Peanut butter, the sweet, tasty delicacy has been a part of the daily staple in Western countries for a long time. Its popularity is huge, such that a National Peanut Butter Day is observed in the United States on January 24. Even though it cemented its presence in the world in late 19th century, peanut butter is actually older than we think.
The peanuts have been cultivated for almost ten thousand years. It is believed to have its origin in Latin America. And, the history of peanut butter can be traced all way back to the time of Aztecs and Incas, around 1000 BC, who used to ground roasted peanuts into a paste. Since then there have been many people who invented their own versions of peanut butter with different processes.
The first known patent for peanut butter was acquired by a Canadian chemist named Marcellus Gilmore Edson from Montreal in 1884. His product was obtained from milling roasted peanuts until it reached a fluid form. In 1890, an anonymous doctor from St. Louis developed peanut butter. He sold his product in packages to people with chewing problems, with the aid of businessman George Bayle. The peanut butter was priced 6 cents per pound.
Then the American doctor John Harvey Kellogg was issued a patent for the process of making peanut butter in 1895. Kellogg’s process included boiling the peanuts rather than roasting them, rendering it less tasty. He used to serve it to the patients of his sanitarium, Western Health Reform Institute.
The person to popularize the use of peanut butter in the modern world was none other than George Washington Carver, the American agricultural chemist who is famous for his numerous inventions. He discovered three hundred uses for peanuts in the beginning of 20th century and is considered to be the father of peanut industry, and often termed as the inventor of peanut butter. In 1904, peanut butter was first introduced at the St. Louis World’s Fair by C.H. Sumner, grabbing the world attention.
In 1908, Krema Products Company from Ohio started the sale of peanut butter. It is the oldest peanut butter company still in operation. In 1922, Joseph L. Rosenfield from California developed smoother peanut butter, made with a churning process. His product was adopted by Swift & Company in 1928, which later sold the product under the brand Peter Pan. In 1932, Rosenfield founded the Skippy brand, which sold crunchy peanut butter. Later Procter & Gamble also entered the arena, with their brand Jif. They own the largest peanut butter plant in the world. Peter Pan, Skippy and Jif remain the big three of the peanut butter business today.
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