Today is apparently Peanut Butter Day, for those who track such things, so I’m celebrating with an ode to one my favorite childhood sandwiches. It’s not simply about peanut butter for me today, as the moment I think of it, I always mentally pair it with its famous companion. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, also lovingly known as simply PB&J, was one of the best things about being a kid. Well that, and the lunch box I got to pick out to carry my amazing sandwich, little bag of carrots and apple to school. The first lunch box I remember getting was a Howdy Doody lunchbox. This was a show from the 50’s that got a brief revival in the 70’s as The New Howdy Doody Show. It still featured a little marionette of the same name who is now completely terrifying to watch, but was apparently harmless and even amusing back when I started school. But the real star of the lunchroom show was my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was quite possibly the best tasting treat I can remember and I still crave them even today.
At my last job, a colleague of mine always brought a brown paper sack to work with a PB&J inside. People used to have fun teasing him about it, but I was sort of jealous and thought it was kind of awesome. It’s like getting to be a kid every day and you don’t have to worry about what to bring and whether or not it will keep until lunchtime. No waiting in the line for the microwave, just open the bag and go for it. Brilliant! Sadly, I never copied this wonderful idea as it was all I could do to get myself out of bed and deal with breakfast, but I still love the concept. It’s actually been years since I’ve had one, though I have been known to sneak a spoonful of peanut butter from time to time. Perhaps it’s because the time I tried as an adult, we’d already converted to a grainy nutritional bread. It wasn’t the same as the doughy white bread I had as a kid that would stick to the roof of my mouth on the first bite.
As I’ve grown older, so many things have been replaced for more nutritional counterparts. To me, that’s one of the toughest things about getting old. Leaving behind the wonderful treats you enjoyed as a kid. There are so many newer recipe options that try to mimic those flavors I enjoyed back then in a healthier way, but they all feel like sad substitutes. The point of memories is to actually relive them as they were, not to be reminded of how you shouldn’t have been eating that in the first place. That’s just a horrible buzz kill. So for me, the quintessential version of this tasty treat will always be the kind between two slices of preternaturally white bread that you can roll into little dough balls. Though it may lack any and all nutritional value, it easily makes up for it in entertainment value so I think that’s a win. While so many things change around me as I age into some future adulthood, I have to hold on to those things that are dear to me. Those wonderful times, when nothing else mattered, and it was all about PB&J.