If you're looking for an excuse to kick back and celebrate, you've got several sterling opportunities coming up. You got your Easter and your St. Patrick's Day, your Earth Day and your Cinco De Mayo. But those all pale in comparison to the one holiday that hits me right where I live, the one that means more to me that all those above combined. For March 1, just scant days from now, is National Peanut Butter Lover's Day.
To be fair, it's not officially a holiday. There is no Presidential Proclamation, no Act of Congress, no ethnic group that has celebrated this occasion going back for centuries. And don't confuse it with other similar celebrations, such as National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day on April 2, or National Peanut Butter Cookie Day on June 12. Worthy occasions both, but not the purebred affair. No, March 1 is a day reserved for those who are just as happy to open the jar, stick in a spoon and enjoy the substance in its most elemental form.
I know I'm not alone in this. The average American consumes more than six pounds of peanuts and peanut butter products each year, and the average kid will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before he or she graduates high school. Four of the top 10 candy bars manufactured in the country contain peanuts or peanut butter, while the nuts themselves account for two-thirds of all snack nuts consumed in the USA. Of course, there are those of you who don't like peanuts, or heaven forbid, are even allergic. But even if you've never touched the stuff, the numbers are what they are because I personally have more than made up for your reticence several times over.
No less than our Mom-In-Chief has said she's one of us. In spite of Michele Obama's campaign to stem childhood obesity, she keeps a special place in her stomach for what's really important. Yes, she has a White House garden filled with kale and broccoli and spinach, and has even been known to encourage Special Forces soldiers to eat their veggies. Yet when asked at a live Town Hall meeting this month in Florida about her own eating propensity, she said her favorite food to stoke her up before a workout was peanut butter and apples. Peanut butter and apples! You go, girl! Er, First Lady!
I should also point out that in spite of the current movement in the country to prove one's purity, I'm hardly an ideologue in this area. I'm OK with those who prefer smooth, though I'm a chunky guy myself. And I have been known to eat a Reese's Pieces or two (of three or four). I'm OK if you combine it with strawberry jam, or spread some on a banana, or use a version over ice cream. And In my younger (and thinner) days, combining a well slathered piece of bread with one equally adorned with Marshmallow Fluff was the height of haute cuisine.
Thankfully, others haven't been content to let the state of the art stagnate. At this year's Pillsbury bakeoff, there is a special “Jif Peanut Butter Award" given to the best recipe that uses at least a ¼ cup of Jif Peanut Butter. Finalists include May Beth Mandola's Peanut Butter Boston Cream Cake and Nadine Clark's Thai Chicken Subs. The winner? You'll have to go to Orlando in March to see if Mary Field's Peanut Butter Creme Cookie Cups get crowned.
Don't laugh: this is serious business. We're talking the very definition of a cash crop, one that contributes more than $4 billion to the country's economy each year. So don't go lumping this date in with National Tapioca Pudding Day (July 15) or National Papaya Month (September). Those are similar, though none of them are as official as the one described in Presidential Proclamation #5157, which reads, "Now, therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim March 6, 1984, as Frozen Food Day,"
But that comes later in the month. Instead, end the dictates of big government, and take matters into your own hands. Come March 1, go to your cupboard and take out your Peter Pan or your Skippy and chow down. Lick the spoon clean, and willfully get some stuck to the roof of your mouth. And pay no attention to the fact that some idiot also made March 1 National Pig Day. Hard to imagine something so silly, isn't it?
Marc Wollin of Bedford thinks Reese's Cups may be the most perfect food on the planet. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at http://www.glancingaskance.blogspot.com/.