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The Definitive Guide to Making a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
“I know lots of witches good and bad/But the best witch that I ever had/was a peanut butter sandwich made with jam/yummy, yummy, yummy, yummy, yum– Raffi”
Modern society has become increasingly fast-paced and competitive. In our high-tech world of hustling and bustling about, it seems that hardly anybody has the time or inclination to give due appreciation for the finer aspects of life. But pitiful is the man who doggedly follows in the current zeitgeist of tight schedules and ruthless antipathy; Pitiful is the man whose priorities have gone astray- the man who sees a forest without considering the trees; Pitiful is the man who doesn’t give regard for the minutiae of life- the intricacies without which our existence is immaterial.
With your permission I should like to expound briefly upon a theory I have held for some time to the effect that society’s tacit imposition of a Weltanschauung of disregard for the less protuberant aspects of our lives, which is the root cause for the harrowing aforementioned alteration of mankind’s outlook upon the relative significances of the grandiose and the trivial, the exotic and the routine, has led directly to an adverse impact upon the quality of one of the most vital elements of Western Civilization. It is with great regret that I, your humble correspondent, declare that one of the most precious of things which has not escaped the degradation which so frequently occurs to the less prominent features in the modern world is the creation and ingestion of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It is with even greater lugubriousness that I relay the sobering fact that the decrease in quality of this crucial component of our inner being has by and large gone unnoticed by the general populous. What’s more, I am painfully aware of the fact that a growing number of people have consciously and unequivocally expressed their indifference to this exigency. I strongly urge those readers who may find themselves in this position to reconsider their premises of the quintessential nature of our virtues and our existentialities.
For what, metaphysically speaking, is the purpose of our existence if we are but a sum of those components which are to be seen as immaterial? A great man once proclaimed that “The unexamined life is not worth living”. I think it was Aristotle, or Socrates, or one those old bald Greek guys. Or maybe it was my uncle Phil. In any case, the maxim succinctly encapsulates the immediate importance of rectifying the deleterious deterioration of social mores which are a consequences of the unfortunate waning of humanity’s perception of the causality between the superficial preeminence of the whole and the ipso facto pertinence of its individual constituents.
I have, therefore, taken it upon myself to attempt to reverse the polarity of the current misguided trajectory of our sensibilities, or at least to impede upon its resolute drive towards the inevitable destruction of our civility through the pernicious alleyways of ignorance, by bringing this most salient matter to the attention of the people at large with the publication of this work and in doing so hopefully ameliorating the difficulties endured as of late by those unfortunate enough to be in a position wherein the proper methodology of preparing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich are presently either wholly or partially unbeknownst to them.
The structure of this treatise is as follows: The first section shall address the outer portion of the sandwich- namely, the bread. The second section shall concern itself with the peanut butter, an ingredient which is of undebatable importance to one who has undergone the task of preparing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The third section deals almost exclusively with the final ingredient of the sandwich- the jelly.
The sections of this elucubration which follow the primary three do not discuss any additional ingredients, for the simple fact that the discussion of additional ingredients is quite a futile expenditure of ink in this particular case, for it would only be beneficial to focus on additional ingredients where there are additional ingredients available to focus on, which as I am certain most of you aware is simply untrue in the given instance owing to the fact that the only ingredients found in a properly prepared peanut butter and jelly sandwich are bread, peanut butter, and jelly, all of which are dealt with at length in the first three sections of this manuscript. And since the sections which follow the first three sections of this work do not at all concern themselves with any additional ingredients, it logically follows that they talk about something else entirely, for the only conceivable alternative to this would be that these sections do not discuss anything at all, which would of course be preposterous since in that case I would not have added these sections to the treatise in the first place. The fourth section, by far the most difficult, tackles the correct procedure for combining those ingredients addressed ad nauseam in the first three sections to ultimately create a premium quality peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The fifth section delineates the appropriate method of consuming the sandwich, and the sixth and final section of this work is for those various matters of discussion which are of significance to the topic at hand, but which unfortunately cannot be adequately appended to any of the four preceding sections- the “odds and ends”, if you will.
Throughout the rest of this dissertation I shall be referring to the peanut butter and jelly sandwich in several ways, among these “the peanut butter and jelly sandwich”, “the pb&j”, and simply “the sandwich”. I sincerely hope that the reader, in seeing it mentioned simply as “the sandwich”, does not become confused by the fact that a sandwich, without any explicit specification of the type of sandwich, could in theory be any number of sandwiches, including but not limited to a turkey sandwich, a cheese sandwich, a turkey and cheese sandwich, a ham sandwich, a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, a knuckle sandwich, and perhaps the Earl of Sandwich. I do however feel justified that within the confines of this piece of writing I may refer to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich merely by labeling it “the sandwich” because I happen to be in a position to know that I shall make no attempt to speak about any sandwich other than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, for this is a work devoted solely to the preparation of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and not of any other possible sandwich to which the phrase “the sandwich” could conceivably be an antecedent. If the reader would like to learn about the proper method of cooking and eating some other sort of sandwich, such as a turkey sandwich, a cheese sandwich, a turkey and cheese sandwich, and hopefully not the Earl of Sandwich, he or she is advised to reference those works of literature where, unlike in this essay, said matter is discussed at any appropriate length, and which to the best of my knowledge are as of yet unfortunately nonexistent.
Before embarking on this gastronomic journey, I should at this time like briefly to digress slightly in order to bring to the forefront not one but two issues of no lesser relevancy which have reared their ugly heads amongst our esteemed linguists and lexicographers.
The first bone of contention is the question of whether it is permissible to denote the name of the sandwich in writing as a “peanut butter and jelly sandwich”, whether the preferable designation is a “peanut butter & jelly sandwich”, or whether the utilization of the ampersand in the given context is purely a “de gustibus non disputandum est” matter. As can clearly be seen by the title of this essay, I am of the opinion that the former label is the most optimal way of writing the name of the sandwich.
My inclination towards the eschewal of the ampersand is based on several lines of reasoning. First of all, the phrase “peanut butter & jelly sandwich” is aesthetically unappealing owing to the fact that, instead of the homogenous clustering of Latinate vowels and consonants seen in “peanut butter and jelly sandwich” (which, in case anyone is interested, which I highly doubt, has 28 letters- a wonderful number since 28 is one of very few numbers equal to the sum of its proper positive divisors), it contains that bloody ampersand. Now don’t get me wrong; I have nothing at all against the ampersand when used properly (such as in the phrase “pb&j”), but in this case I am quite certain the reader will agree that this unprepossessing insertion of the slightly obscure punctuation mark is as inapposite as ketchup atop scrambled eggs. Furthermore, the ampersand in this particular phrase does not even have the common decency to place itself squarely in the middle- there are eleven letters to its left and thirteen to its right. Thus “peanut butter & jelly sandwich” is a visually askew phraseology, uglified by that misfit “&”.
