There's no denying that a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich is one of life's simple pleasures. But there's an even better kind of peanut butter sandwich treat and that's the Fluffernutter sandwich. If you grew up in New England, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The peanut butter and marshmallow fluff on white bread concoction has been beloved by kids and adults for decades, but the history of the Fluffernutter sandwich goes back to the beginning of the 20th century.
The origin story of this regional favorite starts in pre-World War I Massachusetts with the great-great-great grandchildren of Paul Revere (yes, that Paul Revere). Marshmallows in modern form were created in the 1800s, and by the end of the century, marshmallows were being used in frosting and sauces as well as eaten as candy and as an ice cream topping. In the early 1900s, marshmallow cream was sold as Marshmallow Fluff and Marshmallow Whip by Limpert Brothers and Whitman's, respectively.
And then siblings Amory and Emma Curtis, decendants of Paul Revere, founded the Curtis Marshmallow Factory in 1913 in Melrose, Massachusetts. Their signature product was Snowflake Marshmallow Crème, which was the first commercially successful shelf-stable marshmallow cream. Emma made the product a household staple by creating new recipes and printing them on small brochures, along with promoting them on a weekly radio show and in a newspaper column.
One of those recipes was for the Liberty Sandwich made with peanut butter and marshmallow crème. The sandwich was, according to the recipe, a way to get daily nutrients while meat was being rationed during World War I.
A little down the road from Amory and Emma in Somerville, Massachusetts, Archibald Query started making his own marshmallow crème in 1917 and selling it door to door. But with the restrictions on sugar during World War I, Query couldn't sustain the business. In 1920, he sold the recipe to candy makers H. Allen Durkee and Fred Mower for $500. By 1927, the Durkee-Mower "Toot Sweet Marshmallow Fluff" was being sold as a retail product.
In the 60s, the company hired a PR firm to help promote the peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff sandwich and this jingle, and a new name for the sandwich, was born:
Oh you need fluff, fluff, fluff
To make a fluffernutter
And lots of peanut butter.
First you spread, spread, spread
Your bread with peanut butter
And marshmallow fluff
And have a fluffernutter.
When you enjoy, enjoy, enjoy
Your fluff and peanut butter
You're glad you have enough for another fluffernutter.
Thus the Fluffernutter Sandwich was forever placed into pop culture and food history.
The Massachusetts state legislature did hold a week-long debate in 2006 over a proposal to name the Fluffernutter the official state sandwich. The debate was kicked off when Massachusetts State Senator Jarrett Barrios threatened to introduce legislation banning local schools from offering a Fluffernutter sandwich more than once a week after his son was served one at school. State Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein introduced the official state sandwich bill in response, vowing to "fight to the death for Fluff."
Although the legislation was never passed, the sandwich still holds a place of pride in the state. The town of Somerville celebrates its hometown Fluff pride with a What the Fluff? festival every year and October 8 is National Fluffernutter Day.
A Fluffernutter sandwich is easy to make, but you can take it to the next level with this recipe.
To make a grilled Fluffernutter, you need:
- Marshmallow Fluff
- creamy peanut butter
- 2 slices of bread (soft white bread is traditional, but you can use white, too)
Spread the Marshmallow Fluff on one slice of bread and the peanut butter on the other. Spread the butter on the outside of the bread (pro tip: melt the butter and brush it on the bread with a pastry brush). Heat a pan over medium heat and then cook the sandwich a few minutes on each side, until the bread is golden brown. Give it a minute to cool (hot marshmallow fluff is bad for your mouth) and enjoy this New England favorite!