Peanut butter is arguably the most popular spread in the US. Affordable, nutritious and delicious, over 90 per cent of American households can’t live without it. Indeed, Americans eat seven hundred million pounds [317,5 million kilos] of peanut butter every year, and the peanut butter & jelly sandwich has become an American staple that the country’s kids absolutely adore. But who invented the stuff and how did it become such a huge hit? It all began when a certain Mr. Kellogg started looking for an alternative to meat for delicate stomachs.


As far as we know, the Incas were the first to grind peanuts, but it wasn’t until a few centuries later that someone did this to create a spreadable cream. John Harvey Kellogg, doctor and nutrition pioneer, was the director of theBattle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. He was an advocate of healthy eating and promoted plant-based diets. He was looking for a high-protein, easily digestible alternative to meat, and he started experimenting with nuts. In the end, he chose peanuts, which were nutritious and cheap, and he filed a filed a patent for an early form of peanut butter in 1895. Soon after that, Joseph Lambert, who had worked for Kellogg, invented a machine to roast and grind peanuts on a large scale and started producing it and selling it himself.


Initially, peanut butter was considered a delicacy, a fine spread for sophisticated people concerned about health. But during World War One it started appearing on many Americans’ menus due to food shortages and rationing. When sliced bread was introduced, in the late 1920s, children started making their beloved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, best known as PB&J sandwiches.

During World War Two, American troops in Europe were sent tins of peanut butter by the brand Skippy, who had introduced the technology of hydrogenation to prevent the spread from spoiling. Being a protein-packed alternative to meat, it was a very good ally in the trenches. At home, food rationing led civilians to rely on peanut butter again, making it even more popular.


Although peanut butter is available in most countries nowadays, no one beats Americans in their passion for the spread. They pair it with anything you can think of: jelly, honey, mayonnaise, apple sauce, onion, banana, lettuce, you name it! The sandwich filling of choice of the singer Elvis Presley was famously peanut butter, banana and occasionally bacon, so much so, that this combination has been called ‘the Elvis’ ever since. As the Americans say: if you can eat it, you can pair it with peanut butter.