The Story Behind the Famous Pickle and Peanut Butter Sandwich

Back in 2005 while visiting my cousins in New York City, we stumbled upon Peanut Butter & Co., a small sandwich shop in Greenwich Village. My cousins, who were studying at NYU at the time, shared that it was one of their favorite places to go and grab lunch between classes. While they did offer classics like the fluffernutter, and the original PB&J, one sandwich that really piqued my interest was the Pregnant Lady, a peanut butter sandwich topped with bread and butter pickles. There's no way people actually ordered a pickle and peanut butter sandwich, right?

Wrong. In 2017, Dwight Garner of The New York Times shared his love of the PB&P in his De Gustibus column. The article brought a whole new life to the combo and turned the internet upside down. It influenced every food website and foodie to question if pickles and peanut butter were meant to live together harmoniously in between white bread, myself included.

Many people's favorite sandwich is something classic like a grilled cheese or BLT. Some even go so far as to put potato chips in their PBJs or ketchup in their grilled cheeses. However, few sandwich recipes are as creative and delicious as the peanut butter pickle sandwich.

According to Slate, putting peanut butter & pickle on slices of bread got its start during the Great Depression. Americans were cutting corners any way they could, and pickles and peanut butter were cheap and plentiful at the grocery store. The sandwiches (including some for peanut butter and mayonnaise) found themselves at lunch counters, in school lunches, and in Depression-era cookbooks. However, today mention the words peanut butter and pickle slices in the same sentence and you'll probably hear a proclamation of disgust.

One person's yuck can be another's yum. Lee Zalben, founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co. has been slinging peanut butter sandwiches for hungry New Yorkers since 1998. Working one day, about thirteen years ago, Zalben noticed a pregnant woman walk into the shop. She was two weeks past due and she said she had a craving for a peanut butter and pickle sandwich. "I'd never heard of it. But we like to think we can take care of anyone's peanut butter craving." Zalben shared with the NYTimes. "So I ran to the corner store and bought a jar of pickles. I made two sandwiches, one for her and one for me. That was all it took."

"The first time I tried one, I had this incredible sense of tasting something really new for the first time," Zalben said. "I couldn't get it out of my head. I had one every day for a week."

How To Make The Perfect Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwich 

pickle and peanut butter sandwich
Lyndsay Burginger

According to Zalben, the best pickles to use on a PB&P are bread & butter while Garner prefers to stick with Claussen dill pickle slices. When I tried out this sandwich I used the last two Claussen dill pickles from the fridge and a spread of Jif natural creamy peanut butter.

Surprisingly I LOVED it. I've always loved eating pickles on the side of my PB&J sandwiches, and this sandwich hit the mark. The spears of kosher dill pickles were a bit cumbersome, so I would suggest you spread peanut butter on a slice of bread, add the spear, and fold in half. You could also cut the spear, I suppose.

I guess you can say I've officially joined the PB&P club. But why stop at just sandwiches? Here are some other PB&P inspired eats.

1. Pregnant Pickles

Pregnant Fried Pickles
Lyndsay Burginger

These pickles are fried up in a peanut butter batter. What can be better?

Get the recipe here. 

2. Peanut Butter Pickle Pancakes

pickle pancakes

Have you ever thought of combining pickles, peanut butter, and pancakes? Now's your chance to taste it for yourself.

Get the recipe here.

3. Pickle Ice Cream with Crunchy Peanut Butter Topping

Pickle Ice Cream

You can imagine this little bit savory and little bit sweet ice cream tastes pretty wild.

Get the recipe here. 

This article was originally published on February 25, 2020.

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