Peanut Butter and Jelly on a burger – Where did it all begin?
The hamburger is a classic American food alongside hot dogs and apple pie–and chefs all over the country are riffing on it. One uncommon burger combination that continues to pop up on American menus is the Peanut Butter and Jelly Burger. Much like the Philly Taco, the PB&J burger started regionally but has become a classic specialty sandwich at many American burger joints.
Burger expert Cesar Cortez, CEO of Southern California-based El Brewjo Burgers, explained the phenomenon to GreenState. “Upfront, it sounds like a weird combo, but I have had peanut sauces in Asian cuisine, so it’s not so farfetched.”
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The origins of the hamburger
The hamburger’s origin story is greasy. Historians credit more than one cook with its invention. In 2007, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a resolution claiming that Missouri-born Texas local Fletcher Davis invented the hamburger, which he debuted at the 1904 St. Louis world fair.
However, the Library of Congress cites another source. Louis Lassen, the founder of Louis’ Lunch, is said to have added the hamburger to his restaurant menu in 1900. The restaurant is still family-owned, operating in New Haven, CT, and serving a burger in the same style as Great-Great-Great Grandpa Louis.
The first burger iterations were simple, featuring ground or minced beef trimmings between two pieces of sandwich bread, often with slices of Vidalia onion, pickled cucumbers, and possibly mayonnaise and mustard.
Enter: the PB&J Burger
Since the early 1900s, burger flavors have expanded to include various unlikely combinations, like the peanut butter and jelly burger. Cortez tried the peanut butter and jelly burger from chain restaurant Slater’s 50/50, which also includes bacon, and like most people we spoke to, he was surprised at how much he enjoyed the dish.
“The flavor combinations work! The jelly brings a sweetness that counterbalances the savory elements brought from the beef and bacon. The peanut butter aspect will not be for everyone, but the bacon works well with the peanut butter, and even better if it’s runny enough to coat the entire burger patty,” Cortez explained. “Add pickles to really round out the flavors with its added acidity to the sweet and saltiness of the burger.”
Who invented the Peanut Butter & Jelly Burger?
The PB&J hamburger appears to have started with the Guberburger, a regional specialty at The Wheel Inn. The Great American Burger Book by George Motz believes this to be the first iteration of peanut butter on a burger with peanut butter, mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato. And since then, burger chefs and content creators have been creating their version of the flavor combination.
The combination must work because restaurants around the country have released their spin on the PB&J burger. Philadelphia-based PYT Burger, known for “Stunt Burgers” like the Lasagna-Bun Burger, shared their version of the peanut butter and jelly burger in 2014, one of the earliest riffs we found.
Rather than plop peanut butter on the top of the patty, PYT uses breaded, fried, kettle-chip rolled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as buns. The burger patty is marinated in banana-Sriracha sauce and topped with bacon, rolling in at around 2,000 calories.
It appears this is the first time bacon made its way onto a PB&J Burg, but it was certainly not the last. And this flavor combination will likely continue inspiring chefs to conceptualize how peanut butter and ground beef might complement one another.
“I would recommend this burger to anyone who considers themselves a foodie. Those who are adventurous and unafraid to try new things and explore new flavors. I can understand the apprehension, but PB & J really does work!” Cortez concluded.