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The Definitive Guide to Making a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

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Preface

“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
Dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom.
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.
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