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Creamy and Crunchy: An Informal History of Peanut Butter, the All-American Food (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History) [Kindle Edition]

Jon Krampner
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

More than Mom’s apple pie, peanut butter is the all-American food. With its rich, roasted-peanut aroma and flavor; caramel hue; and gooey, consoling texture, peanut butter is an enduring favorite, found in the pantries of at least 75 percent of American kitchens. Americans eat more than a billion pounds a year. According to the Southern Peanut Growers, a trade group, that’s enough to coat the floor of the Grand Canyon (although the association doesn’t say to what height). Americans spoon it out of the jar, eat it in sandwiches by itself or with its bread-fellow jelly, and devour it with foods ranging from celery and raisins (“ants on a log”) to a grilled sandwich with bacon and bananas (the classic “Elvis”). Peanut butter is used to flavor candy, ice cream, cookies, cereal, and other foods. It is a deeply ingrained staple of American childhood. Along with cheeseburgers, fried chicken, chocolate chip cookies (and apple pie), peanut butter is a consummate comfort food. In Creamy and Crunchy are the stories of Jif, Skippy, Peter Pan; the plight of black peanut farmers; the resurgence of natural or old-fashioned peanut butter; the reasons why Americans like peanut butter better than (almost) anyone else; the five ways that today’s product is different from the original; the role of peanut butter in fighting Third World hunger; and the Salmonella outbreaks of 2007 and 2009, which threatened peanut butter’s sacred place in the American cupboard. To a surprising extent, the story of peanut butter is the story of twentieth-century America, and Jon Krampner writes its first popular history, rich with anecdotes and facts culled from interviews, research, travels in the peanut-growing regions of the South, personal stories, and recipes.

Product Description

Review

Jon Krampner's Creamy and Crunchy is a delightful book about America's most popular nut butter and sandwich spread. It is action-packed, peopled with medical professionals and corporate giants, captains of industry and hard-hitting advertisers, vegetarians and health-food advocates, and farmers and peanut-butter lovers. It is a well-written, fast-paced, surprising tale about the delicious food we thought we knew. One nibble, and you can't stop reading! -- Andrew F. Smith, editor in chief, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America As a peanut-butter aficionado, I found this an excellent, convincing book written in a casual, journalistic, almost folksy style that cleverly disguises the real research done for it. -- No l Riley Fitch, author of Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child Creamy and Crunchy is a witty, encyclopedic history of one of America's most iconic processed foods. It is chock-full of fun facts and surprising insights into the way we eat today. -- Aaron Bobrow-Strain, author of White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf Enjoyable and informative. -- Jon Michaud New Yorker well written and at times very witty... -- Justin Peters Washington Monthly A great book has been born. Yum.fi A comprehensive and entertaining account of peanut butter and how this popular food assumed its place in American food culture... This informal, folksy discussion will likely appeal to curious consumers and those interested in the history of food. Library Journal Jon Krampner is a wonderful guide to the many paradoxes of this all-American food... -- Bee Wilson Times Literary Supplement A lively and entertaining book. -- Rob Hardy The Columbus Dispatch Creamy and Crunchy is the definitive history of this scrumptious staple, an entertaining and informative read. The Past in Review ...an enjoyable, interesting overview of an important part of American culture...highly recomended. Choice charming and entertaining -- Tim Sullivan Harvard Business Review

About the Author

Jon Krampner is the author of The Man in the Shadows: Fred Coe and the Golden Age of Television and Female Brando: The Legend of Kim Stanley. He received an A.B. in English literature from Occidental College and an M.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He lives in Los Angeles. Web site: www.creamyandcrunchy.comE-mail: pbj@creamyandcrunchy.comTwitter: @pbj06

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 24977 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; Reprint edition (20 Nov. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A0WE90K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,326,986 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book has been born 3 Dec. 2012
By I. Darren TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Peanut Butter is one of those foods that many non-Americans just can't understand the point of, yet in America it is a very popular foodstuff that is said to be consumed by over 75% of the population! This book is a detailed look at the passion and pleasure for this sticky delight.

First, let the book explain an interesting conundrum: Despite their name, peanuts aren't nuts. They're legumes, more closely related botanically to peas, beans, clover and alfalfa than to walnuts and almonds, which have hard shells and grow on trees. "Peanuts are not nuts," an article in Consumer Bulletin once noted, "and peanut butter is not butter."

