Debate: Peanut Butter or Jelly?

By Jake and Mary 

People are always deeming things “greater than sliced bread,” but can we really call bread greater than what we spread on or put in between it? If those things cease to exist, does sliced bread remain great? This debate will not answer those question, because, frankly, they are too philosophical for a comedy debate. Instead, we will be deconstructing the American dietary staple, peanut butter and jelly, and try to find out which of the two sandwich ingredients is the best.

Jake: Peanut butter and jelly are a harmonious pair; they are a legendary team like Abbot and Costello or the Bad News Bears. Separate they can be seen as weak, but together they are stronger than Hulk Hogan circa WrestleMania III. Yet, to choose between the two is one of the easiest decisions I have ever made: jelly is superior.

Peanut butter may be more versatile, but jelly is so darn sweet. I can spread jelly on a piece of toast and call it a day, but I cannot do the same with peanut butter. It is simply too dry. According to Chris Rock, in prison people put jelly in their assholes for others to eat out and that is called a “tossed salad.” The only sexual act that peanut butter is widely used for is bestiality. Bestiality is rape and I do not support condiments that rapists use over ones they do not use.

Mary: There is a reason PB comes before J and it has nothing to do with bestiality or Chris Rock. Jelly is sticky and when I think of jelly, I think of children with little jammy-hands and jelly-stained faces getting everything they touch sticky. I don't know about you, but I prefer not to be reminded that these smaller, boisterous versions of adults exist at all, let alone be bothered by this fact while I'm trying to eat. Stickiness aside, peanut butter offers more nutritional benefits, like protein, but even more remarkable is what it doesn't contain: ground-up cattle hoofs. Peanut butter is simply mashed up peanuts, sometimes a little salt, sometimes honey. That’s it. Everyone knows peanut butter was mastered by George Washington Carver. Who invented jelly? Nobody knows this because nobody cares.

Jake: First of all, the Aztecs invented peanut butter. Everybody knows that. Jelly was supposedly invented in the Middle East, which is the real reason Americans do not care. Since I am not a complete racist like Mary, I do care-- even if I was born in the USA. I love jelly, jams and preserves. They are sweet and make otherwise awful bread products edible. I could eat jelly off of a playing card and I often do. My favorite is the ace of hearts. I don’t know why, but it just tastes better than the other cards. There are no cattle hooves in jelly, jam or preserves, they use pectin! Pectin is nature’s ground up cow bones. Peanut butter has protein in it-- too much if you ask me. Plus, any peanut butter that isn’t “natural” contains high fructose corn syrup. HFCS is essentially rat poison.

Mary: I’ll admit I’m not well-versed in the distinction between gelatin and pectin, but I stated that George Washington Carver mastered peanut butter, not invented it, which means he took the ground up peanuts and made it into the even more palatable spread we find in the jar today. Non-natural peanut butter has partially hydrogenated oil, not HFCS, which is why you can find natural pb’s on the shelf at just about every grocery store. Jelly, on the other hand, is almost always found chock full of rat poison. I can’t believe this is even up for discussion and actually pity Jake for having to pretend that jelly is better than peanut butter. In fact, we don’t really need jelly at all; have you ever tried a peanut butter and honey sandwich? In 3rd grade, I read in a Weekly Reader that President Bill Clinton’s favorite sandwich was peanut butter and banana - also jelly-free - and when I ate it as my after-school snack, I decided I was no longer a Republican. How can jelly be better than peanut butter when jelly is obsolete? How can jelly be better than peanut butter when jelly ruins a perfectly fine jar of peanut butter by invading it to become the vile concoction ‘Goober’?

Jake: Skippy peanut butter does contain HFCS, and probably many other brands. I live in the mid-west where almost everything is made out of HFCS because it is merely a way to sell corn, much like ethanol. Your points about honey and bananas are exactly why peanut butter isn’t great. You need a sweetener to be able to choke it down. Sure, rat poison might be sweet, and it gives cocaine an extra oomph that is sometimes pretty nice, but I do not prefer it usually. Jelly is made out of fruit and pectin. We do not need to run in circles over that fact. How can you say jelly is obsolete when there are more flavors of it than ever and it takes up much more space on the supermarket shelf than peanut butter. Peanut butter and jelly are the yin and yang of a somewhat unhealthy lunch menu, but they compliment each other, like I compliment Mary when she gets her hair cut. Frankly, I am not raging against the peanut butter like Mary is doing to jelly. I like both, but just feel that jelly is easier to eat alone on a piece of bread than peanut butter. After all, it does stick to the roof of your mouth.

Mary: I have yet to verify the validity of your statement on occupying grocery store shelves, but let's just assume that is the case and proceed. I think it's safe to say the only reason jelly takes up more room than peanut butter in a grocery store is because there are so many kinds of fruit in this world. Peanut butter only has unnatural/natural versions of chunky and creamy (and sometimes honey roasted) but I don't see this as a limiting factor; I think it's liberating. With jelly, I'd have to decide among thousands of types of fruit - let alone whether it's naturally or artificially flavored - and there's no way I can determine which one jar I'm in the mood for and what I may or may not be in the mood for later. This is a lot like making plans or being in a committed relationship, this does not rank high on my list of things I'm going to do instead of doing the things I currently do. I'd never be satisfied with so many options and while Jake is standing in the aisle, sensibly considering which will pair best with the Ace of Hearts card, I've become paralyzed by the overwhelming paradox of choice in a world of scarcity. When you share a fridge with 4 other people, you only have so much room for jars of jelly. On the contrary, having fewer available options of peanut butter allows me to pick up my standard jar and be on my way to go and live my simple life of organized chaos in between peanut butter and banana sandwich feedings. Furthermore, I'd much rather un-stick the stuck-on peanut butter from the roof of my mouth than walk around with a sticky jelly-face.

I enjoy these debates in part because I learn so much, like how jelly is made or that cocaine may contain rat poison - such a thing you just don’t learn on the streets of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn - but one thing is for sure that we will not learn today is that jelly is better than peanut butter and that more is less.


  1. "Unnatural" peanut butter is sold by Focus on the Family. Check their website.

    I choose peanut butter. I've never liked jelly and the combination of them by Smuckers into "Goober" has long been attacked by Focus on the Family.

  2. Peanut Butter and Honey 4 Lyfe.


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