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Why Peanut Butter and Crackers Are a Beautiful Thing

"Perhaps the most famous peanut butter and cracker combination is one of the most unusual: Lance's venerable Toast-Chee."

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©iStockphoto.com/HaywardGaude

Crackers and peanut butter. If there were ever two foods made for each other, it's these two. Crackers—so light and crispy, the perfect platform for a dollop of rich, creamy peanut butter; a savory and sweet counterpoint to the cracker's relatively dry existence.

When we were little, my brother and I used to have contests to see who could build the tallest stack of Saltines, each crispy square mortared to the next with a layer of peanut butter. Of course the most fun was when the towers toppled and we got to eat them.

At the Peanut Butter & Co. sandwich shop in New York City, we serve something called "The Sampler," which is an assortment of all of our different peanut butter varieties with celery and carrot sticks, apple slices, and Melba toast—an extra long, extra thin, extra crunchy cracker, which makes a unique vehicle for peanut butter.

Perhaps the most famous peanut butter and cracker combination is one of the most unusual: Lance's venerable Toast-Chee. At the Peanut Butter & Co. sandwich shop we also serve a grilled cheese sandwich with peanut butter—most people grimace at the thought of the combination, but then they realize they've been getting orange cheese-flavored crackers with peanut butter from vending machines ever since they could count change.

Who knew that something as simple as peanut butter and crackers could push people's flavor boundaries?

Of course peanut butter and crackers is all about ratios. For me, the cracker is but a vehicle for the peanut butter—I like about a teaspoon of peanut butter per cracker. But others prefer a scant amount of peanut butter. While I cringe at the thought of all those knives across America lightly scraping "excess" peanut butter off crackers, I realize that this creates a far less caloric, albeit less indulgent, snack.

The fact that both peanut butter and crackers both have relatively long shelf and that neither need to be refrigerated, means they're perfect to stash in a desk drawer, dorm room, or even in the backseat of a car*.

*Note: we do not recommend spreading peanut butter on crackers while driving.

Do you have a peanut butter and crack(er) habit? Do you go for a prim and proper Carr's water cracker, or do you go ga-ga for the buttery, flaky texture of a Ritz? Perhaps you like the multigrain goodness of a Triscuit, or the nutty crunch of a Wheat Thin? Or, maybe you even cross borders and reach for Wasa, the famous Swedish crispbread.

About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.

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