Additionally, some readers may see the ampersand as a sort of separator between “peanut butter” and “jelly sandwich”, which may lead to obfuscation over whether a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a sandwich containing both peanut butter and jelly or whether it is a sandwich containing only jelly and which is perhaps accompanied by a side of peanut butter. [I will assure the reader that a peanut butter and jelly sandwich does indeed contain both peanut butter and jelly; the peanut butter is not served separately. I would hope that the majority of you were already fully aware of this, but if you happen to be one of those to whom the previous sentence came as a shock, I would advise you to reassess whether you have sufficient mental and physiological capacities to attempt the Herculean task of assembling a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.]
The ampersand is, both in my opinion and in actual fact (which are of course synonymous) quite allowable and even preferable in “pb&j”.
[“Pb&j”, by the way, is a well-known and widely used abbreviation for “peanut butter and jelly”, and shall be used as such for the remainder of this composition. My apologies to those who were of the unfounded opinion that “pb&j” stood for the Swedish Indie pop band Peter Bjorn and John, or something of the sort. To reiterate, for the purposes of this piece of writing, “pb&j” will be understood to mean “peanut butter and jelly”.]
The reason why the ampersand is wholly applicable here, as opposed to the above phraseology, is because the only imaginable alternative would have to be “pbandj”, which would of course raise the eyebrows of many a befuddled reader as he or she is found at a total loss over why there is a band inside someone’s PJs. I suppose one could make the argument that perhaps an even more precise wording would be “pb and j”, making using of spacing to avoid any ambiguity regarding the separation of the letters a and b as well as d and j, but I have no doubt in my mind that such a butchery of our beautiful language is as unsightly as a blobfish and is something up with which I shall not put.
The second linguistic dispute regards the growing number of people who consider it discriminatory to the jelly that peanut butter should come first in the nomenclature of a “peanut butter and jelly sandwich”, maintaining that the term is an antiquarian sexism reflecting the superiority of the masculine roots of peanut butter, (which came of course mostly from the peanuts grown in United States farms and plantations) and the relatively more feminine nature of the history of the procurement and societal esteem for jelly. These contrarians hold that it is only fitting the sandwich be immediately rechristened the “jelly and peanut butter sandwich” since, as any semi-literate half-wit will tell you, jelly does indeed unarguably precede peanut butter alphabetically. (I speak of course exclusively about the graphemes of the Latin alphabet used for written purposes to represent words of the English language, for that is the language in which I am currently writing and for the sake of simplicity shall remain writing in. Matters may considerably differ in other languages and in pictographic, ideographic, or analytic transitional scripts, but frankly, my dear reader, I don’t give a damn.)
Let me state forthrightly that I by no means hold peanut butter to any higher standard than jelly. Nor do I hold jelly to a higher standard than peanut butter. As it so happens, I hold the two ingredients to be both of equal merit when it comes to their involvement in the manufacture of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They are like two sides of a coin- inseparable yet distinct- and must be in perfect balance and harmony in order the pb&j not to taste too heavily of one ingredient at the expense of the other. (For more on the right proportion of peanut butter to jelly, see section 4). Therefore, since the two must be of equal stature, peanut butter has just as much of a right to come before jelly as jelly does to come before peanut butter. The argument that “jelly and peanut butter sandwich” is the more desirable for alphabetic reasons is simply outrageously and egregiously illogical.
Why? Because this contention is predicated upon the false assumption that those things which come first alphabetically are of somehow greater salience than those which follow it. But there are a plethora of contradictions to this principle. Good is better than evil. Two heads are better than one. And is anything better than cheese in a can? I think not.
And since “peanut butter and jelly sandwich” has been the commonly accepted term for the sandwich containing both peanut butter and jelly, there is no reason why we should go to the trouble of changing it. To do so would require untold millions of dollars in the amendment of advertisements, menus, labels, and the like to invert the name of the sandwich, and would also bring about inevitable confusion amidst the hoi polloi regarding the switch. Consider, for example:
Mother: “What do you want me to make you for lunch, Timmy?”
Timmy: “A jelly and peanut butter sandwich, please.”
Mother: “A what?”
Timmy: “A jelly and peanut butter sandwich.”
Mother: “You mean a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”
Timmy: “No, a jelly and peanut butter sandwich. Mrs. Applebee says that’s the right way to say it.”
Mother: “Did she now? Well, she’s wrong. It’s called a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”
Timmy: “No it isn’t.”
Mother: “Yes it is.”
Timmy: “No it isn’t!”
Mother: “It most certainly is, and I don’t want to hear any more backtalk. You’re grounded for the rest of the day. And you’re getting tuna fish for lunch!
Timmy: “But I hate tuna!”
I think you get the point. Why instigate unnecessary hostilities by changing the name of a sandwich that should bring people together, under a common bond of carbohydrates, not pull them apart. Thus it is in the welfare not only of the individual but of society as a whole that it remain to be known as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
So now, without any further ado, we shall commence our exploration of the individual ingredients found in the sandwich.
“All sorrows are less with bread.”- Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
The bread is the one of three ingredients found in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the other two being peanut butter and jelly.
“Bread”, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary (whose definitions I shall be making use of for all words and terms whose meaning I see a need to elucidate- and whose definitions I unequivocally concur with unless I expressly convey that a given definition has not been procured from the pages of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, in which case I, being a responsible and all-around well-intentioned correspondent would provide to you the source of my definition despite the fact that it is with the utmost positivity that I proclaim nobody cares a whit whence the definition is derived – or unless I expressly convey that I do not at all agree with the definition I provided, which would naturally be ludicrous because in that case I could have saved everyone a lot of trouble simply by omitting the unsuitable definition in the first place), is “ A usually baked and leavened food made of a mixture whose basic constituent is flour or meal”.
Bread is one of the oldest non-natural foods, eaten virtually everywhere in the world. The earliest archaeological evidence of panivorous hominids dating back to around 30,000 years ago. It has become such a staple food in the diet of so many people that it has become a synecdoche for food in general in many languages and dialects. (This usage can be found in English in the phrase “It puts bread on the table”).
One unit of bread which is an applicable portion of the overall sandwich is heretofore referred to as a “slice”. Despite the fact that, technically speaking, any incision made into any type of bread, of any shape, form, color, texture, moisture, and the like, which leads directly to the formation of a discernibly individual globule consisting of this bread, can be termed a “slice”, for our purposes the term “slice of bread” shall indicate an individual entity of bread which meets the following criteria, which are quite necessary for said slices to be a suitable ingredient in a first-rate peanut butter and jelly sandwich:
It consist exclusively of bread, as defined above
It is a form of matter in the solid state, and is not gaseous or liquid.
