Hard to imagine life without peanut butter. What would little kids eat? How could moms convince their kids to eat raw celery? What could replace PB&J picnic or lunch sandwiches? Have you ever wondered who have us this unique gift?
Peanut butter has been invented and reinvented many times throughout history. In its simplest form, it’s a little more than roasted peanuts crushed to make a paste, but who recognized the possibilites? Peanuts date back as early as 950 B.C., and first took root in South America. The ancient Incas were perhaps the first to make it into a paste. The first commercial peanut crop was gwon in North Carolina about 1818, having been brought to our shores by Spaniards who traded it to our colonies. Dr. Ambrose Straub of St. Louis patented the first peanut-butter making machine in 1903, after an unknown doctor invented his idea of peanut butter in 1890.
The late 1890’s saw lots of interest in peanut butter, its benefits, and how to process it quickly and easily. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg was granted one of the first patents for preparing nut meal using peanuts in 1895. He realized the nutritional value of peanuts, and peanut butter was more easily eaten and digested by patients at his Battle Creek Sanitarium.
Working with Dr. Kellogg was Joseph Lambert, who invented and sold his hand-operated peanut butter grinder beginning in 1896. Almeeta lambert, his wife, got in on the act, producing the first nut cookbook titled “The Complete Guide to Nut Cookery” in 1899. It answered the question, “What to do with this new-found peanut butter?”
By the year 1914, several companies were in the peanut butter business. Joseph L. Rosenfield invented a churning process that put the “smooth” in peanut butter. He sold his invention to the folks who made Peter Pan Peanut Butter in 1928, but his love of peanut butter continued when he began to make his own brand of peanut butter, Skippy, which made not only smooth peanut butter, but the crunchy style favorite of so many of us.