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It’s National Peanut Butter Month: Go Nuts!

November 4, 2010

Whether you like it crunchy or smooth and no matter which brand you prefer (and people are devoted to their brands!) it’s National Peanut Butter month, so enjoy the treat that has been around since 950 BC. Americans love their peanut butter as evidenced by the fact that we eat 700 million pounds a year (3 lbs per person)!

Peanuts weren’t originally found in the U.S. it’s believed that the peanut made it to Africa from Peru and were brought by early South American explorers. The peanut was then traded to Spain, and from there made it to the Americas.

After they made it to the American shores, peanuts were grown commercially in North Carolina as early as 1818 and in Virginia in the 1840s. George Washington Carver used the peanut as a replacement crop in 1890 when the cotton crop was destroyed by weevils. Carver is credited with being the father of the peanut industry for his work with the legume.

Peanut butter, in all its creamy deliciousness, began with a doctor in St. Louis in 1890. It’s believed he was looking for a protein substitute for people whose teeth were in too poor of condition to chew meat. The doctor ground the peanuts in a meat grinder and made paste.

Not long after that Dr. John, and his brother, W.K. Kellogg patented a peanut butter paste process before they turned their attention back to cereal.

The United States didn’t actually see the introduction of peanut butter into the mainstream until the St. Louis World Fair in 1904 when you could purchase it at a concession stand at the fair.

In 1928, Pond Company produced a smooth peanut butter where it was sold under the Peter Pan brand. Jif was produced by Proctor & Gamble in 1958 and remains the most popular brand even today.

In addition to Americans consuming the most peanut butter, the United States is also the biggest supplier of peanut butter.

You may wonder, though whether peanut butter is healthy as it contains saturated fat and sodium.  Dr. Walter C. Willett, a nationally known nutrition expert wrote that the presence of saturated fat doesn’t automatically kick a food, such as peanut butter, into the “unhealthy” camp.

A typical 2-tablespoon serving of peanut butter has 3.3 grams of saturated fat and 12.3 grams of unsaturated fat. In moderation, some saturated fat is okay. Eating a lot of it, though, promotes artery-clogging atherosclerosis, the process that underlies most cardiovascular disease.

Peanut butter also gives you some fiber, some vitamins and minerals (including potassium), and other nutrients. Unsalted peanut butter has a terrific potassium-to-sodium ratio, which counters the harmful cardiovascular effects of sodium surplus. And even salted peanut butter still has about twice as much potassium as sodium.

So, grab a piece of wheat bread, a banana or a stalk of celery and slather on some peanut butter and enjoy!  Here’s

10  fun peanut butter facts:

  • Aachibutyrophobia is a fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth)
  • The two major peanut producers in the US are Georgia and Texas; peanuts are also Georgia’s official state crop, with at least 50% of the production being used for peanut butter
  • An 18 ounce jar of peanut butter needs 850 peanuts to be made
  • Former presidents, Jimmy Carter and Thomas Jefferson, were peanut farmers
  • Peanuts are not actually nuts: they are legumes and grow underground
  • Peanuts account for 2/3rds of the total snack “nuts” consumption in the USA
  • The world’s largest peanut is 20 feet tall, and it’s currently kept in Turner County, Georgia
  • One acre of peanut crop yields 2860 pounds of peanuts, enough to make 30000 peanut butter sandwiches
  • Americans on the West Coast prefer chunky peanut butter, whereas those in the East Coast like it creamy
  • The reason peanut butter sticks to your mouth is that its high protein content absorbs moisture
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