On the Great Husband and Wife Argument Scale, the question of how to properly make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich might not seem like a big deal, but it is. And if you disagree, then you’re obviously not a PB&J aficionado like me.
My wife and I have an ongoing “discussion” (pleasant argument) about the proper way to make the most famous sandwich in America. There are really only two possible ways to make the plain old PB&J.
The first option is to spread jelly on one piece of bread, and then peanut butter on the other, and then bring the two together.
The second option is to spread the peanut butter on a piece of bread, put the jelly right on top of the peanut butter on the same piece, and then put the other piece of bread on top.
I’ve never searched Google for the answer, because frankly, in this instance, I don’t care what Google has to say. The answer is clear. I’m the decider.
It’s completely obvious that the second option is the better way to go. By putting both ingredients on the same piece of bread, I’m left with a pure piece of bread on which I can scrape off any excess peanut butter or jelly as I make the sandwich. No waste. Easy cleanup.
Making the sandwich my wife’s way leaves no clean piece of bread on which to scrape the second ingredient excess. I don’t even want to consider the amount of jelly being wasted in our house just by using this less-than-ideal technique.
(Here’s where I admit that I’m not above licking a knife clean after making a PB&J. However, I feel somewhat barbaric when I do so, hence my aversion to putting myself in such a situation.)
The other argument for the second option has to do with chemistry. I took chemistry in high school, and I’m pretty sure one of the lessons that the fabulous Mrs. Strawbridge taught us was that a bond is stronger when two “chemicals” mix, rather than when they’re just on top of each other.
Putting the peanut butter and jelly on the same piece of bread makes sure they get to know each other and really bond. One absorbs the other until you can’t tell what’s PB and what’s J.
By slathering each on a separate piece of bread and then bringing them together you’re cheating them of the chance for a real bond. It’s like making a chocolate chip cookie by putting the chips on top of the cookie instead of inside it!
There is good news though. PB&J is similar to pizza and ice cream: even when it’s bad, it’s good. So my wife can continue to make her PB&J sandwiches the wrong way, and she’ll still enjoy a good sandwich. She just won’t enjoy the great sandwiches that I do.
Speaking of great sandwiches, the PB&J isn’t a one-trick pony. Since I’ve already explained the basics, let’s get a little bit more advanced. If you’re feeling adventurous, try these variations.
1. Peanut butter and jelly on saltine crackers. It takes a delicate hand when making them, and you’ll have to make about ten to equal one sandwich, but the care and the labor are worth it.
2. Peanut butter and raisins. This began as an emergency jelly substitute, but it has stuck around on its own merit.
3. Peanut butter and bacon on toast. My dad’s been eating these for at least thirty years, so I’m not chalking this up to the Bacon is God craze of recent years. The toast melts the peanut butter, and crispy bacon provides a salty crunch that’s perfect.
4. The double-decker. When a single PB&J won’t do, but two seems like too much. Layers of divine goodness, from the bottom, up: bread, PB, J, bread, PB, J, bread. Wow!
By the way, in case you’re wondering what makes me qualified to pontificate on such matters, you should know that unlike most human beings, whose PB&J consumption probably peaks in childhood, my consumption continues to rise as I age.
PB&J for lunch? Of course. Dinner? Make it two. Breakfast? Why not? Midnight snack? Might as well.
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