It is a single, unified substance which is comprised of components of bread which are not by any means separated above a subatomic level by non-bread substances within the spatio-temporal plane. (a slice of bread, it is true, may be cut to form multiple bready substances- and indeed this is quite a common and accepted practice in the art of pb&j making, as will be seen in section 4, but immediately following this disjointing there would remain not one divided slice of bread but rather multiple slices, provided of course that each former segment of the aforementioned slice still meets the requirements that would render it to be a veritable slice of bread.) There is, however, an important exception to this requirement. In some bread, for some god-knows-why reason, non-bread edible entities, almost always seeds of some sort, but occasionally pieces of fruit or some other sacrilegious supplementation, are intentionally imbedded into the bread. (Probably in the crust-see below). If these non-bread edible entities are added to the bread before it was leavened, and are semi-uniform in size, shape, texture, and rigidity, and do not constitute greater than thirty percent (30%) of the total surface area of the portion of bread, then given it meets all the other criteria for a slice of bread enumerated here, it may still be considered a slice.
It is flat, or flat enough that an able-eyed individual beholding the slice at an unobstructed viewpoint and from a distance of, say, five (5) feet away would have at least some difficulty in ascertaining that it is not actually perfectly flat, on not less than two (2) of its sides, these sides necessarily being the sides which have the largest surface area on the slice and which are parallel or sufficiently parallel so as to give a semblance of parallelism to the same previously mentioned able-eyed individual who for reasons I cannot comprehend is still hypothetically staring at this sandwich at an unobstructed viewpoint from a distance of approximately five (5) feet.
The breadth (pun unintended yet fully welcome) of the slice is no more than one sixth (1/6) of its height or its length, whichever is greater.
Neither the length nor width of the slice is less than two (2), or greater than seven (7), linear inches from end to end.
You may be wondering how I arrived at the empirical specifications given in the final four characteristics of a slice of bread. I would, for egotistical satisfaction and in the name of scientific accuracy and assiduousness, very much like to tell you that these stipulations were a consequences of rigorous experimentation, but my insuperable modesty compels me to admit abashedly that they are completely arbitrary figures. I would not blame you, dear reader, if, after having gained my trust upon reading the preliminary pages of the manuscript and having had that trust broken by this display of unprofessional capriciousness, you resolved to stop reading this essay and seek me out to punch me in the face for having forced you to waste your precious time reading twelve pages worth of nonsense. I’ll even facilitate your intentions- my name is Keith David Miller, ¬teacher of A.P. Language and Composition at Cold Spring Harbor High School.
The surface of a slice of bread, excluding the two flat, parallel surfaces, is more often than not encompassed in a crust- or to use the participial form, crusted. A crust is the hard, outer portion or surface area of bread. It is also perceptibly darker in color than the non-crusted portion of the bread. The crust forms on many types of bread because of a chemical reaction which takes place during the baking process due to the disparity in temperature between the outside and inside of the dough known as a Maillard reaction, in which the synthesis of carbohydrates and amino acids leads to the formation of 6-Acetyl-2,3,4,5-tetrahydropyridine. But I digress.
Is the perfect pb&j made with crusted or non-crusted bread? This polarizing question has aroused a firestorm of debate from culinary enthusiasts across the globe, and has instigated such hostilities between the two factions- procrusters and anticrusters- that it has been linked to several cases of assault, armed robbery, and homicide.
Procrusters hold that the crust is essential because it gives the bread a distinct outline, securing the integrity of the sandwich and separating it from the outer, non-sandwich world. The crust, they say, is the embodiment of assuredness and confidence- the conquering of the evils of ambiguity and equivocality.
Anticrusters disagree, claiming that too rigid a partition of any two entities, virtues, or ideals is unrealistic in our multifaceted world. We do not live in black and white, they say, but in a rainbow of infinite shade and hues of subtle distinctions. The line between yin and yang is not straight- rather, it follows the delicate ebbs and flows of our ephemeral surroundings. This is the philosophy reflected in their antipathy of crust. ¬
I am a proud procruster, but my motives are much more tangible than those homiletic ¬¬espousals by the more prominent members of the procrusterist party. I believe that bread in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches ought to be endowed with an external crust is because bread crust, according to a study published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agriculture has many health benefits. The crust is not only rich in dietary fiber, but also contains power cancer-combatting antioxidants like pronyl-lysine. Furthermore, if you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the crust intact, and find that its intended recipient is a vehement anticruster, it is reasonably simple to remove the crust to suit his, her, or its needs. However, to recreate or reconnect a detached crust to tailor to virtuous procrusters such as myself will most assuredly present considerable difficulty. It is thus the only rational course of action to assemble a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the crust intact, unless it is known in advance that the person who will be eating this sandwich is an anticruster.
There are no more and no less than two (2) slices of bread in every individual sandwich- one on the top of both the peanut butter and the jelly, and one directly underneath them. If these slices are correctly placed, they should serve effectively to maintain the cohesiveness of the sandwich. (More on this in section 4).
“What’s type of bread should I use to make this culinary masterpiece?” I hear you cry. The bread’s primary function is to maintain the stability of the amalgamation of its internal ingredients. As is well known, sandwiches were invented by the fourth Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu, because it allowed him to play cribbage while eating without using a fork or getting his cards greasy. (Okay, they were actually invented much earlier than that, but that is of no importance.) The idea is that sandwiches should be able to be handled with only one hand (and, of course, the mouth and various components of the digestive system.), and it is therefore of the utmost importance that there is as little risk as possible of the ingredients within the sandwich prematurely falling off, or, god forbid, the sandwich itself crumbling to smithereens. Therefore, it is highly recommended that the slices used for making the sandwich are of a type which is sturdy and strong, including but not limited to rye, pumpernickel, white, and sourdough.
(As will be the case with the next two sections, I refuse to recommend any particular brands of products, as I believe that doing so would be a breach of my objectivity and may create a rupture in the trust between me and my loyal readers. For how are they to know that I am not a stockholder in the companies that sell these products and that my endorsements are driven by nothing other than personal greed? No, this is a definitive work, and therefore supersedes the dominion of any particular company, incorporation, or other financially motivated institution, and it would be entirely inappropriate and inexcusable for me to recommend, for example, Pepperidge Farm Rye and Pumpernickel Swirl, or Jif Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter, or Welch’s Grape Jelly for the best possible pb&j).