Information just comes pumping out of this book like a wayward fire hose. Perhaps too much information but fortunately the writing style is such that you don't notice you are receiving an intensive lecture. The ardent researcher is also able to utilise the book's academic leanings for even further reading and research should it be so desired.

A history of the peanut and its versatility starts this book off and nothing is left to chance. There are a lot of interesting facts about peanuts that you might not have thought about which pop out without warning that can provoke much thought in the process. The social rise of the peanut is the next logical chapter and the information still keeps flowing. The reader can learn that the state of Georgia is responsible for nearly half of the entire U.S. peanut production and yet the U.S. uses peanuts differently from most othercountries. About half the crop is turned into peanut butter, a quarter is used to make snacks and the rest are used for candies - a stark contrast to other peanut-growing countries such as China and India where the crops are used primarily for peanut oil. Expanding waistlines?
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Actually quite an interesting book! Learned a lot 20 Feb. 2013
By Guest Hollow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Every once and awhile I like to break up my fiction reading habit with something like this. Creamy & Crunchy turned out to be not just informative but really enjoyable! I'm not sure why this book originally appealed to me, other than the fact that I grew up eating peanut butter and even as an adult it continues to be a comfort food I indulge in from time to time. I'm glad I took the time to indulge in this book. You'll be too, if you want to know just about everything there is to know about the trivia and history behind this iconic cupboard staple. Just make sure you have a jar of your favorite peanut butter on hand. It's too tempting not to go and get a spoonful after reading a few chapters! ;-)

There is a wide variety of topics included in Creamy & Crunchy - from the peanut's humble beginning as a low class food (it was fed to the pigs after all!) to its rise as the main ingredient in our nation's beloved peanut butter. There were lots of fun stories and facts discussed like the rise (and fall) of several peanut butter brands, the health benefits of peanuts (did you know they rival apples, carrots, strawberries and more in their antioxidant content, contain resveratrol an anti-aging component and are associated with reduced heart disease and reduce cancer risk?) as well as plenty of history, trivia and interesting tidbits that kept me reading (and learning) to the end. One of the surprising things I learned: the George Washington Carver I had been taught about in elementary school is mostly a myth, at least when it comes to peanuts. What a way to burst my 4th grade "peanut day" bubble.

Even though Jon Krampner covered a lot of different topics, he had a great narrative flow to the whole thing so it didn't feel like a lot of disjointed facts. And yet, each chapter can easily stand on its own. There are lots of interesting recipes scattered throughout in side-bars, including one that Elvis used to love: a peanut butter banana sandwich fried in bacon grease. Yeah, ok, that sounds pretty extreme, but there are plenty of healthy and even ethnic recipes to try out instead.

This is more than a book about peanuts and peanut butter. It's also a historical walk through American culture, advertising, and tastes. Jon really did his research and it shines.

I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this book as much as I did, but Creamy & Crunchy was a fun, informative and historical read. I know I'll never look at another jar of peanut butter the same! If you like history mixed with trivia and plenty of personal/old-fashioned American stories, Creamy & Crunchy might just hit the spot for you as it did for me.

