is a Food/Drink staff writer for Thrillist, and wonders how much they charge for Reference Jelly. Read his musings at @adamlapetina.