Food

Peanut Butter and Mayo Sandwiches Are A Thing And I Wish I Didn't Know That

There are many issues that deeply divide us and we all know which subjects are safe to bring up around the dinner table or at the office. If you're looking to make friends then it's a good idea to stay away from things like politics.

We just hired a new guy at the office, Ian, and he seemed nice enough at first. He was appropriately chummy, but not overly friendly. We're an open office but it's weird when someone you just meet tries to be your best friend.

Anyway, it was getting to be a thing that he would come sit with a big group of us at lunch. Yesterday everything was normal. We were talking about the usual things, work, home life, sports here and there when this guy pulls out a peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich.

He was right across from me so I got a good look at it. There was this glob of white peaking out from the corner that at first I thought was just bright butter. Then I realized what was going on. I don't think I hid the disgust from my face very well and Ian seemed to notice. Oddly enough though, he didn't understand the cause of my reaction at first.

"Yeah," he said with a chuckle, "I was running late so I had to just throw something together."

Then he took a big bite! That little glob fell out from the corner and I made a little noise in the back of my throat. That's when other people started to notice.

"What the heck is that?" I asked, after managing to keep down the lunch I had been eating.

"...PB and mayo?" Ian said, in almost childlike ignorance, still not understanding that he was violating human decency with his food crime.

There was uproar at the table.

About 12 people all exclaimed some form of disgust or outrage, but another colleague actually took Ian's side. I thought I was going to lose some friends that day.

She said that it's not so weird and it was something she grew up with. Ian said the same thing, I guess his mom used to make it or him. Things were starting to make more sense.

See, I grew up up north, and most of my co-workers did too, but Karen and Ian are both from the South. When I got back to my desk I had to do a little bit of digging and I was shocked at how much there was about peanut butter and mayo sandwiches.

In one of the true "speak of the devil" moments, it's actually been in the news lately.

It seems everyone has one of two reactions: surprise that people are upset and haven't heard of the sandwich, and complete revulsion.

It seems to be a southern staple and probably came about during Depression times. There are a number of weird recipes from that era, some of which I've tried, and it's hard to judge folks for doing what they had to do.

Ian doesn't have to do this. It's very much okay to judge him.

View this post on Instagram

During the Great Depression, people valued high-calorie combinations of protein and fat. Meat and dairy were costly, and consuming enough energy could prove challenging. Enter peanut butter and mayonnaise on white bread. The combination became a staple in Southern households in the United States and, in some regions, it was as ubiquitous as peanut butter and jelly. For the next 30 years or so, the PB&M was a favorite in many American kitchens, perhaps because adding mayonnaise to the era’s rustic, coarse nut butter may have been key for spreadability. Newspapers from the 1940s in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Troy, New York, both advised adding mayonnaise to “moisten” or “thin” peanut butter before adding bacon or shredded American cheese. In the 1960s, Hellman’s Mayonnaise debuted an advertisement suggesting fun ways to spice up the basic peanut butter & mayo sandwich. To make a “Double Crunch,” one simply added bacon and pickles. A “Funny Face” called for raisins and carrots (and some degree of artistic capability). The “Apple Fandango” featured sliced apples and marmalade, while the “Crazy Combo”—you’ve been warned—included salami, sliced eggs, and onions. Today, a seemingly limitless array of sandwich ingredients are affordable, but peanut butter and mayonnaise remain a beloved combination among the many Americans who grew up eating them. It also continues to maintain standing as one of the cheapest, highest-calorie pairings out there (one tablespoon of either condiment contains about 100 calories). But while famished people struggling through the Great Depression replenished themselves with the dense snack, for 21st-century Americans, the combo of the two, gooey spreads is more likely to inspire a midday nap. www.atlasobscura.com/foods/peanut-butter-mayonnaise-sandwich 📸 @bobbo605 @babybunnysmommy @robfairclough_official 🍞🥜🥚🍞 #peanutbutterandmayo #pbandm #mayonnaise #hellmanns #greatdepression #americana #foodhistory #peanutbutterandmayonnaise #sandwichoftheday #atlasobscura #americafuckyeah #gastroobscura

A post shared by R. Rummel (@rr_obscura) on

To his credit he offered to let me have a bite (I refused), but considering just how many people swear by this sandwich online. I think I might have to take him up on it next time he brings it in.

Have you ever had a peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich?

I've been writing for Shared for 6 years. Along with my cat Lydia, I search for interesting things to share with you! You can reach me at Tristan@shared.com.