I should mention here and now, for the sole express purpose of protecting myself from potential lawsuit, and of course in the name of altruistic beneficence to humanity, that if you plan on eating the sandwich and happen to be allergic, or happen to be in a position to know that the individual or individuals, whether human or otherwise, for whom the sandwich will be or perhaps already has been (if you’ve been reading ahead) created is allergic to wheat or gluten, or for that matter any component of the slices of bread which are being used to manufacture your peanut butter and jelly sandwich, including perhaps any seeds, pieces of fruit, or other sacrilegious supplementations to the bread, you are advised not- I repeat, not- to allow the individual with this allergy to consume, partially or entirely, this sandwich. If the sandwich is eaten by the aforementioned individual or individuals, against the cautioning herewith expressed, the liability for any pain, suffering, or otherwise unwanted consequences caused directly or indirectly by this blatant disregard falls squarely upon your shoulders. I am not, in any matter whatsoever, to be held responsible for any such incidents. But if you do wish to try your hand in suing me, please remember that my real name is Keith David Miller, teacher of A.P. Language and Composition at Cold Spring Harbor High School.
(In fact, I think I should add that the above caveat applies not only for the bread but also for all other ingredients found within the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, including and in this case limited to peanut butter and jelly.)
“Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter.” – James A. Garfield
Another ingredient which the reader may be astonished to learn is essential to the formation of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is peanut butter. Peanut butter, according to Wikipedia, which of course is always indisputably correct, is “a food paste made primarily [90% or greater, under United States law- your humble and pansophistical correspondent] from ground dry roasted peanut, actually a legume and not a nut”. Peanut butter is without exception very sticky, to the delight of youngsters and the dismay of arachibutyrophobiacs everywhere. Although the Incas did mash peanuts to create a pasty substance that could perhaps be considered by some purists to be peanut butter but for the intents and purposes of this work shall hitherto be deemed merely a loathsome and probably inferior imitation of actual peanut butter despite the fact that it technically does indeed meet the prerequisite conditions given by Wikipedia which all forms of authentic peanut butter must meet, and Wikipedia is always right, (My sincerest of apologies to all Incas who may be offended by any perceived slander on the part of myself to your precious peanut-butter-ish foodstuff. I assure you I meant no offense and am certain that the pseudo-peanut butter substance is delicious, perhaps just as delicious as is genuine peanut butter, but I simply believe that it would not be appropriate to allow for the spread to be a permissible substitute for peanut butter within a pb&j, if only for the fact that in this case the designation of the sandwich would unfortunately have to be corrupted to “Quasi-peanut butter and jelly sandwich” or “non-peanut butter and jelly sandwich” or some other strained nomenclature, which, you understand, can simply not be allowed. No offense is intended. Okay, maybe a little offense, but I mean come on- you guys couldn’t even get the wheel right and you expect me to trust you with my sandwich? And you’re all extinct anyway, so there is really no need to get this worked up.), the more commonly recognizable form of peanut butter has been around extremely briefly when compared to the history of bread. George Washington Carver is most commonly credited with inventing the sticky substance in the early twentieth century. It was just one of hundreds of ingenious uses Carver found for peanuts, including its addition to soap, printer’s ink, relish, and respiratory pharmaceuticals. That man was nuts. (Sorry, legumes.)
As the more worldly readers are no doubt aware, there exist two (2) main types of peanut butter as regards to its consistency. The first is “chunky”, also known as “crunchy” peanut butter, which is non-uniform and heterogeneous due to the disproportion of density found in the spread which comes from the presence of lumps, chunks, or otherwise inconsistent conglomerations of peanut butter. The other type, which is fairly self-explanatory and does not really warrant a special mention since it is probably already known but if not can easily be gleaned by elementary deduction by any semi-competent reader but which I will shortly mention anyways for several reasons, the main one being that I have already begun to tell you and so stopping now would be very awkward and would of course require an explanation as to why I am backtracking, necessitating far more effort than simply telling you the second type of peanut butter- not to mention the possibility of a reader or two who either out of laziness or stupidity, or more likely some combination of the two, are unable to figure it out on their own- is so-called “creamy” peanut butter, which differs from crunchy/chunky peanut butter in that it is much smoother and regular in its consistency, and contains only the most minor and unobtrusive of irregularities.
So which is the more desirable in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? There have been various polls suggesting that Americans as a whole have a slight proclivity towards creamy, (despite the fact that, interestingly enough, people tend to grow fonder of crunchiness as they get older), so if you are creating a pb&j (or multiple pb&js) for an individual or individuals whose preference of consistency is unknown to you, and you are either unable or too disinterested to ascertain this information, then it would be logical to use creamy peanut butter due to the slightly greater probability of said individual being creamily inclined. Naturally, if you do happen to know that the intended devourer of the pb&j you plan on making has a predilection, be it subtle or extreme, for creamy peanut butter over crunchy, then it is advisable to utilize this variety in your sandwich, whereas if the converse is true than crunchy/chunky peanut butter is the way to go.
But to be perfectly honest, it really makes very little, if any, difference which kind of peanut butter is used in your sandwich, as both types are held to an equal standard by experts and authorities of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich and the use of creamy rather than crunchy peanut butter in a given peanut butter and jelly sandwich would therefore make no discernible impact upon the objective quality of the sandwich. So why did I bring the matter up in the first place? Because, as I mentioned in the introduction (which, being a loyal and responsible reader, you most assuredly perused in its entirety) my overall purpose in authoring this treatise is to instill in humankind a greater appreciation for those niceties of life we too readily gloss over and floccinaucinihilipilificate, and one of these niceties happens to be the variant smoothness of different types of peanut butter, and is consequently just as important to your general enlightenment as is the more instructional portions of the work.
There are some from the more liberally inclined camps who claim that it should be admissible to replace the peanut butter with some form of nut butter, such as almond butter, cashew butter, hazelnut butter, macadamia nut butter, pecan butter, pistachio butter, or walnut butter, or even a seed-based spread like pumpkin seed butter, sesame seed butter, soybean butter, and sunflower seed butter. This is correct- but only if you do not have the chutzpah to call the comestible in which this blasphemous inferiority is regrettably encompassed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, for to do so would be akin to putting some cheese in a bottle and calling it “cheese in a can.”
A more sophisticated and controversial question disputed by gastrosophers everywhere is whether one may rightfully use peanut butter infused with non-peanut flavors such as white or dark chocolate, honey, cinnamon raison, or maple syrup. After all, proponents say, they are still technically peanut butter, since peanut butter must, according to Wikipedia, which is invariably correct, be comprised mostly of peanuts, not exclusively. These spreads still qualify.
Classicists, however, emphasize that this would befoul the traditional essence of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It would undermine the foundation of a culinary tradition which has stood the test of time with its harmonious amalgam which can only be vitiated by this raucous display of entrepreneurial meddling which is the epitome of the unescapable path of our great nation toward the precipitous plunge of pathomania.
