As a peanut butter addict, there is nothing I love more than a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When I was younger, I ate so many of these bad boys that I couldn’t eat PB&J for years. But eventually, I came running back to this brown-bag classic, and its been true love ever since.

PB&J is the perfect college student food. All you need is a loaf of your favorite bread, a jar of jam or jelly, and of course, some peanut butter. It’s cheap and easy: no stove, microwave, oven, or hot water required. The ingredients are all fairly non-perishable, and those of us who had PB&J supplies on hand during Snowpocalypse 2011 were livin’ the dream. It’s also relatively healthy and filling enough to make a meal.

22

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of Bon Appetit’s triple decker PB&J (Too much bread! Not enough PB!). The exception to the rule: this one made on raisin bread, found in Pi. So delicious!

 

Lets just talk about the taste for a second. It’s the combination of sweet and salty that makes it great, with the nutty peanut butter balancing the sweetness of the jelly. It tastes like childhood and recess, like long summer-vacation days and beach picnics. There is no denying it’s best when cut into triangles and served with a side of greasy potato chips. PB&J is one of those classic American foods that is so much a part of our lives that it’s difficult to separate its sentimentality from its tasty qualities.

But, we’ve all had a bad peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

You know what I’m talking about. Maybe the bread-to-filling ratio is way off, leaving you with a very dry mouthful. Maybe it’s made with tasteless all-natural peanut butter on wheat bread filled with crunchy seeds. Or, the worst offender: a sandwich whose jelly has been sitting long enough to soak through the bread, leaving you with an extremely soggy lunch.

There is nothing I hate more than biting into my PB&J, expecting a mouthful of pure happiness, and getting one of these duds. So I asked around. What makes a PB&J great? Here’s what I found out:

  • When it comes to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the kid in all of us wins every time. Given the choice, you guys want classic Jif or Skippy peanut butter and the whitest bread you can find. Healthier options like all-natural PB and wheat bread just don’t taste like the sandwich we remember from preschool.
  • Most people are pretty ambivalent about crunchy or creamy PB, with the exception of several strong proponents for crunchy. However, in the battle between jelly and jam, jam’s real fruity flavor edges out the fake, gelatinous competition.
  • Ratio is crucial. There has to be at least as much peanut butter as jelly, if not more. And the more actual PB&J you’ve got on your sandwich, the tastier it is.
  • Try toasting just one side of the bread, the side you slather peanut butter onto.
  • Bananas and sliced strawberries both make great additions to the traditional sandwich.
  • If you’re making your lunch to go, put peanut butter on both pieces of bread and jelly in between. This will prevent the dreaded jelly-soaked bread.

What makes YOUR perfect PB&J? Let me know in the comments below!

-Sarah Koppelkam ‘15