peanut butter and jelly sandwich
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18 Things You Didn't Know About Peanut Butter and Jelly

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peanut butter and jelly sandwich
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Trivia in a Jif

If you're packing up a picnic basket for a breezy summer outing, chances are good that a peanut butter and jelly sandwich will find its way inside. And why not? PB&J is among the cheapest sandwiches you can make, packs in a substantial amount of protein, and satisfies picky kids and nostalgic adults alike. But like most classics, this lunch-box mainstay has a long backstory. Here are some interesting tidbits about one of America's favorite foods — and we promise they won't stick to the roof of your mouth. (Hungry for more food trivia? Here are 30 Things You Didn't Know About Your Favorite Childhood Cereals.)

crab-apple jelly
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World War II soldiers eating sandwiches
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World War II Made PB&J a Hit

Both peanut butter and jelly were a staple of soldiers' ration menus during World War II, so it was only natural that GIs began to combine the two, and the sandwich exploded in popularity after the war. Peanut butter, often called "monkey butter" by soldiers, was particularly favored on the battlefield because it was a cheaper source of protein than meat and wouldn't easily spoil.

Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, New York
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We'll Eat Nearly 3,000 of Them in a Lifetime

A 2016 survey by Peter Pan found that Americans will eat an average of 2,984 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which works out to about three a month for roughly 83 years. That might not sound like a lot, but a stack of those sandwiches would still eclipse the Statue of Liberty.

stack of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
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Peanut Butter Pita Pocket
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More Americans Prefer Smooth Peanut Butter

If you slather your PB&J with crunchy peanut butter, you're in the minority. Forty-nine percent of those surveyed by Peanut Butter & Co. in 2019 reported that they like their peanut butter smooth, while 29% prefer crunchy and 20% will happily eat both. Personality-wise, Team Smooth is more introverted than Team Crunchy, according to the survey, as well as more punctual.

Stephen Curry
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An NBA Team Rebelled Against a PB&J Ban

To say that NBA players love peanut butter and jelly is an understatement. The sandwiches, which became a pre-game ritual for the Boston Celtics as they rolled to a national championship in 2008, have become a staple in locker rooms across the country, according to ESPN. Several years later, when a nutrition expert with the Golden State Warriors attempted to ban the high-sugar sandwiches, two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry led a successful revolt.

Classic Peanut Butter And Jelly
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There Is a Right Way to Make a PB&J, According to Twitter

Do you put peanut butter on one slice of bread, jelly on the other, and slap your sandwich together? Or do you spread peanut butter and jelly onto the same slice of bread? A very unscientific poll of Twitter users proclaims the former method the winner by a wide margin.

Temple University
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Smuckers Uncrustables
Sam's Club

Smuckers Lost Out on a PB&J Patent

J.M. Smuckers Co., maker of the lunch-box-friendly Uncrustables peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, probably figured it had little to lose by patenting a "sealed crustless sandwich" in late 1999. It didn't take long for a smaller company to challenge the patent, touching off a legal battle that made Smuckers an easy target for mockery. The company lost its patent in 2005, when a federal appeals court decided that the crustless sandwich was "not novel or non-obvious enough." Still, Uncrustables have faced few major competitors, and Smuckers has expanded the line to include non-PB&J offerings like taco bites, chicken bites, and turkey and cheese.

Astronauts at International Space Station
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Astronauts Make Peanut Butter and Jelly in Space

Astronauts like peanut butter and jelly as much as the next guy, of course, so PB&J is a staple aboard the International Space Station. Of course, it's made a little differently without gravity to aid the process. Instead of two fluffy pieces of bread, astronauts use a simpler tortilla as a base. Squeezable jelly aids in the process, as does a system of velcro and tape to keep jars and utensils from floating away during the sandwich-making process.

It's peanut butter jelly time!
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A Dancing Banana Made PB&J an Internet Meme

"It's peanut butter jelly time!" If that phrase makes you giggle in recognition, congratulations — you've probably been an Internet user for approaching 20 years. For reasons unknown, a pixelated banana that danced to "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" by the Buckwheat Boyz became an Internet phenomenon in 2002. It's been a pop-culture staple ever since, popping up in an episode of "Family Guy," the video game "Fortnite," on T-shirts, and plenty of other places.

peanut butter and jelly sandwich school lunch
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It's Mostly an American Thing

Don't count on getting your peanut butter and jelly fix when you go abroad. Though the peanut butter industry has tried mightily to expand its international clout, a jar of the stuff remains hard to find in many other countries where local tastes have relegated it to a novelty at best. China, where Skippy has a factory, seems to offer the best hope for Americans to export one of its favorite addictions.

Related: The True Origins of 19 Classic ‘American’ Foods

President Bush addressing the media at the Pentagon, September 17, 2001
Wikimedia Commons

George W. Bush Was a Big Fan

Shortly before becoming president, Bush proclaimed that PB&J on white bread was his favorite sandwich in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. Not long after taking office, the 43rd president put his peanut butter where his mouth was, adding peanut butter and jelly to the menu at the White House Mess, a basement dining room open to executive-branch officials. Guests could choose from grape, strawberry, or raspberry jelly.

Related: First Tastes: Favorite Foods of 21 U.S. Presidents

Elvis Presley eating a sandwich
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Elvis Flew to Colorado Solely for a PB&J

The King of Rock 'n' Roll was served a sandwich called The Fool's Gold at a Denver restaurant in the '70s. Made from a loaf of sourdough, peanut butter, blueberry jam, and bacon, the baked sandwich so enamored Elvis that he later flew to Denver from Memphis solely to pick one up for daughter Lisa Marie's birthday. You can still get the sandwich, served up with a hefty side of Elvis memorabilia, at Nick's Cafe in Golden, Colorado.

Related: Surprising Facts About Elvis and Graceland

Jimmy Kimmel hands out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at Emmy Awards
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It Was Handed Out at The Emmy Awards

Ellen DeGeneres famously ordered pizza for members of the audience at the Oscars in 2014. Following in her footsteps, Jimmy Kimmel helped hand out 7,000 PB&Js, many made by his own mother, at the 2016 Emmy Awards. Some lucky celebrities also received juice boxes and handwritten notes from Kimmel's mom with their snack.

PB&J With Tay
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Some Restaurants Serve Only Peanut Butter and Jelly

PB&J With Tay opened in San Antonio last year and serves about a dozen versions of the sandwich including The Kitchen Sink, made with peanut butter, jelly, Nutella, cream cheese, bacon, banana, walnuts, and coconut flakes on Texas toast. Feeling a little more fancy? Head to PBJ.LA in Los Angeles for a high-brow version like the Superfood, featuring cacao nib almond butter and acai or goji berry jam. There's also PeeBeeJays in Aurora, Illinois, where choices include The Swervin' Irvin, made with strawberry lemonade jam and toffee crunch peanut butter.

Related: 30 Eateries That Are Famous for One Amazing Dish

Peanut Butter
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Some People Are Afraid of PB&J

No, we're not talking about people with peanut allergies, though that's a very real reason to keep your distance from a PB&J. There are also people with arachibutyrophobia, which is a documented fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. Symptoms can include heart palpitations, nausea, sweating, tremors, and a "strong fight-or-flight response," according to Healthline.

peanut butter on two slices of bread
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A Simple Hack Can Keep it From Getting Soggy

Tired of pulling a soggy PB&J out of your bagged lunch just a few hours after making it? The secret to keeping that moist jelly from seeping through the bread is simple: Put the peanut butter on both slices of bread, then layer jelly in between, according to Lifehacker.