PB&J and me
July 13th, 2010
03:00 PM ET
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Devna Shukla is a Production Assistant for CNN's AC360°

Okay, I admit it. I'm not a so-called "foodie." I often have to Google terms such as "eau de vie" and "varak" while watching cooking shows. I'd rather have French fries over foie gras and a bowl of cereal over ceviche.

Moving from Los Angeles to New York last year, I thought I might have a shot at becoming a real foodie. With some of the best restaurants in the world easily accessible, I was excited to explore the culinary and culture world that is New York dining.

Sadly, my quest took a sharp detour. After having lunch at one of the most esteemed restaurants in New York, I found myself extremely sick and plagued by stomach issues. Through all the missed eating opportunities and doctors visits, I’ve found a newfound appreciation for an American classic: the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

There is something so simple yet dynamic about two pieces of bread, peanut butter, and jelly. I can’t even begin to calculate the number of PB&Js I've had over the last year, let alone my entire life. Whenever I take a bite of one, I think about the times my Mom made my lunch and put so much peanut butter in my sandwich that I could barely chew. I think about running to dance classes and field trips to the museum. Now, there is something about the consistency of taste, yet surprise that makes me look forward to this sandwich each and every day.

I've found that I’m not alone in my appreciation and borderline obsession with peanut butter and jelly. Two other AC360 colleagues and I are now in a PB&J Club, secretly supporting each other and our love for this sandwich.

PB&J embodies what I love about food. Two people can have an appreciation for the same item - like a sandwich - yet have their own unique spins to it. Do you put peanut butter on both slices of bread? Only on one side? Do you cut the crust off or like your bread toasted? The variations of this classic are endless.

Thanks to New York, I’ve taken my peanut butter and jelly to a new level. I’ve experimented with different jams (fresh raspberry is delicious!) and have tried a variety of delicious, fresh, locally produced peanut butters (including almond!)

Maybe I'll never be a true food connoisseur, [Editor's note: we'd argue that she clearly is one already -- at least in our book] and maybe I'll eventually grow out of my peanut butter and jelly phase. In the meantime, I look forward to pushing the boundaries of one of the most classic sandwiches of all time - and my next PB&J.

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Filed under: Bite • Dishes • Obsessions • Sandwiches


soundoff (490 Responses)
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    November 26, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Reply
  3. John James Truscelli

    ‎"Can PB Find The Jelly?" A new and great childrens book...available now at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Books A Million websites. Word is out that kids are lovin it. Check it out and tell your friends about it.

    .

    October 31, 2011 at 10:43 am | Reply
  4. '65 Model

    Brian from Queens had me drooling as he captured the makings of the classic PB&J. Thanks for taking me down memory lane. Gotta get me the makings for some nostalgic sandwiches!

    November 4, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Reply
  5. Bernard Brown

    Don't forget about the light environmental footprint of the PB&J! Our group, the PB&J Campaign, uses the classic sandwich as the 'mascot' to show people the impact of eating a plant-based meal.

    Bernard Brown
    http://www.pbjcampaign.org

    October 1, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Reply
  6. Yum!

    Peanut butter (trader joe's organic, please.. no added nastiness for me), an all-fruit jelly, sliced banana, nutella, and some homemade marshmallow fluff.

    September 29, 2010 at 8:42 am | Reply
  7. sharzad

    Peanut butter on one bread, chocolate jam on the other bread. Both crusts on. Sip hot Earl Gray tea in between bites. Yum!

    September 29, 2010 at 1:30 am | Reply
  8. Mary J

    I prefer apple jelly on my PB&J.

    September 28, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  9. Mike

    Love PB&J but hate it when it gets soggy? Here's the solution for the perfect PB&J:

    1) Spread peanut butter on BOTH slices of bread all the way to the edges and all the way around. Make sure it covers all the bread with no gaps in the middle. It needs to be realtively thick.
    2) Place a healthy big glob of jelly in the middle of one slice and spread to within 1/2 inch of the edges
    3) place the other piece of bread on top and "seal" them together with the peanut butter on each side ensuring no jelly escapes.

    Voila! No soggy bread from the jelly, and perfect PB&J flavor.

    September 27, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Reply
  10. Anne

    Usually it's one PB&J after hard workouts in the morning and two for lunch...then I have PB on low-sodium Ritz with Honey drizzled on each as an appetizer while making dinner.... Always organic – sometimes a little chunky, sometimes a bit more smooth. I laugh at people that say it's not healthy for you!! It's my main source of fat intake as an endurance athlete. I go through several jars a week and don't plan on stopping. I'm having a love affair and his name is peanut butter and jelly... just don't tell my fiance.

