Making the Case For Peanut Butter on a Hamburger

Hey, Karl, I asked, which would you put on a hamburger, crunchy or creamy peanut butter?

Karl coughed violently so I pounded him on the back.

"Are you trying to kill me?" he said after he recovered. "Don't say things like that when I'm eating. I nearly died."

Oh, calm yourself, Howard Hughes. You choked on your beer, not contracted ebola.

"You say 'potato,'" said Karl, wiping his mouth. "Now what crazy nonsense have you gotten into your head this week?"

I sighed. Which kind of peanut butter is better on a hamburger, creamy or crunchy?

We were sitting at First Editions, our favorite literary-themed bar, for a late lunch/drinking session at three in the afternoon, and we were the only ones in the place. Kurt the bartender had stationed us at the far end of the bar and had just used a billiards bridge to push our plates to us.

Kurt, you just served a room full of people three hours ago, I said. The windows are open and we're the only ones here. Plus we just got tested. I think you'll be safe.

"It's not that," said Kurt. "I heard what you just said, and I don't want to get snared in another of you guys' asinine arguments."

Karl and I rolled our eyes at each other. Whatever, I said. Now answer my question.

"Obviously neither," said Karl. Putting peanut butter on a hamburger is nasty and wrong!"

Have you ever had it?

"Of course not. It sounds like an abomination."

Says you. You've never even tried it, so you can't actually say for certain that it's good or bad.

"Yeah, but I don't need to try heroin to know that it's bad for me."

Ignoring your reductio ad absurdum argument for the moment, which is completely juvenile and wildly illogical, the two aren't even a valid comparison. One is a life-changing experience that will broaden your emotional horizons and take you to dizzying heights of ecstasy, and the other is a highly-illegal drug.

"I'll take my chances with the heroin," said Karl.

Fine, but at least answer the bigger question: Which do you prefer, crunchy peanut butter or creamy?

"Creamy, all the way. Crunchy is nasty."

How can crunchy peanut butter be nasty? I said. It's literally the same product.

"Eating crunchy peanut butter is like eating bugs," said Karl. "The only time I ever had it, I thought I was eating those little roly-poly bugs."

"I agree," said Kurt, edging closer to our end of the bar. "Crunchy peanut butter is terrible."

You said you didn't want to get involved, I said. That's why you put us all the way down here.

One of you is spouting nonsense and I have to decide whether to throw you out.

Well, you're both proving my point. I read an article recently that said that people who prefer crunchy tend to have a cheerier outlook on life, and that 63 percent of crunchy fans are optimists. Only 56 percent of creamy fans do that, but they tend to be early risers and are more introverted. We crunchers stay up later and we're extroverts.

"Where are you even getting this?" demanded Karl.

I pulled out my phone and showed them the article. I continued: It says the good folks at Jif peanut butter commissioned a poll for part of National Peanut Butter Lovers Day two weeks ago—

"Did I miss that?" shouted Kurt. "I was going to dress up as Peter Pan!"

"Are you serious?" said Karl. "You're a grown man."

"You could have been Captain Hook," said Kurt.

"Oh, cool!" Karl look briefly excited and then tried to downplay his enthusiasm. "I mean, whatever." He took a manly swig of his beer and then murmured to Karl. "Halloween is in seven months. Let's talk in August."

But either style tastes great on a burger, I said.

"Why would you even ruin a hamburger that way?" asked Karl.

First of all, you don't use Jif or Peter Pan or anything with sugar. You need Smucker's Natural, which only contains peanuts and a little salt. It's the same kind of peanut butter you'd use for peanut sauce if you were making chicken satay.

"I do love a good chicken satay," said Karl.

"That's how I make it at home," said Kurt.

The point is to add a salty peanut flavor to the burger.

"Just any old hamburger?" asked Kurt.

Well, if you wanted to, I said. But my favorite is a cheeseburger with peanut butter, jalapeƱos, and a couple strips of bacon. Like this, I said, pointing at my plate.

"And what does that even taste like?" asked Kurt.

"Garbage, I'd expect," said Karl.

No, the bacon adds a smoky flavor, the peanut butter gives it a textured saltiness, and the jalapeƱos give it a bit of a kick. Here, try a bite.

Kurt picked up my hamburger and gave me a suspicious look before taking a small bite of my burger. He chewed slowly, glared daggers at me, then took a bigger bite.

Hey, don't bogart my lunch! I exclaimed.

"Mine now," he said with his mouthful. "Eat my sandwich."

I frowned. What is it?

"Portobello mushroom and Swiss with pineapple."

That sounds like an abomination.

Photo credit: Erik Deckers (@edeckers on Twitter)

My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finished and available on Amazon. You can get the Kindle version here or the paperback version here.