A simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich graces the lunchbox of thousands of students across the country. Here at CB, many students partake in this nationwide school-time tradition. Others enjoy peanut butter with fruit, veggies, pretzels, or even just a plain spoon. Peanut butter enthusiast Olivia Busch (‘18) shared with the Talon […]
A simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich graces the lunchbox of thousands of students across the country. Here at CB, many students partake in this nationwide school-time tradition. Others enjoy peanut butter with fruit, veggies, pretzels, or even just a plain spoon.
Peanut butter enthusiast Olivia Busch (‘18) shared with the Talon her favorite parts about this spreadable substance.
“I think the texture, the taste, the versatility of its functions [are its best qualities]. You can eat it on sandwiches, apples, by itself on a spoon, with celery, ants on a log,” she says. “I like it on my sandwiches, like peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches, or with banana.”
The possibilities are endless when it comes to this multipurpose macro-molecule. Yet to add even more variety, some people also turn to one of its equally-adaptable relatives. Many students enjoy similar spreads made of other nuts, seeds, and soybeans.
Olivia is not too picky about the different types of butters.
“I think they’re really good,” she said casually. “I like sunflower butter. I also like almond butter.”
This queen of aquatic sports sometimes can’t even tell the difference between them.
The school cafeteria has recently made the switch from selling PB and J to the more allergy-friendly SB and J— sunflower butter and jelly. According to Olivia, they are still just as satisfying.
“I don’t have a problem with them because there are people who can’t eat peanuts or even be around peanuts, and I think sunflower butter is almost identical to peanut butter, because it’s smooth still. It does taste a little different, but not that much.”
While the difference between peanut butter and sunflower butter is rather insignificant for Olivia, for some people it is a matter of life and death.
Anna Urias (‘20) has an anaphylactic allergy to nuts of every description — peanuts, pine nuts, almonds, cashews, and all other nuts are banned from her house. She also faces the difficulty of examining labels and researching factories to ensure that she steers clear of cross contamination.
Yet it doesn’t bother the friendly freshman when people around her enjoy a PB and J at lunch time.
“As long as I don’t touch it or eat it, which I wouldn’t do because of common sense, then I’m pretty much fine.”
Anna has tried peanut butter substitutes, but she is not personally a fan of the allergy-friendly options.
“They’re really bad,” she said adamantly. “They just taste really weird.”
Anna takes a home-packed lunch every day and avoids the cafeteria, but the freshman said she would consider buying a sandwich at school if there was a guarantee that there was no cross contamination in the bread factory, the sunflower butter factory, the jelly factory, or the campus kitchen. There are a lot of factors that go into making sure she is safe.
Mrs. Jana Morris ’99, Assistant Director of Admissions, has the same problem with her six-year-old son, George. Like Anna, George has an anaphylactic allergy to nuts, and because of his young age, his mother must take great precautions to keep him out of contact with all nut products.
“We as a family [used to] eat nuts on salads and in pasta dishes and so on,” she says. “My daughter, who is eight, used to have snacks with peanut butter.”
Although the family had enjoyed nuts in a variety of ways before George was born, their life changed dramatically after finding out about his allergy. From checking labels to making sure he keeps his hands away from public surfaces, the family has become hyper-aware for their child’s safety.
“The dietary aspect was nothing in comparison to his day-to-day actions. When he started attending school, we had to be aware not only of what he was consuming but of what the people around him were consuming as well,” Mrs. Morris says. “His allergy is so severe that even if he were to come in contact with peanut butter, he could go into anaphylactic shock and ultimately die.”
Even when George goes to the zoo or the park, he has to wear long-sleeved pants and long-sleeved shirts to keep his skin away from anything that someone might touch after eating nutty substances.
“Peanut butter, if you notice the consistency, is very sticky. It’s less that I’m concerned that he’d consume it than that it would come in contact with his skin and he would touch his eyes or mouth or nose.”
Although Mrs. Morris has banned all nuts and all products threatened by cross-contamination from the home, it is difficult to keep nuts out of every place her son frequents.
“For his kindergarten class, I supply all the snacks for them,” she began. “We eat at very few restaurants, and when we do, we have established relationships with those restaurants so we know where there is cross contamination.”
But despite the limitations placed on George’s diet, the family avoids using substitutes for peanut butter.
“He’s only six, and we’re afraid of his inability to determine the difference between the two. If his six-year-old buddy says, ‘No, this is sunflower seed butter,’ he’s going to take his friend’s word for it,” she says. “Because the consistency is so similar, until he is able to truly read a label himself, we don’t want to confuse him.”
Like Anna, Mrs. Morris is not particularly fond of peanut butter alternatives. Although they are often intended to facilitate the lives of people who cannot have peanut butter, food allergies can be very complex and switching butters is not always a quick fix.
There are still many benefits to peanut butter substitutes, however. They can help people to become more allergy conscious, or just provide a nice variation from the plain old PB and J.
Not that there is anything wrong with the creamy, crunchy, sticky, yummy classic.