Blog, Sweet Blog

The College Years: The Great Sandwich Conspiracy

Posted on: Monday, May 31, 2004

Jif Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter - Pack of 12 (18 oz ea) image

Making my sandwiches happier since the early Naughties.

The following is an entry from my old college blog.  Please don’t poke fun and try to accept it for what it is…a junior writer’s first, boring blog.

mood: lazy

Gosh, I am lazy. Here it is, 20 days later and I am just getting to this story. Now, you are totally going to think this story sucks because there has been such a huge buildup and a lot of “Internet buzz.”  Random quote: WTF is the Internet?

Anyway, sorry. I guess I have been trying to take it easy (and by “take it easy”, I mean do nothing at all) after this past semester. In fact, this blog entry is yet another in a long line of time-wasters. I am scheduled to be cleaning the house right now, but I hate doing that, so why not blog? Why indeed? On to the story…

At some point, many weeks ago, I came to the conclusion that I really had to go grocery shopping. I had grown weary of eating fast food and home-cooked meals of crackers and peanut butter. Actually, I hadn’t grown weary of the home-cooked meals. I really like crackers and peanut butter, but I was out of both. So I waited around until the very last possible moment, made a list, and then headed to the local Safeway.

At the store, I followed my usual path from fruits and vegetables to breads (is this how everyone shops?). I had a problem in the peanut butter and jelly aisle though. For reasons I can’t explain, I usually buy Peter Pan peanut butter (crunchy, not smooth) in as big a container as they sell. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that my Mom always bought us Peter Pan.

My ex-peanut butter

Maybe I have a thing for the Peter Pan mythos…you know, The Lost Boys, Captain Hook, Tinkerbell, tights, whatever. Maybe it’s just the slick product packaging with its field of arterial red. After all, red can symbolize blood which can symbolize life…and I like to think I’m voting for life with every dollar I spend on large tubs of peanut butter. But I probably buy it because of my Mom.

Amway, that day was not a good day for fans of humungo tubs of crunchy Peter Pan. For one thing, there were no humungo tubs to be had. They had a tub of crunchy that was about the same size as a trial-size bottle of shampoo…no thanks. They had a good supply of smooth Peter Pan, but that just gives me the willys. I dislike smooth peanut butter for the same reason I dislike white bread. I am a fan of texture in my food. I like to be reminded that I am eating the paste formed of crushed-up nuts (or in the case of bread, crushed-up grains).

Note: As I was typing that last sentence, I glanced up and reread this line…”I dislike smooth peanut butter for the same reason I dislike white bread.” It’s a decent enough sentence, as sentences go, but I realize that it might not be the most profound thing one has ever said…even on the Internet. I might have to focus on stories with less peanut butter and more…um…love, sex, death, violence, passion, betrayal, guilt, loss, sadness, or honor if I want to make it onto NPR’s This American Life. Also, I need to revisit the lost art of spell-checking; I just misspelled “crushed”, twice.

So where was I? Oh yes, there was a serious lack of large tubs of crunchy Peter Pan. There were plenty of small tubs, a few big tubs of smooth, and some tubs of low sugar/low carbs/low taste crunchy Peter Pan…eww. Disheartened, I looked at the alternatives. There was a huge supply of Jif and a dazzling array of Jiffy. I chose the big tub of Jif crunchy for no good reason.

I had this conversation with someone a few weeks ago….and I’m paraphrasing…

me: I can’t claim that I make rational or informed decisions about anything I buy. Have you seen those Burger King ads? The ones with the young office workers battling it out over who got which burger or if you can make up your own catch phrase…”I’m spicy!”? I hate to admit it, but I love those ads. They make me want to go to BK and “have it my way”.

she: Yes, but you’re an educated person. Even though you like those ads, you recognize that they are selling more than just sandwiches. They are trying to sell a lifestyle and an image. You realize that, so you are a lot more informed than most of the consumers out there.

me: True. But when it comes to peanut butter, I wouldn’t stop buying Peter Pan unless I heard that they had started making it out of baby seals, dolphins, AND bald eagles (ed. foreshadowing!). Thanks to my education, I can make informed decisions about technology products, but when it comes to peanut butter, I am as dense as the next person. For all I know, Peter Pan could be a real person who grew up to become a ruthless multinational CEO who kidnaps children in the middle of the night to put them to work in his peanut butter factory in Never Never Land. The kidnapped children discover, only too late, that the Lost Boys are “lost” because they have been chained to the same peanut press since…since…whenever that book was written!

she: Ummm, I think I have to go find my friend.

So, as you can see, sometimes I do not behave like an informed/sane consumer. With the peanut butter in the basket, I chose a couple of jars of Smuckers jelly…again, not for any praticular reason.

Having survived the Safeway peanut butter crisis, I completed my shopping and made my way to the checkout. I chose a line with an older woman on the cash register and a young kid (maybe 16 or 17) on bagging detail. When my peanut butter and jelly came up for bagging, the kid said to me, “Aha! It appears that you have fallen prey to The Great Sandwich Conspiracy!” The checker and I both ignored him. The kid waited until I had completed my grocery transaction when he hit me again.

him: Do you realize you have fallen prey to the Great Sandwich conspiracy?

me: What on earth are you talking about?

him: I see you have purchased both Jif peanut butter and Smuckers jelly. Don’t you see? Jif and Smuckers are both owned by the same company. It’s a sandwich conspiracy!

me: That’s great kid, really, but have you ever noticed that Jif and Smuckers are the most prominently featured products in that aisle? It wouldn’t be too crazy to suggest that Safeway is in league with the makers of Jif and Smuckers…perhaps they are all owned by the same company!

him: Why Madame, if that’s true, I’ll eat my hat!

I swear, on…my…life, that he said that last line. Once he uttered that phrase that hasn’t been popular in, oh, the last 50 years or so, I knew he was going in the blog. It was an odd conversation to start with, but that kid was so weird…and I mean that in a good way. Talking to him, I felt like I had been transported back to a black and white movie from the 40’s…maybe a Superman movie where I played spunky lady reporter, Lois Lane and he played cub photographer Jimmy Olsen.

him: Miss Lane!  The boss is looking for you and is he ever sore!

me: No time Jimmy! I just got a hot tip from a snitch about a meeting between the Mayor and Jimmy the Finger. I’ve got to head over to the docks. Have you seen Clark?

him: No Miss Lane.

me: That’s too bad. He’s been trying to get a line on Jimmy the Finger for months and I might need a little backup.

him: Miss Lane, I know I’m green and wet behind the ears and all, but would you take me with you? I can get some real nice pictures for your story, and this could be my big break. Please give me a chance, Miss Lane!

me: Alright Jimmy, grab your coat and hat. You may not have much experience, but you’ve got a lot of what counts.

him: What’s that Miss Lane?

me: Moxy, Jimmy…and you’ve got it in spades!

So thanks kid. Thanks for turning a boring trip to the grocery store into a funny (to me anyway) anecdote. And you thought this was just about peanut butter.

Be sure to check back in three months for my next blog entry, My Summer Reading List, or Why I Love Sarah Vowell. Ok, just kidding (hopefully) about the three months thing. I’m going to try and do these more regularly from now on….really.

1 Response to "The College Years: The Great Sandwich Conspiracy"

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Hi, I'm Anna and I love cheese!

This blog is a chronicle of my life and a catalog of happy ephemera. The About page has a little bit more information, but, remember, none of this is really's just a supplement, a thumbnail sketch, a mostly anonymous Intarwebs placeholder. I'm way better/less wordy in person. :-)

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