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.
PB&J: The Rise and Fall of an Iconic American Dish
Steve Estesteaches history at Sonoma State University. His most recent book is Charleston in Black and White (2015). He is currently writing a cultural history of the PB&J sandwich and also conducting an oral history project on surfing in the American South. Estes lives in San Francisco.
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Steve Estes; PB&J: The Rise and Fall of an Iconic American Dish. Gastronomica 1 May 2017; 17 (2): 5–15. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2017.17.2.5
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