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Peanut Butter and How it Started, How it "Spread"

Courtesy of
Virginia Carolina Peanuts


pb&j sandwich

Related Recipe A childhood favorite - the pb&j

Peanut butter is a childhood staple but how was it created?  Is there really butter in peanut butter?  Here are some answers from Virginia Carolina Peanuts.

There are many claims about where and when peanut butter was invented ....... Africans ground peanuts into stews as early as the 15th century; the Chinese have crushed peanuts into creamy sauces for centuries; Civil War soldiers dined on "peanut porridge" .......... but these uses bear little similarity to the peanut butter we know today

In 1890, an unknown St. Louis physician encouraged the owner of a food products company, George A. Bayle, Jr., to process and package ground peanut paste as a nutritious protein substitute for people with poor teeth who couldn't chew meat. The physician apparently had experimented by grinding peanuts in his hand-crank kitchen meat grinder. Bayle mechanized the process and began selling peanut butter out of barrels for about 6 cents per pound.

At about the same time, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg in Battle Creek, Michigan began experimenting with peanuts as a vegetarian source of protein for his patients. His brother soon opened a nut company which sold this peanut butter, plus other foods, to local grocery stores.

peanutsThe Kellogg patent for 'Process of Preparing Nut Meal' in 1895 described "a pasty adhesive substance that is for convenience of distinction termed 'nut butter ...... The moist and brown product is soft and pasty like butter and is used as a substitute for butter, either for table use or for shortening in cooking. It is in fact a good substitute for animal fats. It has a slightly nutty flavor and is palatably agreeable, besides being far more nutritious than butter."

The Kelloggs steamed (rather than roasted) their peanuts producing a pasty concoction that never became very popular. One of their employees, Joseph Lambert, had worked with the Kelloggs to develop food processing equipment. He began selling his own hand-operated peanut butter grinders in 1896. Three years later, his wife Almeeta published the first nut cookbook, "The Complete Guide to Nut Cookery."

In 1903 Dr. George Washington Carver began his research into peanuts at Tuskeegee Institute-research that would lead him to discover improvements in horticulture and the development of more than 300 uses for peanuts (including shoe polish and shaving cream). His first publication in 1916 introduced Americans to 105 peanut recipes, from peanut soup to coffee. For his work in promoting its cultivation and consumption, Carver is considered to be the father of the peanut industry.

The world was first introduced to peanut butter at the Universal Exposition of 1904 in St. Louis, when C.H. Sumner sold $705.11 of the treat at his concession stand.

peanut butter sandwichPeanut butter's popularity soon spread. Krema Products Company in Columbus, Ohio, began selling peanut butter in 1908.

Peanut butter was first sold in tin cans, but when the demand for metal skyrocketed during the first World War, manufacturers switched to glass jars.

Beginning in 1922, Joseph L. Rosefield began selling a number of different brands of peanut butter in Alameda, California. These peanut butters were "churned" like butter and therefore smoother than the gritty peanut butters of the day.

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