*I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review - and no, I don't always give out good ones, LOL...I always write up my opinion good or bad! :-)*
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tasty treat 21 Dec. 2012
By Richard M. Mahler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Like millions of Baby Boomers, I grew up on peanut butter. How many hundreds of Skippy (extra chunk style) peanut butter sandwiches did my mom send to school with me? I dunno, but such sandwiches still spell c-o-m-f-o-r-t to me 50 years later, although I've switched to Trader Joe's organic crunchy in the interim. Jon Krampner tells, with engaging good humor and impressively researched detail, the fascinating story of this truly all-American foodstuff. Who knew, for example, why mainstream PB became so sweet and smooth? Or how Skippy fell from its pedestal as the top seller? Or the complicated processes involved in growing, harvesting, and roasting those humble peanuts? I loved this book and didn't want it to end. Like a perfectly executed PBJ, Krampner's offering is by turns reassuring, nourishing, and delicious.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read It in a Jiffy 29 Nov. 2013
By Jeffrey Swystun - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Mark Kurlansky seemingly created a new history sub-genre with his work on Salt and Cod. Now comes Peanut Butter and that seems like a good idea for a book given 75% Americans consume it. The book is a fun romp through almost every possible angle: diet and nutrition, allergies, advertising, cultural impact, recipes and peanut butter etiquette. Readers just have to get past the fact that despite their name, peanuts aren’t nuts…they’re legumes.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting 18 Feb. 2013
By G. C. Covington III - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is very informative, but is probably a little long. It is full of more information than I ever wanted to know about the history and development of Peanut Butter
5.0 out of 5 stars Facets of a Fun Food 7 Feb. 2013
By R. Hardy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I bet you have a jar of peanut butter in your pantry. I do; and if I need a quick and easy meal, peanut butter on crackers and a glass of milk is not only quick and easy, it is scrumptious. I don't know that like average Americans I eat six pounds of peanut butter a year, but Americans do like their peanut butter; people in Europe and Africa tend not to like the taste and texture. Those are some of the many things I learned in _Creamy & Crunchy: An Informal History of Peanut Butter, the All-American Food_ (Columbia University Press) by Jon Krampner, who "lives in Los Angeles and has a slight preference for crunchy." There has, Krampner says, been no volume about peanut butter like the ones we have had recently on candy, bananas, salt, or cod, and so this is a welcome description of peanut butter in all its facets: history, botany, economics, chemistry, and more. There are forty pages of footnotes, but this is a lively and entertaining book for anyone who wants to know more about a favorite food.

Peanuts were first domesticated in South America more than 3,000 years ago. They came to America with shipments of slaves. It took them a while to lose the taint of slavery or of being a food for poor people. This was not true of peanut butter itself; it began as a treat for the upper classes. The fad for health sanitariums at the beginning of the twentieth century included peanut butter in salads, sandwiches, and soups. There was a vendor selling peanut butter at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, the first time many Americans got to try it. Beech-Nut and Heinz introduced it nationally, and the country was hooked. National distribution could only happen with hydrogenation which was introduced in the 1920s. Hydrogenation keeps the peanut oil from separating from the peanut solids; it produces a uniform, creamy texture. Krampner gives a business history of each of the main brands: Peter Pan (1928), Skippy (1932), and Jif (1958). Jif had fewer peanuts, more oil, and extra sugar and molasses. Jif's competitors copied the formula, and this caused a long peanut butter battle between the manufacturers and the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA wanted the rule that a product had to have 95% peanuts to be a peanut butter, and the manufacturers wanted the easier 87%. After over a decade of wrangling, in 1971, the compromise was set at 90%. Jif has been the most popular brand in America for three decades, but Jif's success did not come just from what is in the jar. It had a brilliant advertising campaign starting in 1966, when it preyed on the dutifulness of the mothers doing the shopping: "Choosy mothers choose Jif." The campaign was so good, it has continued, although with trepidation Proctor and Gamble modernized "mothers" to "moms" in 1988. Peanut butter didn't only sweep the country, it might save the world. "Ready-to-use Therapeutic Foods" (RUTF) can cure starvation. There is a brand called Plumpy'Nut that comes in a three ounce packet of paste; it is peanut butter to which is added milk powder, sugar, vegetable oils, vitamins, and minerals. It has played a role in emergencies in sub-Saharan Africa, Niger, and in Haiti after the earthquake.

The reason peanut butter can be used to fight starvation is that it is a very foody food. There have been fears about aflatoxin and salmonella, not to mention peanut allergies, but peanut butter is packed with protein. The oils in it are mostly the "good" ones, too, and there is no cholesterol. The problem is that the oils have plenty of calories; that's good for starving people, not so good for us others. There was a "peanut butter diet" based on its supposed ability to satisfy your hunger while simultaneously suppressing your appetite (yeah, that sounds like it will work). Peanut butter has lots of roles revealed in this entertaining book, and maybe it just reflects my own way of using it, but it is best enjoyed as a treat now and then. Krampner himself says he has binged on it in the past, but has only eaten it recently for research purposes (how dutiful of him). The research enables him, at the end of the book, to recommend best tasting brands, subdivided by consistency and the particular peanut breed used. He says he is a "peanut butter purist" and refused to award a recommendation to any "Peanut Butter and Jelly Combo." He admits he only tried one, but "how much trouble is it really to open two different jars and spread the contents on a piece of bread?"
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