Peanut butter

Peanut butter

"Smooth" peanut butter in a jar
Type Spread
Main ingredients Peanuts
Cookbook: Peanut butter  Media: Peanut butter

Peanut butter is a food paste popular in many countries, a spread made primarily from ground dry roasted peanuts, but often containing additional ingredients that modify the taste or texture. The United States[1] is a leading exporter and itself consumes $800 million of peanut butter annually.[2] Comparable preparations with other nuts make for a variety of nut butters.


A Meal Ready to Eat or "MRE kit" that contains peanut butter packets.

The use of peanuts dates to the Aztecs and Incas,[3][4] and peanut paste may have been used by the Aztecs as a toothache remedy in the first century of the Common Era (CE).[5][6]

Marcellus Gilmore Edson (1849 – 1940) of Montreal, Quebec (in Canada) was the first to patent peanut butter in 1884.[7] Edson's cooled product had "a consistency like that of butter, lard, or ointment" according to his patent application which described a process of milling roasted peanuts until the peanuts reached "a fluid or semi-fluid state". He mixed sugar into the paste to harden its consistency.

John Harvey Kellogg, known for his line of prepared breakfast cereals, was issued a patent for a "Process of Producing Alimentary Products" in 1898,[6][8] and used peanuts, although he boiled the peanuts rather than roasting them. Kellogg served peanut butter to the patients at his Battle Creek Sanitarium.

Early peanut-butter-making machines were developed by Joseph Lambert, who had worked at John Harvey Kellogg's Battle Creek Sanitarium, and Dr. Ambrose Straub who obtained a patent for a peanut-butter-making machine in 1903.[6][9] "In 1922, chemist Joseph Rosefield invented a process for making smooth peanut butter that kept the oil from separating by using partially hydrogenated oil"; Rosefield "...licensed his invention to the company that created Peter Pan peanut butter" in 1928 and in "...1932 he began producing his own peanut butter under the name Skippy".[6]

As the US National Peanut Board confirms, "Contrary to popular belief, George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter."[10] January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day in the United States.[11]


The two main types of peanut butter are crunchy (or chunky[12]) and smooth. In crunchy peanut butter, some coarsely-ground peanut fragments are included to give extra texture. The peanuts in smooth peanut butter are ground uniformly.

In the US, food regulations require that any product labelled "peanut butter" must contain at least 90% peanuts; [13] the remaining <10% usually consists of "...salt, a sweetener, and an emulsifier or hardened vegetable oil which prevents the peanut oil from separating".[14] In the US, no product labelled as "peanut butter" can contain "artificial sweeteners, chemical preservatives, [or] natural or artificial coloring additives."[14] Some brands of peanut butter are sold without emulsifiers that bind the peanut oils with the peanut paste, and so require stirring after separation. Most major brands of peanut butter add white sugar, but there are others that use dried cane syrup, agave syrup or coconut palm sugar.[15]


In 2012, organic peanut butter was available.[16] Since the market for organic peanut butter is small, there is not enough demand to support manufacturers who produce only organic peanut butter. As a result, most organic peanut butter is produced in factories that also make non-organic peanut butter.[16]

Production and consumption

A 2012 article stated that "China and India are the first and second largest producers, respectively", of peanuts.[6] The United States of America " the third largest producer of peanuts (Georgia and Texas are the two major peanut-producing states)"[6] and "more than half of the American peanut crop goes into making peanut butter."[6]


Nutritional profile

Peanut butter,
smooth style, without salt
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 2,462 kJ (588 kcal)
20 g
Starch 4.8 g
Sugars 9.2 g
Dietary fiber 6 g
50 g
25 g
Thiamine (B1)

0.11 mg

Riboflavin (B2)

0.11 mg

Niacin (B3)

13.2 mg

Pantothenic acid (B5)

1.1 mg

Vitamin B6

0.55 mg

Folate (B9)

35 μg

Vitamin E

5.9 mg


54 mg


2.2 mg


179 mg


1.5 mg


335 mg


649 mg


0 mg


2.7 mg

Other constituents
Water 1.8 g
Alcohol (ethanol) 0 g
Caffeine 0 mg
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Peanut butter is an excellent source (> 19% of the Daily Value, DV) of protein, dietary fiber, vitamin E, pantothenic acid, niacin and vitamin B6 (table, USDA National Nutrient Database).[17][18] Also high in content are the dietary minerals manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and copper (table).[17][18] Peanut butter is a good source (10–19% DV) of thiamin, iron and potassium (table).[17][18]

Both crunchy/chunky and smooth peanut butter are sources of saturated (primarily palmitic acid) and unsaturated fats (primarily oleic and linoleic acids).[18]

Peanut allergy

For people with a peanut allergy, peanut butter can cause a variety of possible allergic reactions.[19] This potential effect has led to banning peanut butter, among other common foods, in some schools.[20][21]

Other uses

Peanut butter cookies, a popular type of cookie made from peanut butter and other ingredients

As an ingredient

Peanut butter balls, a type of confectionary product.

