Go make yourself a peanut butter sandwich. That was the most infuriating phrase of my childhood. it was said to me by my mom absolutely every single time I said I was hungry.
I vowed long ago, that this was something I would never, ever say to my own children. They wouldn’t have to go through what I did. Now that I am a dad, when my kids complain to me that they’re hungry, I opt to use the much more genial “Hi hungry, I’m Dad”.
Peanut butter sandwich. Come. On.
I should clarify, that when my mom said ‘peanut butter sandwich’ the image that came into my head was that of a single piece ( heel probably) of cheap brown supermarket sandwich bread smeared with smooth PB, and folded over on itself.
This it quite literally the most unappealing and actually upsetting version of a sandwich I can possibly think of. Even as a child, just the suggestion of it offended the sandwich loving little me. “When have you ever seen me eat a peanut butter sandwich!!?” I would ask indignantly. “What’s wrong with a peanut butter sandwich?” She would reply.
The short answer is: it is incomplete.
I love peanut butter sandwiches. There just always, always must be an ‘and’. I’ll accept peanut butter on toast for a quick breakfast, but apart from that it must always have a companion. When attempting to put PB on an sandwich, a chaperone is required for it to enter my tummy.
I will say to the credit of my mom, that in spite of her terrible initial suggestions, she is also the one who showed me most of the best things to put with peanut butter, including my unconventional favourite. What is my favourite? Well, instead of just revealing it here and now like a normal person, why don’t we instead take a journey down listicle (ugggh) lane, ranking my top 5 PB ‘and’ wiches, and giving a little background on each.
Some notable omissions from this post will be things like fluffernutters. Honestly, a fluffernutter is not a sandwich. That’s a treat. I have to explain pretty regularly to the two small children I live with that treats are not food. Assuming you’re reading this, you must be at least somewhat of an adult, and I should not have to explain that to you as well. I’m also leaving off peanut butter and pineapple. I’ve never tried it. It sounds pretty good actually. I just don’t casually have pineapple kicking around. That, and this is meant to be a list of old staples, not the new-fangled.
Another couple of quick points: I use exclusively crunchy peanut butter. I have some pretty strong opinions on other varieties, but I don’t want to alienate anyone. If you don’t like peanut pieces, or you like to stir your PB every time, or if you can afford fancy other nut butters, by all means, use yer smooths, all naturals, or cashew/almond/whatevers. One fairly non-negotiable in my mind though is you really should use sandwich bread. Don’t get fancy. When it comes to PB, the bread is mostly just a vehicle.
Ok here we go.
5. PB and Honey (Pooh Sandwich)
That’s what my mom called them. Pooh (pronounced poo) sandwiches. This of course was a lot of fun, because normally you weren’t allowed to use bathroom words while eating. The “pooh” is in reference to Winnie the Pooh, the cartoon bear who you may remember was rather fond of honey. Not sure how the peanut butter comes into it. Also, I can’t really find any other reference to this name anywhere in my research, so maybe my mom made it up? Anyway, fond memories, but I haven’t had one of these in a good long while. Definitely more for kids. To sweet for this old dad.
4.PB and Garlic
This one comes from the missus. A few cloves of garlic minced, and a generous bit of salt. She swears it cures what ails ya. Get it? Ails. Ail is french for garlic…..COME ON!
Anyway, I prefer savoury to sweet most of the time and am a pretty big garlic fan. It’s very good. The only thing with this sandwich is that it’s not really a lunch sandwich. It can be of course, but it seems more like an evening snack. I almost moved it up a spot because it is very good, but its still a bit of new one to me so we’ll leave it in 4th for now.
3. PB and Banana
Also sometimes known as The Elvis. His version however, was fried, with mashed or caramelized banana, and sometimes with bacon as well. Personally, I feel like an out of breath fat guy just thinking about that combo. That said, of course I had to make one. Fried in the bacon fat, just like the king preferred. Thought it seemed like it should be larger than life good, much like his music, it was just fine. Good even. The extra effort of cooking the bacon and frying the sandwich just didn’t seem that worth it. Sliced banana and regular sandwich bread is a also a fine option. These are good sandwiches, but full disclosure, I don’t really like bananas. It’s possible that could soon change. Everyone I know over 40 seems eat a banana a day (2 on bad days), but I’m not there yet. Until that day comes, #3 is the place for it.
2 PB and Jam
The all time classic. In the US it seems like its most often referred to as peanut butter and jelly instead of jam. I’m not going to go too far into the difference between Jams and jellies, but I will say the only acceptable jelly in my mind is grape. Otherwise it should be jam. Raspberry or strawberry preferably. Marmalade would be unusual, but acceptable. Fruit butters are right out.
If I were to rank the best jam flavours for PB and J, it would go like this: Raspberry, Grape, Strawberry, Other.
Everyone is entitled to their own preference.
It’s a very good sandwich.
1 PB and Pickle
This is my favourite. As stated, I do not have much of a sweet tooth. The garlic is good but not as satisfying in crunch and sourness as the pickle. Some folk say they prefer bread and butter pickles, but I much prefer dill.
On doing my research, I learned that this was a depression era sandwich. Pickles and peanut butter were cheap, and when put together in bread, also very filling. There’s also a story of a pregnant lady going into the PB Specialty restaurant Peanut Butter and Co in New York and asking for pickles on her sandwich. They obliged, and it’s currently on their menu as ‘The Pregnant Lady”. I’ll stick with my depression era origin thanks. I personally find the association between pregnant ladies and pickles extremely cliche and stupid. Pickles are good with lots of things. They’re sour and crunchy and bright. Pretty much exactly whats missing in many cases. In the case of the basic peanut butter sandwich especially. If this sounds weird to you, its just because you haven’t tried it yet. Explore some new horizons ya ding dong.
I also found that this has become a big thing on the internet in the last few years, and I’m a bit late to the game in my praise for the almighty Peanut Butter and Pickle. It’s a bit millhouse-y to say “I knew the dog before he came to class” but I really did! PB and pickle is something my mom made for me fairly often as a wee lad, and it is incredibly satisfying and filling.
There was a Netflix show out a while ago called ‘ Fat Salt Acid Heat’ referring to the 4 things that make good food good. Think about it. This is very much 3 of the four. Throw a splash of hot sauce, or a pickled jalapeno on there, and you may just achieve full gourmet status. (That’s a thing, right?)
Well, that’s about how I feel regarding peanut butter. Above all, it’s easy. That’s likely why my mom always suggested it. In spite of my objections, I still do dabble in it when the mood strikes. If there’s a version I missed, let me know in the comments. I think next week i’m gonna get into my other childhood staple: Bologna. Follow and stay tuned.
Please subscribe for more Sandwich Dad content!