Friday, January 3, 2014

Fun Friday Facts #89 Maybe: Peanut Butter

I was at the doctor the other day and they told me I can’t sit down for at least another week and a half on account of my broken tailbone, so I’m writing this while lying down, which is incredibly awkward and probably going to give me carpal tunnel syndrome. The things I do for you people.

I was inspired to write about peanut butter by Julie You Jest, who pointed out recently that the German term for “peanut” translates directly as “dirt nut.” I pointed out that that makes sense because peanuts grow under the ground. Then I promised I’d write a Fun Friday Facts.

I haven't even started yet, and I'm already hungry.

Contrary to popular belief, George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter. He “invented” peanut butter.

That’s not to say that Mr. Carver didn’t discover hundreds of uses for peanuts; he did, including 105 food recipes and at least 100 products including dyes, cosmetics, gasoline, nitroglycerin, paints and plastics. His work with peanuts, soybeans and sweet potatoes was instrumental in an era when monoculture of cotton had caused widespread soil depletion through much of the American South. But that’s another blog post.

Peanut butter was invented by the Incas more than 3,000 years ago. They mixed cocoa powder into their peanut butter because fuck yeah, cocoa powder.

John Harvey Kellogg patented peanut butter in 1895 because of course he did. Kellogg served the concoction at his Battle Creek Sanitarium. Others who claim to have developed peanut butter around that time were the aforementioned George Washington Carver and snack foods purveyor George Bayle.

In the United States, January 24th is National Peanut Butter Day. That’s coming right up! Mark it on your calendars!

Crunchy peanut butter is better for you than smooth peanut butter, because it contains more fiber and fewer saturated fats.

Peanut butter is a base ingredient in Plumpy’nut, a therapeutic food product developed by French pediatric nutritionist Andre Briend and food-processing engineer Michel Lescanne to treat severe malnutrition in famine-stricken countries. Plumpy’nut contains 500 calories per serving, has a shelf life of two years, and requires no preparation or refrigeration. Parents can easily feed it to their young children to help them recover from severe malnutrition without the need for hospital care. Peanut butter is amazing.

It takes 540 peanuts to make a single jar of peanut butter. The average American allegedly eats 6 to 7 pounds of peanut butter each year, according to this dubious website. Seriously, though, who’s eating all that peanut butter? I don’t know anyone who eats that much peanut butter. That’s allegedly enough peanut butter to fill up the Grand Canyon and then some. I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon so I don’t really have a clear concept of how much peanut butter that is, but imagine this full of peanut butter:

Americans spend $800 million on peanut butter each year (again: really? I don’t know anyone who eats that much peanut butter). Peanut butter production and sales contribute more than $4 billion to the GDP.

The average American child eats 1500 peanut butter sandwiches before college. That’s who’s eating all the peanut butter.

Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth. On a related note, they smeared peanut butter inside Mr. Ed’s mouth to make it look like he was talking.

People from the East Coast prefer creamy peanut butter (despite it being higher in saturated fats, I guess) while people from the West Coast prefer crunchy peanut butter. That explains a lot.

According to the National Peanut Board, you can grow enough peanuts in one acre to make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches. The average peanut farm is 100 acres. That’s 300,000 sandwiches per farm, or 20 American school children.

The world’s largest peanut butter and jelly sandwich, weighing 1,342 pounds, was made in Grand Saline, Texas in November 2010. The folks of Grand Saline stole that title from the folks of Oklahoma City, whose 900-pound sandwich won the title of world’s largest in September 2002.

The largest peanut ever grown was grown by Earl Adkins of Enfield, North Carolina. It was four inches long, which is pretty big for a peanut, not so big for a penis.

In many parts of the South, peanuts are known as “goobers” or “goober peas.” The word comes from the Congolese name for peanut, “nguba.”