Peanut butter is included as an ingredient in many recipes: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peanut butter cookies, and candies where peanut is the main flavour, such as Reese's Pieces, or various peanut butter and chocolate treats, such as Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and the Crispy Crunch candy bar.

Peanut butter's flavor combines well with other flavors, such as oatmeal, cheese, cured meats, savory sauces, and various types of breads and crackers. The creamy or crunchy, fatty, salty taste pairs very well with complementary soft and sweet ingredients like fruit preserves, bananas, apples, and honey. The taste can also be enhanced by similarly salty things like bacon (see peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich), especially if the peanut butter has added sweetness.

One snack for children is called "Ants on a Log" with a celery stick acting as the "log". The groove in the celery stick is filled with peanut butter and raisins arranged in a row along the top are "ants".[22]

Plumpy'nut is a peanut butter-based food used to fight malnutrition in famine stricken countries. A single pack contains 500 calories, can be stored unrefrigerated for 2 years, and requires no cooking or preparation.[23]

As animal food

Peanut butter inside a hollow chew toy is a method to occupy a dog with a favored treat.[24] A common outdoor bird feeder is a coating of peanut butter on a pine cone with an overlying layer of birdseed.[25]

Other names

A slang term for peanut butter in World War II was "monkey butter".[26] In the Netherlands peanut butter is called pindakaas (literally "peanut cheese") rather than pindaboter ("peanut butter") because the word butter was a legally protected term for products that contain actual butter, prompting Calvé, the company which first marketed it in the country in 1948, to use kaas instead.[27] In the US, food regulations require that "peanut butter" must contain at least 90% peanuts, otherwise it must be called "peanut spread".[28]

See also


  1. "U.S. Exports of (NAICS 311911) Roasted Nuts & Peanut Butter With All Countries]". US Census Bureau. 2012.
  2. Chakravorty, Rup. "Breeding a better peanut butter". American Society of Agronomy. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  3. Bureau, Commodity Research (August 24, 2007). "The CRB Commodity Yearbook 2007". John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved September 29, 2016 via Google Books.
  4. Christopher Cumo. Foods That Changed History: How Foods Shaped Civilization from the Ancient World to the Present. ABC-CLIO. p. 284.
  5. Cumo, Christopher (2015). The Ongoing Columbian Exchange: Stories of Biological and Economic Transfer in World History: Stories of Biological and Economic Transfer in World History. ABC-CLIO. p. 146.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "The History of Peanut Butter". Huffington Post. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2016. The Aztecs mashed roasted peanuts into a paste, somewhat different from what we know of as peanut butter today.
  7. "US Patent #306727".
  8. "US Patent #604493".
  9. Innovate St. Louis (August 25, 2011). "Innovation in St. Louis History – Innovate St. Louis". Retrieved December 18, 2011.
  10. National Peanut Board, Who Invented Peanut Butter?, retrieved 2016-11-24.
  11. "American Holidays – United States National Holidays". Retrieved December 18, 2011.
  12. Spiegel, Alison (July 23, 2014). "Smooth vs. Chunky Peanut Butter: The Great Debate". Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  13. Blitz, Matthew (14 October 2015). "Why Midcentury Lawyers Spent 12 Years Arguing About Peanut Butter". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  14. 1 2 Rosengarten, Jr., Frederic (2004). The Book of Edible Nuts. Courier Corporation. p. 162.
  15. Patel, Arti (21 September 2015). "Sugar In Peanut Butter: What Type Of Sugar Are You Eating?". Huffington Post Canada. Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  16. 1 2 Wright, Simon (2012). Handbook of Organic Food Processing and Production. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 129.
  17. 1 2 3 "Basic Report: 16167, USDA Commodity, Peanut Butter, smooth per 100 g". US Department of Agriculture, National Nutrient Database, version SR-27. 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  18. 1 2 3 4 "Nutrition facts for peanut butter, smooth style, without salt per 100 g". Conde Nast for USDA National Nutrient Database, version SR-21. 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  19. "Food allergies in schools". Centers for Disease Control, US Department of Health and Human Services. 2015. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  20. James Barron (September 27, 1998). "Dear Mr. Carver. This Is a Cease and Desist Order.". New York Times.
  21. Labi S (31 January 2010). "Schools' banned food list has gone nuts". The Daily Telegraph, Sydney, Australia. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  22. "Kids' Recipe: Ants on a Log". April 24, 2012. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
  23. Michael Wines (August 8, 2005). "Hope for Hungry Children, Arriving in a Foil Packet". The New York Times.
  24. "KONG and Other Food Puzzle Toys for Dogs: Usage and Recipes". Retrieved October 19, 2013.
  25. "Pine Cone Bird Feeder". Wisconsin State Environmental Education for Kids!.
  26. Jacobs, Jay (1995). The Eaten Word: The Language of Food, the Food in Our Language. Carol Publishing Corporation. ISBN 1-55972-285-1.
  27. Der Nederlanden: Calvé, pindakaas van;Calvinisme, Volkskrant, 30 October 2010
  28. Blitz, Matthew (14 October 2015). "Why Midcentury Lawyers Spent 12 Years Arguing About Peanut Butter". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 15 October 2015.

Further reading

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