Salary Survey Extra: Settling the creamy vs. crunchy peanut butter conundrum
Posted on
February 9, 2023

Salary Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Two peanut butters enter, one leaves. Crunchy or creamy?

In the long and nourishing history of dietary staples, perhaps no issue has proven so divisive as the contentious debate between crunchy peanut butter and creamy (or smooth) peanut butter. It's a binary, on-or-off, A-or-B decision. Just like you can't pretend that James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard are both the best captain of the Enterprise in the history of Star Trek, you can't Stan for crunchy and creamy at the same time.

Peanut butter scholarship asserts that the ancient inhabitants of the Inca Empire were the first people to pulverize peanuts before eating them. It was American physician and nutritionist John Harvey Kellogg, however, who pioneered the peanut butter we know and love today. Kellogg (also noted for his development of dry breakfast cereals) filed a patent in 1895 for a "food compound" created by boiling nuts and then grinding them into a paste. A Seventh-day Adventist and strong advocate of plant-based nutrition, Kellogg envisioned "nut butters" (his patent did not specify peanuts) as a healthful meat substitute.

Peanut butter gradually gained in popularity over the next couple of decades, with various innovators and corporations refining Kellogg's original process. The outbreak of World War I, which eventually led to nationwide meat rationing, assured the, ahem, spread of peanut butter from coast to coast — partially fulfilling Kellogg's vision of peanut butter satisfying the national appetite for meat. By the time that World War II revived nationwide meat rationing, peanut butter was in use both at home and abroad, with peanut butter becoming a staple of the foodstuffs in stock at U.S. military bases.

Creamy peanut butter apparently came first, with crunchy peanut butter emerging later as a brand-differentiating novelty.

Partisans of crunchy peanut butter can point to the fact that, in addition to being more heartily filling and providing a more rigorously satisfying eating experience, crunchy peanut butters are slightly higher in fiber and have less saturated fat. On the other hand, disciples of creamy peanut butter can attest that, in addition to its unchallenging and uncomplicated comestibility, creamy peanut butter can be used as a spackling agent, or in a pinch to affix dentures to one's gums.

We here at Certification Magazine remain rigorously neutral as to which peanut butter is preferable. We know that passion for spreadable peanuts is potent, however, and that's why it occurred to us, while preparing the 2023 Salary Survey, to seek additional insight from certified IT professionals. Yes, this is another of those articles where we draw data from the Not So Serious questions that get tacked on at the tail end of the Salary Survey each year.

Once and for all, then, which is it? Is crunchy peanut butter without doubt the best and tastiest form of peanut butter, or is creamy peanut butter a sugar-and-oil-saturated sop to all of the kids out there who don't like doobies? (Rigorous neutrality!) Here's what we learned: 

Q: The only true peanut butter is:

Creamy — 28.9 percent
Crunchy — 19.5 percent
Extra Crunchy — 16 percent
The peanuts don't even have to be shelled, just spread them on the bread. — 12 percent
The texture doesn't matter as long it doesn't have sugar in it. — 9.7 percent
Peanut butter is nasty. — 7.1 percent
Only kids eat peanut butter. — 6.8 percent

First of all, while peanut butter has transcended its American roots, U.S. peanut butter consumption still far outstrips global peanut butter consumption. Perhaps that explains why 76 percent of the certified IT professionals who believe that "Peanut butter is nasty" are from other countries. To be clear, non-U.S. IT professionals expressed a range of opinions about peanut butter. They just dominated the "nasty" category.

At a glance, it would appear that creamy peanut butter carried the day, favored by a higher percentage of respondents than any other single option. Keen-eyed observers, however, will note that there are three different answer options that essentially fall under the "crunchy" heading. If you add up the votes for "crunchy," "extra crunchy," and "the peanuts don't even have to be shelled, etc.," then the overwhelming consensus, espoused by a resounding 47.5 percent of all respondents, is that crunchy peanut butter is objectively better than creamy.

A handful of those surveyed are are willing to dip their oar on either side of the peanut butter canoe, so to speak. And there are a few snobs who probably haven't eaten peanut butter since the last time that somebody packed them a lunchbox to take to school. Sure thing, highbrows. There will just be more crunchy peanut butter available to everyone out there who is secure enough in his or her or their adult identity to not be deterred from deliciousness out of fear of jeering from the mob.

About the Author

Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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