I tend to sympathize with the latter sentiments. Don’t get me wrong, it is true that these unorthodox spreads are certainly forms of peanut butter, and their substitution for the more standard type of peanut butter would not by any means preclude a sandwich from being a veritable peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I’m sure also that such a sandwich could be just as flavorful as its traditional counterpart. The problem, though, is the proverbial slippery slope. For one day you’re rocking cinnamon raison peanut butter, the next you’re sautéing your sandwich and adding exotic Caribbean spices, and before you know it you’re causing a concatenation of events leading to the apocalyptic engorgement of a gelatin-like bacterium. That being said, despite my qualms, I find myself obliged to condone the use of flavored peanut butters. If you do decide to use these products, though, please exercise extreme caution that their power doesn’t get to your head.
Let us now plunge into a discussion of our third and final ingredient:
Section 3: The Jelly
“The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never jam today” – Lewis Carroll
Jelly is a sweet, clear, semisolid, somewhat elastic spread or preserve made from fruit juice and sugar boiled to a thick consistency, which if placed on a ten-pound scale of ingredients would contain not less than 4.5 pounds of fruit. This is not to be confused with jam, which is a preserve containing both the juice and flesh of a fruit or vegetable, or marmalade, which is a fruit preserve made from the juice and peel of citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, grapefruits, mandarins, sweet oranges, or kumquats. An additional distinction is that jelly, unlike jam or marmalade, is based entirely on fruit juice or other liquids and may not include seeds or pulp. All of these are different from a conserve, which is a preserve containing multiple kinds of fruit and often nuts.
The history of jelly can be traced back to its origins in the Middle East, many centuries ago, on a Thursday. (And who says nothing good ever happens on a Thursday?) After the crusades, jelly was brought back to Europe, and gained popularity particularly in that wonderfully eccentric island of England. The gelatinous substance proved very useful to those cunning Brits for preventing fruit from going bad (hence the term “fruit preserve”).
What phase of matter is jelly? You may think it is a solid because it does not lose its shape when placed in different containers. Or you may think it’s a liquid due to its flexible plasticity. But in actuality, it is what is known by scientists as a hydrophilic colloid- a liquid suspended inside of a solid, containing a network formed by crosslinking polymer chains or by non-linear polymerization and formed though the physical aggregation of these polymer chains that results in regions of local order acting as the network junction points. And if you don’t understand a word of that, it’s okay- neither do I. But if Wikipedia says it, you can bet your bottom dollar it is true. (Whether you win the bet, however, is a different kettle of fish altogether…)
There are many types of fruit and therefore many kinds of jelly. (I shall not even discuss vegetable jellies, like red pepper jelly or cucumber jelly, as any reader who thinks there is even the slightest possibility I would consider for a moment letting any of these disgraceful and distasteful concoctions desecrate the sanctity of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich has without a doubt not an ounce of sanity left and is advised immediately to admit himself into the nearest psychiatric institution for the safety and security of himself and those around him). Fruit-based jellies, which are the only type of jelly permissible to have in any pb&j which aspires to the upper echelons of society, range from the tried and trusted like grape or strawberry to more exotic and obscure like pear, fig, boysenberry, or even cactus (!)
(In case you’re wondering, which you unquestionably aren’t but should be, a boysenberry is a cross between a European raspberry, a blackberry, an American dewberry, and a loganberry. It has a soft, thin skin and a sweet-tart flavor.)
Any of these jellies are allowed on a pb&j. Of course, the allotriophagous chef should be aware that the more eccentric the flavor, the greater the risk that it will be unappealing to the anticipated ingestor of the sandwich, and that it may very well be prudent to use grape or strawberry jelly, the two most popular types, for the more palatably conservative folk to avoid as much as possible any indignation, assault, or disinheritance from someone who is not very fond of dragonfruit or cherimoya jelly. ¬And by the way, if you do decide to make cactus jelly, please remember to remove the spines.
Evolution, in all of its glory, designed us to grow less and less fond of sugar as we age. Little kids prefer intense sweetness in their food, which not only tastes good to them but even serves as a natural analgesic. The older they get, though, the more they lean towards less sugary foods and additives. This is probably because in days of yore, when caloric foods were scarce, the little kids who ate a lot of sugar had enough sustenance to survive. Thus if you are making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for an adolescent, then a sweet jelly is preferable to a more acrid preserve.
There also exist sugar-free jellies, containing artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or sucralose. These jellies have the benefit of being very low in calorie and carbohydrate content. However, since the main preservative in jelly is sugar, sugar-free jellies tend to spoil much faster than ordinary jelly. And since jelly is a “fruit preserve”, and was invented specifically with the intention of prolonging the preservation of fruit, then it follows that these products are a sort of tacit contradiction in terms- a non-preservative preserve. Naturally, you would not want to blemish the perfection of your sandwich with the presence of a product of such inherent irrationality, would you?
Who was the genius who discovered that peanut butter and jelly- two ingredients which are fairly uninteresting and have little if anything to do with one another- combine to form a majestic infusion so heavenly divine that it makes angels weep with joy at the splendor of God’s awe-inspiring creation? It is unfortunately unknown exactly when this deific construction first reached the lips of humankind- and who the Da Vinci was that sculpted this Mona Lisa of sandwiches- but historians concur that our race received this promethean gift some time during World War 2, owing to the fact that bread, peanut butter, and jelly were all on the U.S. military’s ration list. Who says nothing good comes out of war?
“Hey all you people
Hey all you people
Hey all you people
Won't you listen to me,
I just had a sandwich,
No ordinary sandwich,
A sandwich filled with jellyfish jelly,
Hey man you got to try this sandwich,
It's no ordinary sandwich,
It the tastiest sandwich in the sea.
AH De ba da ba doo ba da ba de ba da da. Yeah” – Fred from SpongeBob Squarepants
This is the part we’ve all been waiting for. After being properly acquainted with all our essential ingredients, we shall now delve into the most important part; the part without which this essay would be a completely pointless expenditure of bombast, but with which is a completely legitimate expenditure of bombast. After having endured thus far my soporific alieniloquency, illuminating philosophical rants, and terrible jokes, you have now earned the right to learn the secret techniques of fashioning – gasp! – the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Before beginning to make the sandwich, you must first ensure that you have at your immediate disposal the following:
two (2) slices of bread as defined in section 1, which are sufficiently fresh, edible, and otherwise satisfactory for a pleasurable consumption. It is recommended, however, that you have at hand at least six (6) such slices in case you make any errors. (Making a pb&j is a very complicated procedure, you understand)
A sufficient quantity (which is variable depending on the size of the intended sandwich and other factors) of peanut butter, which is also sufficiently fresh, edible, and otherwise satisfactory for a pleasurable consumption. The peanut butter must adhere to the requirements outlined in section 2. To guarantee that you have ample supply of peanut butter, it is recommended that you procure at least one quarter (1/4) the total volume of a commercially available jar of peanut butter.
