I May Have Grown Up, But I’ll Never Grow Out of Peanut Butter and Jelly

published Aug 11, 2015
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(Image credit: Brent Hofacker)

Being a food editor, people have made a lot of assumptions about the way I eat. Specifically, when I made the transition to working mostly from home, there was the general thought that I must have really upped my lunch game.

I used to laugh at the idea, but really, it depends how you look at it: I’m no longer buying questionable sandwiches from the corner deli, but I’m not cooking myself a fancy meal either. Although what I am having is something that’s truly and utterly delicious, from the first to last bite. The kind of timeless meal that has the power to make you feel good inside and out: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I thrive on diversity when it comes to meals and snacks, with the exception of this sandwich. It’s one of the few things I can eat day after day and never get tired of.

I can’t tell you the first time I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, although I can say with certainty that I’ve been eating them for as long as I can remember. It started with pillowy white bread, one side coated with a thin spread of crunchy Skippy, the other side with a thick layer of grape jelly. It was the sandwich of my childhood. Just the thought of it makes my belly feel warm and satisfied.

Over time, my tastes have changed and evolved; I eventually moved from soft white to hearty wheat bread, from chunky to smooth to eventually natural peanut butter, and from grape to strawberry jelly. These days I also take my PB&J heavy on the peanut butter and light on the jelly. But while my peanut butter and jelly sandwich has grown up, I will most certainly never grow out of it. My affection for this sandwich is timeless and true — it knows no age.

When we think about “good food,” it’s easy to think of gourmet dinners and fancy restaurants. I certainly think of those things, but “good food” takes on a deeper meaning for me. It doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated; in fact, it’s usually better when it’s not.

It only takes three simple and inexpensive pantry ingredients to make a great PB&J. I love each of them on their own, but the end result is far greater than the sum of its parts. And it’s more than just the way it tastes — each and every time I find this sandwich in front of me, nostalgic feelings and happy memories of my childhood come shining though. If that isn’t a hallmark of good food, I’m not quite sure what is.

At the end of the day, simple things go the farthest. There are few meals (because yes, I think of this as a meal) I can make so quickly and effortlessly that satisfy and reward me with so much comfort. The PB&J just cannot be topped.