I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich almost every morning of my school years, packing it up with a squat blue juice box of Hawaiian Punch and the little bundle of carrot sticks my mom would cut for me, rolled into a wax paper bundle with ends twisted. Now I make sandwiches for my kids, never much thinking about my technique until my friend Brooke visited from Colorado, chatting with my daughter and I as I made a PBJ for her lunch.
“I don’t think everyone does it that way,” she said.
“No?” I said, surprised. “How do you do it?”
“Peanut butter on one side. Jelly on the other.”
I looked down at my two slices of bread, both spread with peanut butter. “But then you get soggy bread from the jelly. You need peanut butter on both sides to keep the jelly from soaking into the bread.”
I must have figured this out in grade school, after one too many jam-soaked sandwiches. My dad, an electrical engineer, had a method at home for everything from dishwasher loading to water conservation to trash recycling/reduction. Optimization gave him a sense of order and satisfaction. I got that from him.
You don’t need PBJ system if you’re going to eat your sandwich right away. But if you’re going to pack it up, haul it to school in a jiggly backpack and eat four hours later, you’ll be glad to have a sandwich that doesn’t get soggier with time.
Funny that I spent my childhood thinking about PBJ methodology. But even then I would have seen jam-soaked sandwiches as a problem worth fixing.
Peanut butter on both sides of the bread will keep the bread nice and dry. Make thinner layers if you don’t like your PBJ too peanut buttery.
Nobody says peanut-butter-and-jam, but I think jam is in fact the more popular filling. Jelly is pretty runny.
Did you know that grape jam and grape jelly are two different things? Jam has fruit pulp. Jelly is just made from juice.
My husband grew up on grape. For me it was always strawberry.
Don’t skimp on the jam. Remember it has to stand up to double peanut butter.
If you are (or have) a crust-hater, there’s less waste if you cut the sandwich on the diagonals. That way you can eat down to the edge without nibbling into corners and getting peanut butter and jelly on your face from the flapping crusts.
See? You can eat this hours later, and the bread will still be dry.
Soggy PBJ is bad. But gooey is great.