The Origins of Peanuts and Peanut Butter
Though George Washington Carver is widely recognized as the father of the peanut industry for his discovery of over 300 unique uses for peanuts, he cannot be accredited with the invention of peanut butter. Read on to learn about the peanut’s expansive history and the fascinating journey that led us to the delectable creamy or crunchy commodity we enjoy today.
A Brief History
Peanuts originated in South and Central America where they were used as special offerings and mixed into foods and drinks as early as 1500 B.C. Eventually, European explorers discovered the tasty and versatile legume and brought peanuts back to their homeland to enjoy and distribute to Asia and Africa. In the 1700s, peanuts were introduced to North America, but they did not become a commercialized crop until the early 1800s.
Peanuts became more well-known after the Civil War, where both armies grew to enjoy and rely on the high-protein food for survival. However, popularity spiked in the late 1800s when vendors from PT Barnum’s traveling circus advertised their peanuts to massive crowds across the country. As the supply of peanuts increased thanks to labor-saving inventions, demand increased as well, and individuals experimented with delicious new ways to prepare peanuts. Soon enough peanuts were enjoyed in peanut butter, candies, with different flavors for roasting, and more.
Peanut butter, first developed by a St. Louis physician as a protein substitute for those with weak teeth, eventually became an American staple for adults and children. Peanut butter was also an essential element of military rations during the first two world wars. Many attribute the development and popularization of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich to members of the U.S. Armed Forces who relied on the nutritional value of peanut butter throughout their service.
Peanuts and Peanut Butter Today
Although this nutty delicacy has been around for over 100 years, peanut butter remains an American diet staple, thanks to its nutritional and economical benefits for families. Peanuts are the 12th most valuable cash crop grown in the United States, with the industry valued at over 1 billion U.S. dollars. Additionally, according to the National Peanut Board, Americans eat more than six pounds of peanut products each year, with peanut butter accounting for about half of all edible peanut usage, and we don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.
Hampton Farms has been delivering the freshest, highest quality peanuts from our fields to your homes since 1917. We are committed to producing the finest variety of peanut-based snacks with the integrity and pride inherent in American farming. Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or headed to the ballpark with your family, Hampton Farms nuts are the perfect snack to share and enjoy together.