The Food of Our Ancestors: a Peanut Butter & Mayonnaise Sandwich

Peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches were common not so long ago: during the Great Depression (1929 to roughly 1939). In fact, once Americans had acquired a taste for these high-calorie but cheap sandwiches, I suspect many households continued to serve such sandwiches to family members for many years after the end of the Great Depression. I wouldn’t be surprised if peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches are still being served today in many kitchens.

Note: Peanut butter and mayonnaise served on white bread contain roughly 400 calories, depending upon the brands of the peanut butter, mayonnaise, and bread involved. That isn’t excessive when you consider that the average woman needs to eat about 2000 calories per day and an average man needs 2500 calories to maintain their present weight. However, the exact recommendation varies, depending upon age, height, current weight, activity levels, metabolic health, and several other factors.

Newspapers in the 1930s suggested adding mayonnaise to “moisten” or “thin” peanut butter before adding bacon or shredded American cheese.

You can read more in the Gastro Obscura web site at https://www.atlasobscura.com/foods/peanut-butter-mayonnaise-sandwich as well as in an article by Chelsea Ritscheli in the Independent at https://ind.pn/2CRvfJl.

I think I will skip the sandwich, thank you.

23 Comments

I grew up in the 50’s and my lunch was often a peanut butter and mayo sandwich. I LOVE them and still have them today. If you have not tried one, do it, they are great!

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My father, born 1929, often talked of lard on a piece of white homemade bread or bread soaked in milk with some sugar. Twelve kids and two parents in their family.

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    My east European grandmother’s family ate a lot of these. She called it soup. Not my thing, but only because of cultural changes that consider soup like that *not*.

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My mother used to serve a salad of lettuce with sliced banana dressed with a mixture of peanut butter and mayonnaise!

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    My aunt used to cover bananas with mayo and roll them in crushed nuts and serve them on picnics. Haven’t heard that in years.

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It took a lot of persuading, but I found out that peanut butter, mayo and a healthy layer of lettuce is really good! To each his own.

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Add some sliced banana to the peanut butter and mayo! That is really good. Down here in Alabama, we ate that as kids growing up. My brother also added a slice of cheese and some grape jelly!

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That would have been a special treat for my mother and her siblings. My grandmother was left with 4 kids to raise by herself. Wasn’t money for peanut butter. According to an Aunt, they lived on pancakes. As an adult, she could not stand the sight of them and never ate them again after she was married. My mother didn’t cook pancakes either.

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Peanut butter and mayonnaise is a new one to me. We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

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We – in the 1950s – certainly ate peanut butter and mayonnaise as an alternative to the ordinary peanut butter and jelly.
But peanut butter and apple butter is the best.

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    My favorite, this time of the year, is peanut butter and pumpkin butter, open face, on toast. I had forgotten about peanut butter and mayo until reading this newsletter, but now I do recall enjoying that combo as a teenager, late ‘50s. These days, I still enjoy sliced banana with a side of peanut butter as a midday snack. (Hold the mayo!)

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Ah Yes Peanut Butter, Cheese (Velveta) and Mayo sandwiches, my favorite. Back in the 50’s when the government supplied Surplus food to the schools, peanut butter, cheese and Mayo sandwiches could be purchased in our school cafeterias. The variety of food we could choose from were outstanding. Fresh fruit, real potatoes, chicken, vegetables, jello, macaroni and cheese etc. Must not forget the Spam…still one of my favorites.

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The neighbor kids introduced me to this one back in the fifties. They put lettuce on it. There was a sweet, tangy, and moist crunch. Didn’t taste as bad as it sounds.

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Mom worked in the onion fields in the 30’s. I still love a peanut butter and sliced onion sandwich.

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Grew up in the 80s, and peanut butter, mayo, & Lebanon bologna sandwiches were in heavy rotation in my house. I always liked them and still bust one out from time to time.

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My mom liked fried bologna sandwich with peanut butter on one side of the bologna and mustard on the other side.

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The picture sure looks like a peanut butter and fluffernutter (marshmallow) sandwich. It is much too white to be mayo and note how the white stuff holds its shape. The viscosity of the two are different.

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    It’s definitely marshmallow fluff in the picture. I totally forgot about that stuff until I saw this picture and now I’m thinking I might go out and buy some. I don’t think I’ve had it in at least 20 or more years.

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peanut butter,tomatoe,mayo on rye bread gourmet meal with potato chips and coke or pepsi

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David Paul Davenport October 19, 2018 at 1:11 pm

I’m quite certain that these contain no calories, just like the ice cream I often have.

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AH, Peanut Butter and Mayo sandwiches and, the months we were rich, a smashed banana on it as well. For dinner, warmed Milk on toast, sometimes even with butter and sugar or honey ! Saturday nights were fried Spam sandwiches, with Mayo. My childhood memories are no longer just memories – now that I’m old and on S/S, I eat that way again !!! And I still love them just as much !!

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Oh my! I have been eating these sandwiches a couple times a week for about 60 years, but with lettuce added. I learned about these in 1959 from a guy named Stetson Gifford. We called the sandwich a “Stetson Gifford Special.”

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