A sufficient quantity, which is also variable, of adequately fresh and edible jelly, which obeys the restrictions I have underlined in section 3. A good rule of thumb is, as with the peanut butter, to have at least a quarter (1/4) the total volume of a commercially available jar of jelly at hand.
A solid and flat or nearly flat surface whose area exceeds that of two (2) of your slices of bread. The surface must be unmoving and situated horizontally, in such a way that a slice of bread placed upon it would not, either immediately or in the near future, fall off of it under the influence of gravity.
(This reminds me, by the way, that before commencing the manufacture of your sandwich you must be in a locale wherein both the universal gravitational constant and that which is found in all parts of the Earth excluding those areas in which artificial gravitational conditions are created, such as vacuum chambers,
as well as such factors as atmospheric pressure, temperature, moisture levels, oxygen content, and others which are necessary for the existence of human life are present. The only exception to this stipulation is if the potential sandwich creator is an inhuman being such as a robot, or perhaps an extraterrestrial organism which may be adapted to conditions which the human race would find inhospitable.)
The surface should be located in a place where it would be possible and hopefully comfortable for the culinary artist during the creation of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Furthermore, the quality of the sandwich would be aesthetically enhanced if this surface was a dish, plate, or tableware of some sort, which is kept in place itself by the normal force (that’s normal as in ninety degrees; whether it is customary is entirely optional) of a stronger surface directly underneath. In any case, the surface which will shortly be found directly below one of the slices of bread must be reasonably bereft of harmful microorganisms and hygienically satisfactory so as to have the lowest possible risk of compromising the salubriousness of all involved parties (meaning, of course, the individual who is to eat, either partially or entirely, the sandwich). This surface with hitherto be referred to as the Surface, with a capital S, so as to avoid any semiotic obfuscation regarding whether a forthcoming usage of the word “surface” was intended to denote this surface or the surface of some other entity such as a slice of bread, napkin, or knife.
A knife, preferably one with a dull blade, which serves two purposes: to transport the adhesive spreads onto the bread and to cut the bread.
A napkin, or some such flexible woven material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibres, for use in wiping off residual jelly or peanut butter.
A good attitude
Admittedly, the last item is completely optional. It would not in the least affect the quality of your sandwich if you are in a rotten mood or a state of euphoria. But your contentment is nonetheless recommended. Okay, shall we begin?
First, place one slice of bread horizontally atop the Surface in such a way that one and only one of its two flat, parallel surfaces (the two sides of the slice with the greatest surface area, and which from now on will be referred to as the two indicator surfaces) connects directly with the Surface under the influence of the aforementioned prevailing gravitational forces.
Which of the two possible sides of the slice should be face down? The indicator surfaces on most slices of bread are similar enough that arbitrarily opting for one side over another would not in any significant way affect the value and intrinsic worth of the sandwich. That being said, on occasion you will find that one- or, in extremely rare instances, both- of your slice are completely crusted on one of the two indicator surfaces. (This would be due to that side formerly being on the exterior of the whole loaf of bread from which the slice was obtained.) If this is so, then it is imperative to place the slice such that the crusted indicator surface is the side directly adjacent to the Surface. If this is done correctly, you should notice that after removing any obstacles to the movement of the bread, barring the Surface, the slice remains in an immobile state. (This is of course neglecting the fact that technically it would be moving, with respect to cosmic background radiation, at a speed of approximately 390 kilometers per second , as the Earth itself is wantonly hurling us into the great unknown. All future mentions of speed, mobility, or any other measure of motive activity in this treatise, if there are any at all, which I highly doubt, will be assuming an inertial frame of reference that describes the temporal and spatial dimensions in a homogenous, isotropic, and time-independent manner.)
Just to make sure your slice of bread is situated properly, because it would be most unfortunate if you were to follow the instructions herein to the letter, only to find that your end product is some entity which bears little or no resemblance to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich solely on account of a misinterpretation of this vital first step and as you are already aware I, being an altruistic and munificent individual, would like to prevent this unfavorable hypothetical, please confirm that the one and only one indicator surface which is contiguous to your Surface is one of the two surfaces which meet the regulations delineated in section 1 for indicator surfaces (that is, one of the two sides with the greatest surface area.) This surface will hereafter for obvious reasons be designated the Facedown Indicator Surface.
(I suppose this is an appropriate place to acquaint the reader with the system of nomenclature which I have taken the liberty of devising to facilitate the clarity of conveying an intention of mentioning any given portion of a slice of bread. You are already familiar with the term “indicator surface”, and are aware that an indicator surface which is entirely crusted is known as a “Crusted Indicator surface”. (Remember, that’s surface with a lowercase s. A Surface, with a capital S, is the flat, horizontal, non-sandwich surface to which the pb&j will be attached gravitationally). It will not, then, come as a shock to the reader that an indicator surface which is not crusted shall be called an “Uncrusted Indicator surface.” A slice of bread which has a Crusted Indicator Surface is called an “Asymmetrically Encrusted Slice”, and similarly a slice without one can be called either a “Non-Crusted Indicator Slice” or a “Slice Symmetrically Proportioned in its Deficiency of Internal Crust”, depending on your mood. The crusty border of a slice of bread which does not contain a Crusted Indicator surface is to be known as “The Crusty Perimeter”, whereas this crust-filled boundary in a slice which happens to contain a Crusted indicator surface will, in order to avoid any confusion over whether the Crusted Indicator Surface is included or not, be christened the “Crusted Indicator-Exclusive Bread/Non-Bread Partition of Crustiness.” As is explicitly mentioned in its name, the Crusted Indicator-Exclusive Bread/Non-Bread Partition of Crustiness does not, I repeat not, include the Crusted indicator surface. Finally, if a slice of bread has had its crust removed by an anticruster (or, for that matter, by a procruster or even a non-partisan individual.), then its crustless border will be known as the “Crust-Devoid Indicator-Exclusive Bread/Non-Bread Perimeter”.
I am fairly certain that these terms will not appear again in this work past this page, and I suppose I am in a position to know owing to the fact that I shall be the one writing the rest of the treatise, but I think it is important that my readers memorize this terminology for various reasons. First of all, it adds to the accumulation of the enlightenment of humanity about which I have pontificated extensively in the preface. It would also be quite practical in everyday life to be able to specify various surfaces of a bread slice, to avoid situations like the following:
Waiter: “Would you like toast with your eggs, sir?”
