The rise of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich and its potential decline illustrate major themes in recent U.S. history. The growing popularity of the PB&J in the twentieth century reflected changing family structures and child-rearing practices as well as the evolution of food production and consumption. From the 1950s to the 1990s, the PB&J symbolized how much parents (particularly mothers) cared about their children. However, health concerns eventually tarnished the sandwich's iconic image. This article argues that the PB&J became an iconic dish by bridging social divisions based on age, gender, and income levels in the United States.

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