Wait, you mixed what with what? And you seriously expect me to eat it?

Today is another edition of Reader Requests. In the past couple of weeks, I've had people suggest two different topics, both involving peanut butter. So, I decided to do a little research, and the results kind of surprised me. But not a lot. It takes a lot to really surprises me. This was actually less of a surprise, and more like, one of those things that makes you go 'Hmmm'.

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Let's start with the common denominator. (it's 5th grade math, people. Maybe 4th. When do they teach fractions?)

Anyway, the common denominator is peanut butter. Most people believe that peanut butter was invented by George Washington Carver. And, as usual, most people are wrong.

Officially, peanut butter was invented in either 1894 by George Bayle, or in 1895 by John Harvey Kellogg. You'll notice I prefaced that sentence with 'officially'. That's because people have been mushing up peanuts into a paste for a long time.

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Peanuts were cultivated in the Bolivian Andes, and there is records of the Incas grinding them into a paste. (I should note the distinction between peanut paste and peanut butter is hazy. While paste is generally chunkier and thicker, that's because butter uses oils to improve spreadability. The only difference between peanut paste and chunky peanut butter is the addition of oil to the butter to make it easier to spread.)

By 1896, the magazine 'Good Housekeeping' provided instructions for using the kitchen meat grinder to grind your own peanuts.

There you have the basic history of peanut butter.

The suggestions I received involve the combination of peanut butter with 1) chocolate, and 2) jelly.

There was some curiosity as to when the combinations were first tried. So, I researched, and here is the best I can come up with. We'll start with the older of the two combinations.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate. In the 1920's, Milton Hershey had a successful chocolate company in Hershey Pennsylvania. (It's still there, and well worth the trip to visit.) One of his employees, a shipping manager who also supplied Hershey with milk from his dairy farm, had an idea for a new type of candy.

The year was 1928, and the man was H.B. Reese. Reese came up with the idea of coating a paper cup with chocolate, filling it with peanut butter and then covering it with more chocolate. Hershey thought it was a good idea, but found the thought of mass producing them a little daunting.

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So, Reese left his job, with Hersheys blessing, and started manufacturing his peanut butter cups in his house. He came up with a method for mass producing them, and they soon became a popular candy. Reese did make other candies, but found the peanut butter cups sold better than anything else, so he dropped the others and focused on his Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.

But wait....there's more. Remember how I wrote that the Incas used to grind peanuts into paste? Well, as it turns out, they used to grind it with cocoa. So, 3,000 years ago, the people of Meso-America were enjoying the peanut butter and chocolate combination that modern day humans love so much.

Peanut Butter and Jelly. If you ask people what came first, peanut butter and jelly, or peanut butter and chocolate, most would say pb&j. But, no. As we just saw, peanut butter and chocolate is at least 3,000 years old. Peanut butter and jelly is just over 100.

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In the June 1896 issue of the gourmet magazine 'Table Talk', they included a 'Peanut Butter Sandwich Recipe'. This was a tip from a housewife who had read about how to grind her own peanuts into a paste in an earlier Good Housekeeping magazine.

The idea of needing a recipe for a peanut butter sandwich seems odd to us now, but back when it was first introduced, peanut butter was expensive, and therefore, a delicacy. It was served in all the ritzy, high class New York tearooms. In the beginning, it was paired with such items as watercress, pimentos and cheese.

As technology advanced, the cost of production came down, and as a result, peanut butter became cheaper. Soon, people could buy peanut butter in a store that was creamier than what they could make at home. It was just a matter of time before someone stumbled on the combination of peanut butter and jelly.

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That person appears to have been Julia Davis Chandler in 1901. She published the first known recipe in the 'Boston Cooking-School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics'.

I'd be willing to bet she heard about it from someone else, but hers is the earliest instance I could find. But, it is possible that the combination could have been first tried hundreds of years ago. Providing they had ground peanut paste, preserved fruit spread and bread. And that combination was probably not in a lot of peoples pantries.

So, there you have it. I used my best Google-Fu and other, secret, research tools, and discovered the answers to the pressing questions you had.

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While researching this post, I did find something disgusting I feel obligated to share. So, here's your bonus disgusting tidbit.

Black Bean Cheese. Re-read that. Now, read it again. Can you tell me what's missing from that title? Give up? It's the word 'and'.

That's right. It's not 'black beans and cheese'. No, it's just black bean cheese.

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Cheese is made from curds. Do you know what else is made from curds? That's right Skippy, it's Tofu.

If you use black beans to make your tofu, the curds you get are black bean curds. If you then ferment these curds, you end up with bean curd cheese.

It's actually a popular substitute for dairy cheese. Well, regular been curd cheese is, at least.

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Black bean cheese is usually dried and made into a powder. This powder is used in cooking, and sometimes made into a tea. (WTF? Cheese tea?)

Anyway, I found the thought of black bean cheese revolting. Maybe you think it's good, but I'd be willing to bet it's not. Unless.......maybe if you spread it on a Fried Bread Popsicle, it might be good.

But, what do I know.