Peanut butter was invented and reinvented
many times during history. Peanuts were known as early as 950 B.C. and
originated in South America. The ancient Incas used peanuts and were known
to have made it into a kind of paste-like substance. As a crop peanuts
emigrated from South America to Africa by early explorers and then traveled by trade into Spain who then traded the product to the American colonies.
The first commercial peanut crop was grown in Virginia in the early to
mid 1840's and in North Carolina beginning around 1818.
According to the Corn Products Company,
Dr. Ambrose Straub of St. Louis patented a peanut butter-making machine
in 1903 and some unknown doctor invented peanut butter in 1890.
John Harvey Kellogg patented a "Process of Preparing Nut Meal"
in 1895 and used peanuts. Kellogg served the patients at his Battle Creek
Sanitarium peanut butter. Joseph Lambert worked for Dr. Kellogg and began
selling his own hand-operated peanut butter grinder in 1896. Almeeta Lambert
published the first nut cookbook, "The Complete Guide to Nut Cookery" in
By 1914, many companies were making
Joseph L. Rosenfield invented a churning
process that made smooth peanut butter smooth. In 1928, Rosenfield licensed
his invention to the Pond Company, the makers of Peter Pan peanut butter.
In 1932, Rosenfield began making his own brand of peanut butter called
Skippy which included a crunchy style peanut butter.
Washington Carver discovered three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds
more uses for soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes. He did start popularizing
uses for peanut products including peanut butter, paper, ink, and oils
beginning in 1880. (With the most famous of Carver's research taking
place after he arrived in Tuskeegee in 1896.) However, Carver did not patent
peanut butter as he believed food products were all a gift from god. The
1880 date precedes all the above inventors accept of course for the Incas,
who were probably first. It was Carver that made peanuts a significant crop
in the American south in the early 1900's.
After all peanut butter is just roasted
peanuts crushed into a paste. One-half of all edible peanuts produced in
the United States are used to make peanut butter and peanut spreads.
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