Peanut Butter - Creamy or Crunchy?

Evidence of peanuts goes back 3880 years to Peru – just one of the intriguing facts I learned from Jon Krampner’s book, Creamy and Crunchy: An Informal History of Peanut Butter, the All-American Food (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History). Seriously, who would have thought lowly peanut butter would need such a distinguished title?

This entertaining history covers a multitude of facets of peanuts and the peanut butter industry including the brand wars for top ranking, music honoring peanuts and peanut butter, the lack of international interest in this American product, and congressional fights that went on for years over the minimum amount of peanuts that must be in the product to be called peanut butter. [The final verdict: 90% – otherwise, it must be called peanut spread. )

More than a dozen peanut butter recipes lace through the book ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Peanut butter and pickle sandwiches, Elvis spread, and peanut butter meatballs seemed too weird to try. Several recipes appealed to my sweet tooth – Jimmy Carter’s Peanut Butter Pie, the standard peanut butter cookies with the criss-cross top, and peanut butter cheesecake.

This book, well-researched from outside sources and the author’s personal experience, is often flavored with his opinions. My favorite was his observation, with which I concur, “Boiled peanuts are an acquired taste at best.”

I recommend the book to all peanut butter lovers. You may have noticed that I changed the “and” in his book title to an “or” in my blog title. The issue is dear to the heart and elicits a firm opinion. It is one on which Al and I agree. We aren’t picky about brands, but since the onset of the empty nest, only crunchy resides in our cabinet.