independent kiwi spirit of invention.
Research Topic: Origin of Peanut Butter
By Ian Mander, 7 December 1999.
Question: Who invented peanut butter?
Answer: Possibly the Chinese. It has a very long history, but
the first patent was lodged by Dr John Harvey Kellogg, who also invented
In a newsletter from earlier this year, Dick Hubbard (Hubbard Foods Ltd)
claims it was Dr Kellogg - the same person who invented corn flakes. However,
for many years I've thought that it was George Washington Carver,
a Christian who refused to believe that God would make anything useless
- which peanuts were pretty much thought to be. He discovered that they
fixed nitrogen in the soil and all sorts of other thing including (from
memory) finding a way to use them in ice cream.
A good place to look for information is the online Encyclopedia
Brittanica. Searching under Carver, George Washington, we find a great
He ultimately developed 300 derivative products from peanuts--among
them cheese, milk, coffee, flour, ink, dyes, plastics, wood stains,
soap, linoleum, medicinal oils, and cosmetics--and 118 from sweet
potatoes, including flour, vinegar, molasses, rubber, ink, a synthetic
rubber, and postage stamp glue.
Definitely worth a read. But peanut butter was already in production
by that time.
History of Peanut Butter
[Stolen shamelessly from the Peanut Butter Lovers Club's History
There are many claims about the origin of peanut butter. Africans ground
peanuts into stews as early as the 15th century. The Chinese have crushed
peanuts into creamy sauces for centuries. Civil War soldiers dined on
'peanut porridge.' These uses, however, bore little resemblance to peanut
butter as it is known today.
In 1890, an unknown St. Louis physician supposedly encouraged the owner
of a food products company, George A. Bayle Jr., to process and package
ground peanut paste as a nutritious protein substitute for people with
poor teeth who couldn't chew meat. The physician apparently had experimented
by grinding peanuts in his hand-cranked meat grinder. Bayle mechanized
the process and began selling peanut butter out of barrels for about
6¢ per pound.
Around the same time, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg in Battle Creek, Michigan,
began experimenting with peanut butter as a vegetarian source of protein
for his patients. His brother, W.K. Kellogg, was business manager of
their sanitarium, the Western Health Reform Institute, but soon opened
Sanitas Nut Company which supplied foods like peanut butter to local
The Kelloggs' patent for the "Process of Preparing Nut Meal"
in 1895 described "a pasty adhesive substance that is for convenience
of distinction termed nut butter." However, their peanut butter
was not as tasty as peanut butter today because the peanuts were steamed,
instead of roasted, prior to grinding. The Kellogg brothers turned their
attention to cereals which eventually gained them worldwide recognition.
Joseph Lambert, a Kellogg employee who had worked on developing food
processing equipment, began selling his own hand-operated peanut butter
grinders in 1896. Three years later, his wife Almeeta published the
first nut cookbook, "The Complete Guide to Nut Cookery" and
two years later the Lambert Food Company was organized.
Dr George Washington Carver
In 1903, Dr. George Washington Carver began his peanut research at
Tuskeegee Institute in Alabama. While peanut butter had already been
developed by then, Dr. Carver developed more than 300 other uses for
peanuts and so improved peanut horticulture that he is considered by
many to be the father of the peanut industry.
Peanut Butter Goes Mainstream
C.H. Sumner was the first to introduce peanut butter to the world at
the Universal Exposition of 1904 in St. Louis. He sold $705.11 of the
treat at his concession stand and peanut butter was on its way to becoming
an American favorite!
Krema Products Company in Columbus, Ohio began selling peanut butter
in 1908 ~ and is the oldest peanut butter company still in operation
today. Krema's founder, Benton Black, used the slogan, "I refuse
to sell outside of Ohio." This was practical at the time since
peanut butter packed in barrels spoiled quickly and an interstate road
system had not yet been built.
Peanut Butter As We Know It
In 1922, Joseph L. Rosefield began selling a number of brands of peanut
butter in California. These peanut butters were churned like butter
so they were smoother than the gritty peanut butters of the day. He
soon received the first patent for a shelf-stable peanut butter which
would stay fresh for up to a year because the oil didn't separate from
the peanut butter.
One of the first companies to adopt this new process was Swift &
Company for its E.K. Pond peanut butter ~ renamed Peter Pan in 1928.
In 1932, Rosefield had a dispute with Peter Pan and began producing
peanut butter under the Skippy label the following year. Rosefield created
the first crunchy style peanut butter two years later by adding chopped
peanuts into creamy peanut butter at the end of the manufacturing process.
In 1955, Procter & Gamble entered the peanut butter business by
acquiring W.T. Young Foods in Lexington, Kentucky, makers of Big Top
Peanut Butter. They introduced Jif in 1958 and now operate the world's
largest peanut butter plant ~ churning out 250,000 jars every day!
independent kiwi spirit of invention.