I think I’m having an apostrophe, as Mr. Smee would say. I would like to respectfully suggest that “American as apple pie” is not quite accurate. When you think about it, as much as we like our apple pie (preferably with crumble topping!), we don’t eat it every day, just for holidays and some potlucks. I have finally realized that if you’re looking for something so ubiquitous to the American way of life that we don’t even recognize it as such, then you’re looking for peanut butter.
With no pun intended (I hate puns), I would like to suggest that Americans are peanut butter NUTS. This can refer to either being crazy about it or being aficionados of it, or both. Don’t believe me? Move to Australia for a while, and then reconsider.
Could you say something is “Australian as Vegemite”? Aussie kids grow up eating Vegemite on toast for “brekkie”, and they get Vegemite sandwiches put into their lunches. American kids get peanut butter and jelly (jam, for Aussies) sandwiches. In the U.S., we also eat peanut butter on apple slices, as it’s much tastier than eating it on celery. Some even consider it gourmet to put raisins in the peanut butter, after it’s on the slice.
Still not convinced? I’ve discovered that most Australian schools don’t allow peanut butter or nuts of any kind, as there seems to be a large number of people with peanut allergies. Either that, or they’re being overprotective. I haven’t looked up any numbers, I can’t tell you which is true. In the U.S., there are only a few schools that have the “no nuts of any kind” rule, as that allergy is relatively rare. Some schools probably go “anti-nut” if they have a student who’s allergic, and then when they’ve graduated, go back to allowing the PB&J’s on the grounds.
And there’s still the debate over, if you don’t feed your kids peanut butter because you’re afraid of them having an allergy, will they be allergic because they were born that way, or because they weren’t exposed to it when they were young?
My “apostrophe” continues… Australia doesn’t have Moose Tracks ice cream. Tragedy, my friends say. And the Aussies say, “What?”. Don’t misunderstand, there are plenty of great flavors of ice cream over here, I will survive. But then I try to explain what they’re missing, and why Moose Tracks is so wonderful. But then the realization hits. How do you explain this, when they don’t know what a peanut butter cup is?
Well, in fact, the moose is not really an animal that is recognized Down Under, either. Consider, Americans think of Australia, and we immediately think of kangaroos. Australians think of America and they think of… I have no idea. Do we have any interesting animals? The moose is definitely a North American animal, but they don’t even live all over the U.S., as they prefer the northern climes. Many Americans have never even seen a real moose. But weren’t we all raised on Rocky & Bullwinkle, that wonderfully silly cartoon show, about Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Bullwinkle the Moose? And for adults, if you’ve ever seen Brian Regan’s “Stupid in School” (or “Spelling Bee”), we know all about the “flock of moosen”.
So, the well-named Moose Tracks, it’s name isn’t even recognized. You know why it’s called that, right? Does anybody else remember Rabbit Tracks ice cream? It isn’t made anymore, but it had malted milk balls in it. You figure it out. : )
Anyway, in the process of realizing that my Aussie friends don’t know what a peanut butter cup is, it finally occurred to me that Australian chocolate candy (lollies, sweets, etc.) doesn’t ever have peanut butter in it. Caramel, nougat, honey bits, and (once in a blue moon) peanuts, but no peanut butter. Since I like to look at the candy aisle and try out new things, this surprised me, because such a thing hadn’t even registered before. What kind of place is this, with no peanut butter M&Ms or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?
The United States, then, is home to most of the world’s candy made with peanut butter and chocolate. According to Wikipedia, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is the U.S.’s favorite “candy bar”. Don’t ask me why it’s considered a candy bar, but then, what category would you put it in? But it makes sense that Reese’s is the favorite, for all peanut butter cups were NOT created equal. Ever tried a store brand one? Yeah, I know. And how do you describe it to someone who’s never seen one?
Peanut butter cups are shaped like tiny pies, I suppose, with crinkles in the side. Chocolate with peanut butter in the middle, but it’s not an overly sweet peanut butter, like in peanut butter M&Ms. And I’m not dissing the M&Ms, you know. My parents always put those in my stocking. And when I found the Reese’s in the video rental store, tonight, I also found those M&Ms and the new coconut ones. I love those both, but I didn’t get them. This whole discussion isn’t about cravings or the need to eat the peanut butter cups. I brought home quite a few of them, and froze them, not even eating one myself. So there.
So, are the Americans convinced? We love our peanut butter, and we never even knew it. Moose Tracks wouldn’t be Moose Tracks without the mini peanut butter cups, along with the vanilla ice cream and veins of rich chocolate fudge. The United States is also home to peanut butter fudge and peanut butter ice cream, though those can be a little too much of a good thing. And you can’t forget Reese’s Pieces and Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. Like Cadbury Creme Eggs (which are still only an Easter thing), the Peanut Butter Eggs used to be only an Easter thing. But now you can get your fix at Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas, in the form of hearts, pumpkins, and trees. Or you just stock up on them at one holiday, and eat them frozen, like my brothers do. I like ’em thawed out, but either’ll work.
And now, with no wrong way to eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, I have a bunch of them in our freezer, just waiting to introduce them to my Aussie friends… and see how (and if) they like to eat them. : )