Some time ago Richard posted his rules for revising movies. I thought listing the rules was a good idea and I decided to do the same for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches:
1. No orange marmalade permitted. Some years ago I was interviewing a candidate for a position at the law firm and asked him what he thought was the best PB and J combo. He said the jelly had to be orange marmalade. Just the thought of it made me gag. Orange marmalade, the veiny, goopy concoction, combined with peanut butter? Heresy! You might as well use marmite.
2. Keep it neat. I hate it when people make the sandwich with too much jelly. We can argue about whether you should use grape jelly or strawberry preserves, creamy or crunchy peanut butter, white bread or wheat — but can we all agree that the sandwich should be constructed so that you can take a bite without jelly leaking out the sides and falling onto your lap? It’s messy and wasteful. A great sandwich is a well-constructed sandwich, and you should be able to enjoy every morsel without scraping ingredients off your pants leg.
3. It’s a sandwich, not a dessert. I don’t get people who put bananas, sugar, and similar items in their PB and Js. Don’t make the sandwich into some sickeningly sweet combination, and don’t try to overpower or mask the peanut taste. Let the peanuts leave their mark on your taste buds!
4. No fancy bread, please. In many restaurants (and even in Subways) they try to jazz up routine sandwiches by putting things on focaccia bread, oregano/cheese flatbread, and similar high brow breads. Please resist the temptation to experiment with weird breads when you make your PB and J. The bread is an important component of the sandwich, but it cannot and should not be the focus.
5. Keep your butter to yourself. When I was a kid I went to a friend’s house for lunch. His Mom served PB and Js that she prepared by first slathering butter on the bread on the jelly side of the sandwich. I asked about it and she politely explained that the butter acted as a kind of barrier against dreaded seepage of the jelly through the bread. I think the butter makes the sandwich a bit too slimy, plus I think a little seepage is a good thing. Meaningful interaction between the bread, the jelly, and the peanut butter should not be avoided, but encouraged and celebrated.