Customer: “Yes, please. One asymmetrically encrusted slice buttered on the non-crusted indicator surface and one slice symmetrically proportioned in its deficiency of internal crust with a crust-devoid indicator-exclusive bread/non bread-perimeter, toasted. And can I have some coffee with that?”
Waiter: “I quit.”
Finally, if this treatise, as is expected, reaches number one on the New York Times Bestseller List, I am seriously considering writing a sequel concerning the proper way to make a grilled cheese sandwich, which would definitely require my readers to have an extensive knowledge of the bready terminologies.
After this is completed, place the jar of jelly on a flat surface which may be but does not necessarily have to be the same Surface (with a capital S, remember) atop which the bread slice is situated. (If for some god knows why reason your jelly is not in a jar at all, but in another type of container, then the next few steps may not apply and you are regrettably on your own as to how you will manage to transport the jelly onto the bread slice. If you find that you cannot do so, then you are advised to procure a jar of jelly from a local - or non-local, I suppose - convenience store, supermarket, delicatessen, or other retailer before continuing.)
Make sure that both of your hands are completely unoccupied by any gripping, clutching, grasping, or otherwise holding any objects. (If you are an individual who lamentably has only one hand, then you could ask someone to assist with this and with forthcoming steps which require multiple prehensile multi-fingered extremities. If, on the other hand , you are some extraterrestrial organism who is blessed with three or more hands, then considering that you only require a minimum of two hands in order to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich you should cut off a non-essential hand and allow some uni-dextered human who wishes to create a pb&j to make use of it temporarily. After all, you should always lend a hand to those in need.
With one hand, grip firmly the outer section of the jar roughly at the midpoint between the bottom of the jar and its lid. Then, using the hand which is not occupied with this task, grasp the lid about its circumference, optimally digging the fingernails of said hand slightly underneath the lid, and while maintaining the pressure exerted by this grip rotate your hand counterclockwise until the lid comes off. (If this is a new, unopened jar which has been vacuum sealed, you should hear (assuming you have ears; I don’t judge.) a “pop” or similar sound indicating that the vacuum seal has been broken. If the jar has been previously opened or was not originally vacuum sealed, then you will most likely not hear any such sound.) Once this is done, it should not be overly difficult to remove the lid of the jar of jelly and place it in some location where it will not impede upon upcoming procedures hereinafter described but will be easy to retrieve at your convenience after your sandwich is created to place back on the jar- unless of course the jar is empty after the sandwich is made and you have no future use for either the jar or its lid, in which case you are well advised to place it in the garbage, or for the more environmentally concerned, the recycling bin- and if you find that for some inexplicable reason you are unable to unfasten the lid you must immediately dial 9-1-1 or your local authorities.
Next, have your knife in hand. Should it be a plastic knife or a metal one? There are arguments for either material. Plastic knives are much safer, since their blades are duller and weaker, than their metallic counterparts. They are also cheaper per unit; a box of six hundred plastic knives costs around $9.00 on average, the same price as a set of four metal spreading knives.
However, proponents of the metal knife also bring forth several compelling arguments.
Unlike their hydrocarbon equivalents, metal knives are non-disposable and can thus be reused indefinitely, which may actually save money in the long run. Plus, they say, metal knives are sturdier and will almost assuredly never fracture, splinter, or otherwise break down during use. But aside from purely fiscal or pragmatic concerns, advocates of metallic cutlery put forward more ideological considerations which, they maintain, are overlooked by our apathetic society. For a knife has long been a symbol of aggression, of enterprise and audacity. It has been used since the dawn of civilization as a display of superiority, as a tool to aid in the dominance of one peoples over another. Thus, the switch from the strong, durable, and sharp metallic blades to weak, short-lived, and dull plastic ones is reflective of our dwindling ambitions and should not be allowed to continue. Having thus presented the arguments for both sides of this salient debate, I shall leave it to the reader to choose his implement of choice after giving the matter very careful consideration.
Hold the knife so that the handle is between the forefinger and thumb of one and only one of your hands, and the side with the blade extends forwards. Then carefully maneuver the knife so as to enter it into the opening of the jar which was uncovered after the removal of its lid. Remain in firm control of the knife, gripping its handle the whole way, as you lower the knife so that it dips vertically into the jelly until each blade is submerged in the gelatinous substance. Then comes the tricky part: you must simultaneously rotate the hand which is gripping the knife approximately ninety degrees counterclockwise while jerking the entire arm upwards in such a fashion as to allow the knife to reemerge from the same aperture in which it was immersed, all while maintaining a firm grip on the knife that keeps the blade sufficiently parallel to the Surface that the jelly does not fall off. It may take a few tries before you get the hang of it.
Once you’ve managed that, you will then translate the knife-holding hand horizontally such that the jelly which is on the knife is directly above the center of the slice of bread that has been waiting ever so patiently on the Surface. Then, you will rotate this hand approximately ninety degrees counterclockwise so that the surface of the knife is not impeding upon gravity’s influence on the jelly’s trajectory. Wait a few seconds. If you are lucky, the vast majority of that globule of recently extracted jelly should fall freely and plop roughly onto the center of the face up surface of that infinitely patient bread slice. Otherwise, you will find that a good amount of the jelly, being a very adhesive substance, will have remained on the knife because the electrostatic interactions between the dipoles of the knife and the jelly is stronger than the gravitational force of the entire Earth . If this if the case, simply give a quick flick of the wrist in the downward direction, and/or wait a few more seconds, and the jelly will disconnect with the knife and go on its merry journey to the center of the bread slice.
Once nearly all of the jelly is off the knife and onto the bread, the next step is to spread the jelly uniformly across the entire surface. Why is this a necessary step? Elementary, my dear reader. It ensures that the gustary perception of the jelly is encountered by the ingestor with every bite. This is extremely important because a peanut butter and jelly sandwich can only be as good as it is regarded by the individual who consumes it, and it is imperative that we prevent with every ounce of our ability the potential for said consumer to bite into the sandwich and find that his particular bite was comprised solely of peanut butter and bread, or even (gasp!) just bread. This would in all likelihood result in his dissatisfaction regarding the unanticipated deficiency of the pleasurable combination of peanut butter, jelly, and bread which he has come to expect from a top notch peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He may become so infuriated by this perfidious spectacle that you may try to torture and kill you on account of your incompetence and deceit. And do you know what? You probably deserve it.
