smith andrewIt is National Peanut Butter Month. Who knows why. Probably Skippy and Jif paid for the next twenty years of November. Anyway, we’ll play along. Let’s salute the pioneers who mixed a sneered-at pea for poor people with sugar, oil, and a few things no one can identify, and produced a lunchtime staple.

I myself carried peanut butter sandwiches to grade school at least 4,000 times. I never exactly enjoyed this lunch entree. Peanut butter does not age well in a brown paper bag. You need it straight out of the jar for maximum flavor and viscosity. Nonetheless, it gets you through a grueling afternoon of phonics and what my grandmother called “The New Math.”

Today the blog throws it back to the dawn of industrialization, when a legume once considered worthy only for drunks and slaves began a journey into the everyday American diet. Peanuts: The Illustrious History of the Goober Pea is a far-seeing micro-history of the only food that dares to partner with Cracker Jack in popular song. Andrew F. Smith highlights how peanuts teamed with economic distress, wartime conditions, and health trends to transform our culinary landscape. Chock-full of photographs, advertisements, and peanut recipes, this entertaining and enlightening volume is a testament to the culinary potential and lasting popularity of the goober pea.

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