One of the most nostalgic foods for many of us is the peanut butter sandwich – it’s the perfect combination of creamy or crunchy, sweet and salty.
As children, we scarf these things down, but do we really ever lose the taste?
Lee Zalben, or ‘The Peanut Butter Guy’ according to his blog, thinks not. He’s taken peanut butter and given it a grown-up twist, turning it into a successful niche food business. He grew up in Philly and often held sandwich competitions with his college friends trying to come up with the most unique and delicious sandwiches.
Finally, in 1998 he snatched up a vacant store front in NYC and opened the Peanut Butter and Company sandwich shop, where he got started selling his creations, as well as classic sandwiches like the ‘Elvis’ and the ‘Pregnant Lady’. Peanut butter seems to be the perfect product: everyone loves it.
Like their mission states:
“Someone once said that the next best thing to sliced bread is peanut butter. But for a growing number of our customers, Peanut Butter & Co. brand peanut butter on sliced bread is THE best thing period.”
It wasn’t long after opening his store that he began selling his custom gourmet peanut butter in retail jars throughout the country. Now, customers can enjoy twelve different flavors, including the unique, honey-laced ‘Bees-Knees’ and the more classic ‘Smooth Operator’ and ‘Crunch Time’ in their own homes.
Most of his peanut butter products are even vegan – save the honey option, which is vegetarian.
They’ve also expanded to include jellies, nut mikes, gift assortments and all sorts of gear to show off their customers loyalty. Today, Zalbens peanut butter can be found in over 10,000 stores in the U.S., Canada, Japan and Hong Kong. Customers can also order their treats online and have them shipped directly to their doors.
Zalbens also maintains a blog and YouTube channel where he offers creative recipes in which to incorporate his products, and interesting tidbits about food in general. From sweet deserts to savory side dishes and healthful smoothies, it showcases the more gourmet side of peanut butter with recipes like peanut butter green curry tofu and even peanut butter beer.
Not only can customers enjoy a more grown up version of the classic, but they can create healthy, creative recipes using the unique combinations that The Peanut Butter Co. offers. One of the more creative flavors features a blend of spicy, savory additions, which is great for use in cooking dishes like satays and stir fries.
Image: Peanut Butter & Co.