The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, March 24, 2020 1:00 am

Peanut butter for life

American staple goes with more than just jelly

TERRI RICHARDSON | The Journal Gazette

I've always thought it's funny when experts who crunch numbers about Americans' habits come up with an “average” resident.

Like, the “average” American spends $69 daily. The “average” American watches 2 hours of TV a day. Or, on “average” eats two snacks a day. Or, Mr. or Miss “Average” owns a cellphone. 

The one I recently ran across is that the average American eats 3 pounds of peanut butter per person a year. It was then I realized, at least on this statistic, I was not average. I, on average, go through a 16-ounce jar of peanut butter a week. Granted, my husband helps. So, I guess in reality an 8-ounce jar for myself. With that information, I would totally surpass 3 pounds in one year. (I can't think about what I consume during the holidays when a lot of my baking requires peanut butter.)

Apparently, number crunchers also have figured out that the average American schoolchild will have munched through 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before they graduate.

I found that is a very real possibility, especially if you have a picky eater at home. I have a friend whose son has eaten a PB&J sandwich every day for lunch since he has been little. He just turned 15. So, you do the math.

Apparently northeast Indiana residents have a serious love of peanut butter.

I didn't know how much until I asked for stories from area residents who love the spread. I was flooded with responses.

Monia Alexander also loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The 84-year-old Fort Wayne resident eats one almost every day. She ate them when she was a little girl and her mom made the jelly for them. Her favorite jelly is blackberry or grape, but as for the peanut butter, she eats crunchy most of the time.

And as a mother of four children, did she feed her children PB&J sandwiches? “Oh sure!” she says.

And there's more.

David Lybarger, 88, of Fort Wayne, says he ate a toasted peanut butter sandwich every morning for breakfast when he was a teen in high school. However, he wasn't able to get peanut butter when he served in the Air Force during the Korean War.

Ravenna Hapner, who is diabetic, makes her own jams to avoid sugar and to go along with her toast covered with natural peanut butter. The 71-year-old Fort Wayne resident saves the last few bites to give to her dogs as a treat.

“Having a full jar of peanut butter on hand was a comfort as a child and remains so now,” Teddie Ramsey, 74, of Bluffton says by email. “Being the first to dig into a new jar is one of my favorite things to do.”

This love of a certain food makes sense, especially when peanut butter is usually a household staple for many of us growing up. Figures show that 297 million Americans reported eating peanut butter in 2019, according to Statista, an online statistics and market research company, based on the U.S. Census data and Simmons National Consumer Survey.


And some of the ways our readers say they consume it is, well, a little out there.

Jane Lengacher says by email that she is a little embarrassed about how quickly she can go through a 48-ounce jar of peanut butter. “So I have a little trick I use to hide it a bit,” the Leo-Cedarville resident writes.

When she opens a new jar, she only takes the peanut butter from the center of the jar and doesn't make any marks on the sides. That way, when she puts it back on the shelf, it looks like it has not been touched. 

She says her brother actually came up with the idea. He does it so his daughter doesn't know he's been in the jar.

When it comes to what to eat with the peanut butter, Pat Connor of Harlan uses dill pickles or bananas or whatever she has on hand.

Ever heard of a peanut butter omelet? When Bruce Vandezande of Columbia City makes this dish, his wife leaves the kitchen, he writes by email. Maybe it's because the omelet includes peanut butter, carrots, celery, cheese and jalapeños. I can't be totally sure, but it appears he also may add tuna for a little extra protein.

Jerry Rathbun's favorite peanut butter recipe is scheduled for 9 every night. The Fort Wayne man mixes two scoops of vanilla ice cream, a big scoop of peanut butter and white or chocolate milk in a tall glass.

But getting back to those peanut butter sandwiches. It's not just jelly that residents combine with the spread.

Mark Racine likes to make his “Super-duper Double.” It consists of three slices of sourdough bread, crunchy peanut butter, Miracle Whip and sweet pickle slices. He then divides the mixture onto two pieces of bread before topping it with the third slice of bread.

“Pure heaven!” the Fort Wayne resident writes by email.

Some of us will just have to take your word for it, Mark.

Terri Richardson writes about area residents and happenings that affect their lives in this column that publishes every other week. Email her at or call 461-8304.

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