The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich : History and Invention of a Classic

Classic and Delicious Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich.

The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich – a lunchtime superstar!

An Illustrated History of the Famous Lunch and Snack Classic, The All-American Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Just about everyone in the USA has grown up eating a yummy Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich for snacks and lunches – mine used to come homemade, wrapped up in wax paper. Curious and wondering how this simple sandwich came to be, I decided to begin a little investigation of my own via searching around in archives of vintage newspaper stories, articles and advertisements. Here’s what I came up with so far:


  1. In the later years of the Nineteenth Century, the 1890’s – the Peanut Sandwich is quite popular. So is the Jelly Sandwich (sometimes called a “bread and jam sandwich” or simply “jam sandwich”).
  2. Here is a recipe idea seen in a vintage newspaper circa December 30th, 1894 – Peanut Sandwiches made from a homemade Peanut Paste and spread on diamonds of thin bread. Obviously, an early version of a Peanut Butter Sandwich.

    Early recipe idea for Peanut Paste Sandwich, circa December 30th, 1894.

    19th century idea for a Peanut Paste Sandwich, an early taste of the Peanut Butter and Jelly “sammie” classic that is to come. Cut into diamonds!

  3. Peanut Butter is introduced as a popular new product in the 1890’s and becomes rather a health fad.

    Peanut Butter, the latest fad of the year 1898. Nineteenth century food inventions.

    Peanut Sandwiches made from Peanut Butter – The latest fad and a novelty to give your friends. This from a newspaper ad from the year 1898 (small jar of Peanut Butter for 15 cents!)

  4. So when does Peanut Butter actually merge with Jelly into one totally awesome sandwich? Well, it seems to be pretty widely stated that the first claim to the idea of combining the flavors of peanut butter with jelly on a single sandwich was by Julia Davis Chandler in the The Boston Cooking School Magazine, November 1901, where she recommends making a sandwich with layers of bread, peanut paste, and currant or crab-apple jelly. She tells us the combination is delicious and, as far as she knows, original. Well, sounds like a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich to me! Here’s a snippet of her magazine article:

    Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich idea, from The Boston Cooking School Magazine circa 1901.

    An idea is born – three layers of bread, two fillings and you have the makings for a new delicious sandwich! From The Boston Cooking-School Magazine, year 1901.

  5. By the teens era, 1910’s, the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich appears to be a standard type of sandwich, especially prevalent as something for mom’s to put in their children’s lunch pails.

    The Child's School Lunch, article from vintage 1916 newspaper.

    The Child’s School Lunch – article from vintage newspaper, circa 1916, suggesting sandwiches including peanut butter and jelly.

  6. By the 1920’s, it’s pretty clear by the advertisements and menus as seen in vintage newspapers from the day, the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich has  now become standard lunchtime and picnic fare for the masses.
    Picnic Menus from the year 1927 including menu featuring Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches.

    Here is a picnic menu from an old newspaper clipping dated August 25th, 1927. The menu features Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches on Graham Bread and other yummies (Deviled Eggs and Butterscotch Dreams – count me in!).

    A simple solution to the school lunch problem, Merita Bread vintage advertisement circa September 1926.

    Here is a vintage newspaper advertisement for Merita Bread from September 1926. With kids heading off to school, a simple solution to the “school lunch problem” is preparing a couple of sandwiches (one made with peanut butter and jelly), an apple or orange – and mom’s job is done!

  7. Sometimes it’s even called “Peanut Butter and Jam”!

Hungry yet?



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