(ATLAS OBSCURA) – During the Great Depression, people valued high-calorie combinations of protein and fat. Meat and dairy were costly, and consuming enough energy could prove challenging. Enter peanut butter and mayonnaise on white bread. The combination became a staple in Southern households in the United States and, in some regions, it was as ubiquitous as peanut butter and jelly.
For the next 30 years or so, the PB&M was a favorite in many American kitchens, perhaps because adding mayonnaise to the era’s rustic, coarse-nut butter may have been key for spreadability. According to Garden & Gun, newspapers from the 1940s in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Troy, New York, both advised adding mayonnaise to “moisten” or “thin” peanut butter before adding bacon or shredded American cheese.
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In the 1960s, Hellman’s Mayonnaise debuted an advertisement suggesting fun ways to spice up the basic peanut butter & mayo sandwich. To make a “Double Crunch,” one simply added bacon and pickles. A “Funny Face” called for raisins and carrots (and some degree of artistic capability). The “Apple Fandango” featured sliced apples and marmalade, while the “Crazy Combo” – you’ve been warned – included salami, sliced eggs, and onions.