The Last Sandwich

One time one of my friends was planning to leave the country for a couple of years, so he threw a party and called it “The Last Party.” The rest of us tweaked him about it a lot, talking about how there would be no more parties after this party and as soon as he left the country all partying would cease.

Point is, I’ll eat many more sandwiches in the future and probably write about a bunch of them here. But this is the last sandwich of Sandwich Week, so I figured it needed a heavy headline like that.

The sandwich: Peanut butter and jelly, from the analog TedQuarters kitchen.

The construction: Pepperidge Farm whole grain bread with Skippy Creamy peanut butter on both sides and Smuckers raspberry preserves.

After construction, the sandwich is cut diagonally, which is very, very important. Really can’t stress that enough. I don’t even know why it makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches exponentially better to cut them diagonally, but it definitely does. I think it has something to do with the angles. A diagonal cut gives you a nice corner to bite into to start the sandwich.

Important background information: Sandwich Week took me around the world, via sandwich. I ate sandwiches inspired by Asian, European, Caribbean, South American and Middle Eastern cuisine, plus some plain old-fashioned New York deli sandwiches. They say this nation is a melting pot, a broth stewed from the contributions of myriad cultures. But I say soup is lame, and we live in a giant, sliced-open hero roll just waiting to be layered with the meats of a thousand nations.

I finished Sandwich Week with a peanut butter and jelly I made at home, an intentionally symbolic choice. I will likely often make meals of PB&J’s in the coming weeks as I work to cut the weight I gained during Sandwich Week. Plus, though I realize it’s probably not what the Fourth Earl of Sandwich enjoyed on that fateful day, I feel like peanut butter and jelly is almost the O.G. sandwich. For a variety of reasons, a fitting finale to a wonderful week.

What it looks like:

How it tastes: It’s peanut butter and jelly, dammit. It’s delicious.

Whole wheat bread is not my favorite, I’ll be honest, but it’s a concession I make to health. I ate a lot of fried food last week, fellas, and I can use a little fiber in the diet. If I were making my ideal peanut butter and jelly, I’d probably use potato bread. Soft, delicious potato bread, oddly yellow even though potatoes aren’t.

Skippy peanut butter is clearly the way to go. I know it’s not the healthiest of peanut butters or the most gourmet. But I’ve had the fancy peanut butters where the oil separates on top and all that nonsense and they’re just not my thing. So inconvenient. You want me to stir my peanut butter before I spread it on my bread (and then lick the knife)? That’s a whole extra step. I’m a busy man.

It’s Skippy, baby. That’s the good stuff. I’m cool with creamy or crunchy or honey-roasted or whatever, I’m just loyal to the brand.

As for the jelly, the Smuckers Red Raspberry Preserves is where it’s at. I’ve never been entirely clear on what distinguishes jam from jelly and jelly from preserves, but I know what I like, and this is it. I think jelly tends to have big lumps of goo in there, and that’s not what I want. I want something I can spread evenly over the peanut butter on the bread to create sandwich uniformity. If there are big blobs of grape jelly in there — delicious though they may be — I’m going to inevitably get some bites that are mostly jelly, and I don’t want that.

Also, it’s of the utmost important that peanut butter be spread on both sides of the bread. If you’re reading this blog I kind of assume you’re smart enough to know that. A) Bread doesn’t get soggy with jelly B) More peanut butter.

What it’s worth: Way more than what it costs, which is so, so little. A jar of peanut butter costs what, like $5, tops? And you get like 20 sandwiches out of that. And the preserves are like $4, and once you buy them you pretty much have that jar until you move. It’s like magic, unless you make jam bars or something. So a peanut butter and jelly sandwich costs like a dollar maybe. And the 30 seconds it takes to make it. That’s amazing. It’s hard to find a better ratio of cost:flavor.

The rating: 80 out of 100. Peanut butter and jelly isn’t going to win any awards, and it’s certainly never going to be adequately appreciated. But it just keeps doing its thing, year and year out, performing at a very high level despite a limited set of tools. Maybe some day peanut butter and jelly will have its day in the sun, where it comes into vogue and everyone realizes how cool peanut butter and jelly is, but until then it will just remain a quasi-novelty act among sandwiches: simple, straightforward, heroic. Adam Dunn?

13 thoughts on “The Last Sandwich

  1. From your description, I’d give this one a 95, at least! I love Skippy too although Jiff’s not bad either. Very much enjoyed “sandwich week.” Thanks!

  2. Great way to end sandwich week. PB&J will never go out of style. I still eat it at the very least once a week for lunch or dinner. I agree with the potato bread as the bread of choice as well, but I have to say a warm PB&J on plain old white toast is a very very close second. I’m not really particular about my jelly or jam, as long as its red or purple, its fine. And I’ve never eaten anything other than the name brand peanut butters from the grocery store.

  3. Is there something about PB&J that makes it vital to cut the sandwich diagonally, which is not a factor in other sandwiches? (I mean, by your logic, which I think is sound, shouldn’t I cut my turkey sandwich diagonally too?)

    • Out of curiosity, have you ever told anyone you’re allergic to peanuts to spare yourself the effort of discussing that you don’t like peanut butter and why? I ask because I have a friend who claims he’s allergic to all seafood and I’ve sometimes wondered whether he just doesn’t like it and says he’s allergic so nobody will try to convince him to try it.

      • I’ve totally done that. It’s just way easier than arguing about how something is gross. But then sometimes you’ll run into someone who has all sorts of information about that allergy or they’ll catch you eating something with some nominal amount of that thing in it. That’s why now I often say, “it upsets my stomach” or something like that, since it’s vague and sometimes true.

      • Probably wouldn’t have flown if I’d tried that when I was a kid. “Sorry Mom, I can’t eat my peas, they… uh… upset my stomach. Can I have an extra piece of chicken instead?”

  4. Why is it that the Internet now has so much discussion about peanut butter, especially SKIPPY? In view of that company’s shady history, is it because Unilever is paying bloggers to promote its SKIPPY brand?

    Are you aware of the new Federal Trade Commission rules requiring bloggers to state that they are paid or otherwise rewarded to promote a certain brand? There are fines for those who abuse the rule.

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