By: Jared Scharf  | 

A Defense for Tradition: Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Methodology

In his controversial article “Peanut-Butter-and-Jelly Sandwich Making Methodology,” Doniel Weinreich (YC ‘20) proposes a new method for making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, one which deviates from the modus operandi.  

I found the article problematic for numerous reasons. Although the article was published well over a year ago, I felt that a response was necessary, especially since there have been no prior responses to such a contentious piece.  

Before examining the fundamental issues of the article, there are a few smaller, but no less significant, issues to address: 

One issue is the lack of sensitivity expressed towards those who are gluten-free, have a peanut allergy or any other type of dietary differences. Additionally, aside from the excessive gobbledygook evident throughout the paper, one cannot help but notice the unnecessarily grotesque and strange language, as can be seen, inter alia, with the word “leakage” and the term “finger fellating.” 

This, however, is nowhere near the issue of the author’s sexist tone in writing that the old method of peanut butter and jelly “would never suffice for a grown man’s luncheon,” a comment engendering gender inequality and endorsing a male hierarchy.  

Notwithstanding all of the issues listed above, I was most appalled by the thesis of the article. The author begins by boldly claiming he has invented a newfound method, termed “the alternative method,” to making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. However, the author, in fact, did not discover this method, as I found it online here, here, and here, among many, many other sites.

Weinreich first describes what he deems “the more conventional and traditional method,” in which peanut butter is applied to one slice of bread, jelly is applied to the other and the two are then put together. He then presents “his” method of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in which peanut butter is applied to both slices of bread, and jelly is subsequently applied to just one side on top of the peanut butter.    

The author states three reasons why he believes the “alternative method” to be better. The first reason is that “in the event of the sandwich’s delayed consumption, the bread will remain pristine, whereas the conventional method would result in the jelly rendering its slice of bread soggy.” This claim is simply unfounded. Perhaps the soggy bread Weinreich encounters when using the traditional method could be a result of his own subpar bread or incorrect definition of sogginess. Additionally, toasted bread would not become soggy, and using cold jelly (a.k.a. jelly) would prevent the bread from becoming soggy. Thus the claim that the conventional method yields soggy bread is ill-founded and controvertible. 

The second reason Weinreich states in support of the alternative method is that it “results in a more optimal peanut butter to jelly ratio.” The author does mention, though, that it is “possible to achieve the goldilocks ratio using the conventional method; however, it would require careful calibration and vigilance.” This claim is rather dubious, as the newfound method is by no means easier to navigate the ratio than the conventional method. Both methods require concentration and shrewdness to create a proper or perfect ratio. 

Weinreich goes as far as to assert that “from both a culinary and nutritional perspective, one would want more peanut butter than jelly.”  This is untrue, and opens the question of how the author defines “optimal ratio,” and if that definition is misconstrued or improperly defined. I believe an equal amount of peanut butter and jelly to be ideal. Some want more jelly than peanut butter, and some want no jelly at all. There exist no statistics to support the assertion that “one would want more peanut butter than jelly,” and the proposition is therefore unsubstantiated and irrelevant.  

The author then conceitedly offers a new step in the method, suggesting “to leave the very edge bare when spreading the jelly” in order to prevent what he claims would, with the traditional method, “result in jelly pouring out the sides.” He goes on to say that with the conventional method, “the only move that can be made in attempt to prevent this persistent predicament is to use less jelly,” which is utterly unfounded.  Another method could be to place peanut butter on one of the sandwiches and jelly only in the middle of the other; this will even be helpful for the ratio. Or one could carefully spread the jelly on the sandwich through the standard method, while being cautious of not overflowing the edges. 

The main issue with the article is Weinreich’s claim of the method being less messy.  However, with the new method, putting jelly on top of peanut butter will result in peanut butter getting on the spoon which will subsequently be inserted back into the jelly jar. This could be dangerous for one allergic to peanut butter trying to access the jelly and in general will be much messier, as this ineffective prevention will lead to a disgusting contamination within the jar of jelly. Additionally, when cutting the bread, the same messiness of peanut butter and jelly occurs; the new method the author proposes does not sufficiently address the issues the author raises. 

Another issue with the method is that the jelly does not stick well on top of the peanut butter, adding to the issue of messiness. “It kind of slides off the peanut butter, which is very emotionally unsettling to me,” commented Elisheva Kohn (SCW ‘21), a victim of Weinreich’s detrimental article.   

The author’s claim that with the conventional method “there is no reasonable solution for the sticky-mess-averse who don’t want to risk dripping jelly” is simply not true and misleading, as it discounts every single method he is unaware of. This is a bold statement and would require the author to presume he has thought of every possible solution and none have worked, a quite self-reliant and arrogant conjecture. 

In review, there is no proof of this method resulting in less “leakage,” as well as no assurance of the newfound method yielding a more optimal ratio. Many great people before us had no trouble making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and the author would have one believe that this has been a universal problem. 

When one tries to introduce new practices or modes of conduct, it is important to realize human limitations and accept that not all forms of innovation are progressive, and not all progressions are warranted. Change is not always necessary, and sometimes “alternative methods” can be harmful, deviating from the standard de rigueur and confusing the masses; this is especially true when one haughtily believes that his or her opinion should be regarded as better than the experts. Gastronomical experts deal with these predicaments, should there be any, and one should not make bold conjectures based on his or her own empirical experiences, as Doniel Weinreich has demonstrated. 

Making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a trivial task and should not be treated otherwise. The author tries to intellectualize the process, and in the process, leaves room for confusion and error.

Photo Caption: Making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a trivial task and should not be treated otherwise. 
Photo Credit: Pixabay