To prevent any gelatinous imbalance, you must press the dull blade of the knife down flat across the globule of jelly in the center of the bread slice until your wrist is just slightly over parallel from the Surface, exerting only a minimal amount of pressure, then move the knife in any permutation of horizontal translations which will disperse the jelly such that each and every point on the jelly-laden surface of the bread slice is topped with approximately the same amount of jelly. There are a nearly infinite number of ways to achieve this, each of which is just as good as any other. If there is not enough jelly to cover the entirety of the upside surface of bread, simply obtain some more using the method outlined above. If, on the other hand, there is an excess of jelly (which for the purposes of this essay shall mean that when the jelly is regularly disseminated each point on the surface of the slice is buried under more than one (1) inch of jelly) it is imperative that you correct the matter by using your knife to pick up some of the surplus jelly and return it to the jar.
After the jelly is evenly dispersed, place the second slice of bread down in a similar manner to that which was used to place down the first, with the exception that in this case you must place the second slice an adequate distance away from the first so that the two slices do not overlap. Your next goal will then be to get the peanut butter to be placed on and dispersed throughout the second bread slice in a manner analogous to the first, with an important exception which I shall be thoughtful enough to particularize for your convenience.
“Just wait one diddly-darn minute!” I hear you cry, “The knife has still got some jelly on it! Don’t we have to rinse it off first, you pompous idiot?”
No, you do not. As you will see shortly, the peanut butter and the jelly will blend together in the immediate future assuming you continue the manufacture of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich and don’t just walk out and leave behind an unfinished sandwich, and so therefore it is really of no consequence whether there is a modicum of jelly residue on the slice laden with peanut butter. It would not, in my opinion, be an appropriate expenditure of our precious time upon this Earth to concern yourself with such trivial matters. Why would anyone want to waste their time doing such stupid things when there are so many more important aspects of our existence to attend to? And who are you calling a pompous idiot? After all the work I have put in for the benefit of you, my loyal readers, I would have expected a little common courtesy. Where was I? Oh, yeah.
Peanut butter is a much pastier sandwich constituent than is jelly. Therefore, it will not be as easy to separate this spread from the knife, and after some experimentation you will undoubtedly discover that the “flick-of-the-wrist” technique is quite ineffective when it comes to peanut butter. Thus it is possible and indeed preferable, after having immersed the knife in the peanut butter and taken it out of the jar which contained said peanut butter, simply immediately and gently to place the knife flat against the slice, omitting the ineffectual wrist flicking approach.
Once both slices are buried under their respective spreads, you will be ready to complete your masterpiece- the final stone on the Arc de Triomphe of epicurean delights. You will have constructed a high-quality peanut butter and jelly sandwich!
To finish it off, simply flip one of the slices (it doesn’t matter which) onto the other so that the outline of the slices are symmetric with respect to the x-axis, oriented such that the peanut butter and the jelly blend together with the harmony of a Beethoven symphony and the beauty of a fez .
Congratulations. You have just made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!
You could, conceivably, wish to end the tiresome process right here and set about eating the sandwich and it would certainly be understandable considering the amount of work you have put in that you are disinclined to take the extra step. Nobody, therefore, will blame you if you decide not to follow the instructions for the next procedure, which are wholly optional and whose purposes are purely aesthetic in nature, and which describe the various ways in which your peanut butter and jelly sandwich may be cut. (By cut, of course, I mean partitioned vertically by the knife. It is not lacerated horizontally by a pair of scissors- that would just be weird.)
The above paragraph, of course, is a total lie. Anyone who has gone to the trouble of preparing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich of such high quality should not let their laziness or their hunger prevent them from giving this endeavor their heart, soul, and sinew. Anyone who believed me and went about eating the pb&j whole is the epitome of the ignoramuses who are destroying the integrity of our nation.
And besides, cutting a sandwich does more than appeal optically to its eventual consumer (and jealous non-consumers). In fact, the main reason why most peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are cut is purely practical: the geometry of a whole sandwich is such that a bite taken from any direction by the average sized mouth of a member of the species homo sapiens sapiens will not be large enough to extend all the way to the opposite end- that is, a bite which begins at a given crust will not completely encompass the crust which is one hundred eighty degrees clockwise (or counterclockwise; the angles are coterminal) from the origin of the mastication, with the flat surface of the slice being the Cartesian plane of reference . Ergo, (That’s such an ugly word; remind me never again to say ergo) an average bite from an uncut pb&j will leave behind a craterous depression which not only is widely considered unprepossessing but also inevitably leads to unenviable squalor and disarray.
There are two universally approved cutting patterns (if that is the term) for sandwiches: rectangles and triangles. I would not be surprised if somebody, somewhere – probably in Canada because Canadians are bizarrely fantastic like that- has devised a new shape in which sandwiches can be cut, such as octagons or ellipses or irregular icosidodecahedrons, but if so the news of this discovery has not been published in any reputable publication, nor has news of it reached me- the self-proclaimed foremost authority on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the universe- in any manner whatsoever.
The rectangular cut is fairly simple: One downward incision along the approximate segment bisector of the two most distant points of one of the slices of bread when view from above, in a direction of the locus of points equidistant to the aforementioned points, which terminates at the bread/non-bread partition which may or may not be crusted, should do the trick.
Triangular cuts are slightly- but only slightly- more difficult. To cut a sandwich triangularly, you must first arbitrarily pick any of the four corners of the crust which surrounds the topmost slice. Then, again assuming this slice to be the Cartesian plane of reference, make a complete, downward incision which ranges horizontally from this corner to the corner directly opposite to it. Easy as pie. (Or should I say sandwiches?)
There seems to be relatively little debate over which of these cuts is better- the scientific community is nearly at a consensus, which as you know is a very rare occurrence, as to the fact that triangular cuts are the more desirable, for several reasons.
First of all, the triangular cut reveals more of the interior of the sandwich than a rectangular cut does. Pro-triangulist architect Kevin Harris pointed out on NPR in 2009 that “by exposing the interior, [the triangularly cut sandwich] engages more of your senses before you take the first bite. Furthermore, Paul Calter, professor of mathematics at Vermont Technical College draws attention to the fact that triangular sandwiches have a substantially greater amount of non-crusted surface area, allowing the consumer to enjoy more unobtrusive bites of deliciousness. Finally, numerologically speaking, three is a much more harmonious and heavenly number. From Platonian philosophy to Christianity to Norse mythology and everything in between, the number three has long been considered to hold special powers. It’s hard to disagree- think of all the glorious things which come in threes: musketeers, stooges, and blind mice, to name just three.
However, there do exist some old cantankerous fogies who are unwavering in their barbaric rectangular practices. Rather than argue and have my mail inundated with death threats , I have decided it is in the best interest of all parties that I simply condone their atavistic praxes. They’ll all die soon anyways.
In conclusion, it is much easier to order out for pizza.