Friday, August 07, 2009

Make it or buy it: peanut butter and jelly sandwich

First of all, there is this. I was on Marketplace, the great radio show. I haven't listened yet -- maybe after a big tumbler of cherry bounce -- but my sister assures me it is not embarrassing.

And there is this, which was a total surprise and special, since I make a point of seeing every movie Dana Stevens recommends. 

Now, the results of the Uncrustables taste test are in. 

The verdict of three children and one adult: If this is the best Smuckers can do, civilization is safe. I feared the Uncrustables would be irresistible, like heroin or Sugar Pops, but they are very resistible, like warm Miller Genuine Draft or stale Frosted Flakes. 
The only thing that strikes me as dangerously delicious about this product is the thin band of jelly, which is super-sweet, as in a jelly donut. We like that. But the peanut butter is gummy, the bread is dry, the whole production, lame. The homemade pb&j I made for comparison purposes was luscious and sloppy and extravagant and fresh, and it easily carried the day.

Unsurprisingly, it was also cheaper. Uncrustables were on sale at Safeway for $2.50 a box, which breaks down to 63 cents for a very wee sandwich. (I actually like the size; we need more undersized junk food.) The homemade sandwich was bigger -- maybe twice as big, though I didn't weigh it -- and cost 51 cents. Both were made with low-quality, nonorganic ingredients. If you factor in the size, you're getting a lot more calories for your money with a homemade sandwich. Maybe that's a good thing, maybe it's not.

Make or buy your peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Make it, of course Homemade is tastier and cheaper and how hard is it really to assemble? That said, I am less horrified by this phenomenon than I was.  These are stupid little sandwiches and not worth hating.

We're getting on a plane now. I'm a little rushed so I apologize for typos. My mother, sister, brother-in-law, niece, kids -- we're all going to Guatemala to visit family for 10 days. Some of us made the mistake of reading State Department warnings about violent crime in Guatemala. It has taken some of the luster off the journey, but I understand we will be riding in armored cars so should survive. 


  1. The thing, too, about Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches is that everyone has been making them forever and likes them in a particular way -- more PB than J, more J than PB, butter, type of bread -- so offering packaged PBJ is unnecessary. ... Something like a Pop Tart is sui generis, so there's no comparison. ...
    I supposed if they were really good, packaged PBJ's could be like Eggo's, which taste like Eggo's, not waffles.

  2. the thing too is that institutions are buying uncrustables and they cost MORE! I know you did not factor in the cost of labor but in a school like mine where the kitchen workers are hired for the day it certainly doesn't cost less for them to open the package than to make a few sandwiches. I guess the plus side for them is that the uncrustable keeps forever and extra homemade sandwiches would have to be thrown out. but the kids don't eat the uncrustable. they throw THAT out.

    ARMORED cars??? yikes.

  3. Hi - just heard your story on KQED. Very cool! You sound smart and reasonable. And your blog is so fun and easy to read I read two full pages without being particularly interested in cooking or Vietnam. Congrats and all the best.

  4. I was listening to Marketplace this weekend, and as they introduced the story on a food blogger who does price comparisons of store-bought vs. homemade food, I thought "Wow, this sounds a lot like the Tipsy Baker." And I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was right!!

    It was a great segment - those bagels sound amazing. When you get up the courage to listen to it, you will be pleased.

    I don't think I would ever like an uncrustable - but I was raised on the Adams Peanut all-natural butter by my hippie parents, and to this day I find all the store brand peanut butter kind of gross.


  5. Thanks for doing the "work" I didn't of actually trying the Uncrustable yourself--and congrats on the great press! So fun and so well deserved.
    Safe, fun, delicious travels!

  6. the radio debut is fantastic! when can we expect the movie?

  7. yes, Congratulations, Tipsy on the well-deserved press!

    I wanted to add to what Mary said, above, about opening an "Uncrustable" package taking as much time as making a sandwich.

    All these packaged fast foods create so much garbage! I hope, in your cost comparisons, you'll include waste as an issue.

    And one needs to carry scissors these days to open dang near everything. (And then there's the inherent frustration involved in opening so many of these plastic coverings. yikes)

  8. The piece on Marketplace was how I discovered your blog. You were great and I'm glad that I'm a follower now!