Being a proud bachelor/poor/awesome, I have logged many hundreds of hours making and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Not many other cheap foods can consistently deliver the way a solid PBJ can. They've evolved about as much as sharks or AC/DC and are just as much a piece of the very fabric of American life. Thus, I would like to share what I have learned so that you may enjoy your sandwiches as much as I do.
Now I could rattle off brand names of specific breads and where you can purchase a certain kind of jelly, and we could argue smooth versus crunchy peanut butter until I punch you in the chest because you say crunchy. Crunchy peanut butter is gross. I win.
But the three ingredients of an enjoyable PBJ all adhere to three guidelines:
First, ingredients to make PBJs for a week should not cost any more than $10. Making an expensive PBJ is like putting peanuts in peanut butter. WHY DO IT. Second, they should be easy to utilize. Now this is where I half break one of my own rules. Obviously jelly in a squeezable container was an international revelation and should have its own commemorative day complete with parades and awkward family gatherings. But peanut butter needs to come in an old-fashioned screw-top jar, and I'll tell you why. Did you ever wake up one picturesque winter morning to a fresh snow so completely brand new and untouched by anything that you had to suit up and get out in it to be the first to upset the pristine white surface with your giddy, excited-for-Christmas-presents energy? Yeah me neither. But that's pretty much what the first stab into a new peanut butter jar is like for me. Perfectly flat smooth brown surface BUTTER KNIFE DESTROY!! It's an important piece of your formative childhood memories that I get to live whenever I feel like it. By stabbing something.
INAPPROPRIATE PARAGRAPH BREAK
And then third and finally, ingredients should be plentiful and easy to find. Half the appeal of the PBJ is that headaches are allergic to it. Nothing about it says "I'm stressful" or "give up." You should never have to drive to a second store to round up ingredients. If you do, you might as well go ahead and buy yourself a turkey to cook in the oven for seven hours or whatever.
A CAUTIONARY TALE
You may make it to the end of a loaf of bread and find that you're left with an odd number of slices. You may be tempted to employ the well-worn sandwich adage "bigger is better" and attempt a double-decker PBJ, peanut butter on one side, jelly on the other side. I'm here to tell you the result will leave you angry, confused, and likely to throw your sandwich off your sixth-floor balcony. The bread buffer between your PB and your J violates the most important PBJ rule: the peanut butter and the jelly MUST be touching. The bond between the two is half science, half magic, and all amazing. Don't disrespect it.
Recently, I've been flirting with the idea of adding another ingredient into the mix. But every time I go to make myself a sandwich, I can't seem to muster up the enthusiasm to desecrate something so holy. And now I'm sad because I'm afraid I've offended mayonnaise by calling it a desecration. But I think the mark of an advanced civilization is that sometimes it's not already extremely hungry when it prepares its food, so it might get adventurous and tamper with the sanctity of jelly and bread and peanut butter. I, however, am not an advanced civilization and I am starving. I think I'd better go make myself a turkey club and apologize to mayo.