    September 27, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Reply
  11. pam

    My daughter just had to have her PB&J sandwiches (made just so) every day for lunch; and, like alot of moms, I commented that some day she'd turn into one. Darned if I didn't come across an absolutely hysterical poem about a little girl who does just that! If you want to read something funny, check out "Sandwich Sister" in Suzie Bitner Was Afraid of the Drain. It probably won't cure any PB&J addictions, but it's definitely something sandwich lovers will relate to. :)

    September 1, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  12. Peter

    I've been having PB& J since I was about 10 years, and except for certain time periods in my life (such as college and summer camp), I've eating it at least, 5 times a week for lunch, and sometimes, 6 times in a week. I do make a "healthy" version of it, though. I use whole wheat bread, freshly grounded peanut butter (although with the price of that on the rise, I don't know how much longer I can keep that up) and to drink, I have fat-free milk. The only thing "bad" ingredient is the sugar in the jam that I use ("preserves" to be more exact). It's a delicious and a "no-brainer" form of eating each day. I don't have to decide each day, "Hmmmmm. What am I going to have for lunch today?" ;)

    September 1, 2010 at 10:19 am | Reply
  13. David

    I've become something of a purist with peanut butter. Only the natural stuff, no hydrogenated fats.
    After that, anything goes. Slice up a fresh baked crusty loaf, thick layer of PB on one side, and any of a variety of jams. Served still-warm from the oven on a crisp autumn or winter afternoon with a hot cup of coffee topped with a scoop of chocolate ice cream, it would be difficult tell the difference between that and Heaven's foyerway.
    Its amazing how difficult it is to get a PB&J sandwich in a sandwich restaurant. There's only one here in the DFW area that I know of, and it only serves PB banana and honey. It's good, but not as good as miine.

    August 16, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Reply
  14. BahBajan

    1.Crusts on, slightly toasted, PBJ on both sides, raisins, lightly sprinkled with cinnamon. Sometimes add a few Lays chips.

    2. Mix cream cheese and PBJ untill smooth. Spread on slightly toasted bread that has been cut into shapes with a cookie cutter. A hit a my son's birthday party.

    July 17, 2010 at 11:28 am | Reply
  15. Southern Style

    While not sandwiches, I like PB with syrup on pancakes or waffles. You can also mix PB with Sugar Cane syrup (or maple, if you are a Yank) on a plate and then dip hot homemade biscuits in it. <- Dessert in the deep south.

    July 16, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Reply
  16. Zucker family

    Crusts on, PB on one side & jelly – Dad
    Crusts on, sunflower butter on both sides & jam – Mom
    Crusts on, just jelly – child # 1
    Crusts off, sunflower butter on both sides – child # 2
    Child # 3 is too young to eat, but his personality tells me he will eat it any way it is served

    July 15, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Reply
  17. Lynne

    bread, layer of peanut butter, bread, layer of jelly, bread. Triple decker PBJ!

    July 15, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Reply
  18. STW

    PB and honey, grilled.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  19. Rebecca

    I like to make "sushi" snacks for kids by putting the PB&J on a tortilla – flour or whole wheat (actually, corn might be good too) – then adding a banana, rolling and slicing. They love it! And so do I...

    July 15, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Reply
  20. Roberta

    I know what I'm having for breakfast tomorrow: a grilled, organic pb & strawberry jelly on whole wheat. This will be my first grilled pb&j, thanks to all these fabulous comments! Next on the list to try: pb&j with potato chips.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Reply
  21. Chris Sosa

    I too share your obsession with PB&J's. I enjoy mine on crusted wheat bread with all-natural peanut butter on one side, and spreadable raspberry or strawberry fruit (akin to jam) on the other. People often marvel at the density of my sandwiches. Some call them "disgusting," I say they have character.

    July 14, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Reply
  22. Niki

    The best way is a toasted English muffin, lightly buttered with PB on one side and strawberry preserves on the other! YUMMM!!!!

    July 14, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  23. erin

    peanut butter and chocolate chip sandwiches..... MMMMmmmmMMMmmm

    July 14, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  24. LA

    I am a fan of the smooth pb no j foldover on wheat. Perfect ratio of PB to bread.

    July 14, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Reply
  25. Gigi

    This topic is so refreshing! I love, love, love PB and Nutella .... phew, need to run to the kitchen. :o)

    July 14, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Reply
  26. Mia

    PB&J is great, but I'll admit, I never thought about "pushing the envelope" on this American Classic until reading this article. I like a lot of the comments in here with their suggestions for various toppings and bread types, and I can say that you have all inspired me to experiment!

    July 14, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Reply
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