Peanuts are native to the Americas and since Aztec times have been made into a paste to be eaten. Modern peanut butter originated in the late 1800’s with the first patent dating back to 1884, but it was much runnier than modern versions.
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg patented another paste in 1895 that is
much more similar to what we see today and served it to patients
at the Battle Creek Sanitarium as a health supplement. It was
originally so expensive that it became a staple of luxury in the
early 1900’s and was commonly served in upper class tearooms that
populated New York and was paired with a wide array of foods such
as cheese, celery, watercress, pimento, and crackers.
The first reference of peanut butter paired with jelly is from a
recipe by Julia Davis in 1901, and by 1920 the sandwich caught the
attention of less wealthy members of society and spread peanut
butter around the nation.
As the price of peanut butter lowered, it became extremely popular
with children and today it is one of the most widespread food
items in America. In fact, the spread is so popular there is even
a National Peanut Butter Day on January 24th.