is popular mainly in the United States, Australia, the
United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, Papua New Guinea,
New Zealand, Turkey and The Netherlands, but is
overshadowed by Nutella (chocolate and hazelnut spread) in
other parts of Europe.
It also has above-average
popularity in the Philippines, parts of the Middle East,
South Korea and other areas where Americans have
maintained a strong presence in recent decades. It is
manufactured in China, India and other emerging markets.
In Israel, peanut butter has been used as the coating of
Israel's most popular snack, Bamba crisps.
The first peanut butter was the ground paste that the
ancient Pre-Columbian Mayan and Aztec civilizations of
Mexico used as the base for a number of their
In 1890, George A. Bayle
Jr. began to sell ground peanut paste as a Vegetarian
protein supplement for people with bad or no teeth. In
1893, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg originated an early variety
of peanut butter at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle
Creek, Michigan. Kellogg, along with his brother, W.K.
Kellogg, patented a process for making peanut butter in
1895, but it used steamed peanuts rather than roasted
peanuts. Contrary to popular belief, the renowned botanist
George Washington Carver had no hand in inventing this
Peanut butter was made in
Australia by Edward Halsey for Sanitarium Health Food
Company on May 29, 1899 and was sold as early as June 16.
Peanut butter was widely introduced in 1904 by C.H. Sumner
at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (Saint Louis World's
Fair) which also popularized the ice cream cone, hot dog
Founded by Benton Black,
Krema Products Company in Columbus, Ohio began selling
peanut butter in 1908 and is the oldest peanut butter
company still in operation today. Other early peanut
butter brands were sold by Heinz and Beech Nut.
In 1922, Joseph L.
Rosefield developed modern peanut butter by using finer
grinding, hydrogenation, and an emulsifier to keep the oil
from separating. This created a creamy texture unlike the
earlier peanut butter described as gritty, or pasty. He
received a patent for stable peanut butter which had a
shelf life of up to a year.
Swift & Company
adopted the technology for their E.K Pond peanut butter
which they had introduced somewhat earlier in 1920. In
1928 they changed the name to "Peter Pan". Peter
Pan was originally packaged in a tin can with a turn key
and re-closable lid but switched to glass during World War
II. In 1932, Rosefield left that company. He formed the
Rosefield Packing Co. and began selling "Skippy"
peanut butter in 1933.
Peanut butter became a
very profitable business in the United States. Currently,
the best-selling American brand is Jif, a product
introduced by Procter & Gamble in 1958. Jif is now
made by the J.M Smucker Company.
Australian health food
company Sanitarium Health Food Company, has been making
commercial peanut butter since 1898. Sanitarium still
makes peanut butter today.
There also exist other
nut butters, made from almond, cashew, and hazelnut.
Modern peanut butter
Nearly 50 percent of the U.S. peanut production went
to peanut butter factories in 2001. This makes the U.S.
the world's largest peanut butter supplier and consumer.
Peanuts grown in other countries are usually harvested for
cooking oil called peanut oil.
There are many types of
peanuts. Small-seed peanuts are rich in oil and usually
grown for peanut butter and oil. In the U.S., Runner Types
and Spanish Types are two families of peanuts grown in
southern states including Alabama, Florida, Georgia,
Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. The first three states
produce 60% of the peanuts that are used in peanut butter.
After harvest, peanuts
are sent to factories for inspection. The inspected
peanuts are roasted in ovens. After roasting, they are
rapidly cooled by air to stop cooking. This helps to
retain its color and oil contents.
The cooked peanuts are
then rubbed between rubber belts to remove the outer skin.
The kernels are split with the hearts removed and then
cleaned and sorted. Next, the peanuts are sent to the
The peanuts are ground
twice: pulverized to small bits first, then ground with
salt, sweetener and usually a stabilizer to keep the oil
from separating. So-called "old-fashioned" or
"natural" peanut butter typically does not
contain a stabilizer. The oils will separate after a time;
these varieties are frequently stored in the refrigerator,
which prevents the oil from separating back out. Skippy
recently introduced a "natural" peanut butter
which does not require any stirring. It does, however,
contain palm oil as a stabilizer.
In the United States,
peanut butter must contain a minimum of 90% peanuts,
according to US food laws. Artificial sweeteners,
artificial colors and preservatives are not allowed. (This
is why some peanut butter manufacturers' low-calorie or
low-fat or high artificial products instead call
themselves peanut spread.)
Some brands may add salt and
sugar (indicated by dextrose, sucrose or fructose on the
label) to suit the taste of the average consumer (or even
molasses, as Jif does), while other brands offer peanut
butter without such additives for those who prefer the
unadulterated peanut taste.
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