DVIDS – News – PEANUT BUTTER, JELLY & BREAD: For US troops, the PB&J sandwich may hark back to the WW1 “doughboys” who just wanted to stretch their rations

From DeCA Corporate Communications

NOTE: To view a DeCA video of this release, click https://vimeo.com/776314792/a3e1cf9350.

FORT LEE, Va. — Mention PB&J to an American soldier and many may remember making this “perfect” peanut butter and jelly sandwich to hit the spot when their stomachs needed a quick, tasty snack.

No one knows who invented the PB&J, but for US soldiers, this sandwich dates back at least to World War I, when enterprising troops combined elements of their rations to create a culinary masterpiece.

“Troops in the field have always been very resourceful when it came to making a tasty treat out of an otherwise boring ration,” said Marine Sgt. Maj. Michael R. Saucedo, senior adviser to the director of the Defense Commissary Agency. “Back at the garrison, soldiers and their families need only visit their commissary to find the peanut butter, jelly and bread they need for their showpiece – at a savings of at least 25 percent compared to commercial stores.”

So what’s the story behind peanut butter, jelly and bread in the US military? Well, let’s take the ingredients one by one, starting with bread.

No matter what kind of sandwich you like, the most important ingredient is good bread. Throughout history, one of the most common items given to US troops in their daily rations has been bread. Troops could expect a pound of flour or a loaf of baked bread. In fact, bread was such a common part of rations that branches of the military eventually opened their own baking schools and bakeries.

During the American Revolution, when there was no baked bread, troops made fire or cinder cakes by mixing flour from their rations, water, and a pinch of salt. Then they laid the dough over the warm ashes to bake. Sailors at sea were served ship biscuits, also known as hardtack. The weevils and maggots that often infested them were just an additional source of “protein”.

Hardtack was still standard for soldiers during the American Civil War, but the Union Army had bakeries that baked thousands of loaves of fresh bread each day, often shipped by train and arriving while it was still fresh and warm.

When America entered World War I, bakeries provided troops in the trenches with fresh, warm bread every day, and by World War II bread was included in C-rations and served in canteens.

During the Korean War, US soldiers were given food cans containing various types of bread and crackers. The B ration was known as the bread ration and contained a slice of bread, some crackers and usually a biscuit or piece of cake.

Now let’s talk about peanut butter. Every American eats more than 6 pounds of peanut butter every year. A peanut butter sandwich contains at least 6 grams of protein and over 3 grams of fiber. It is also rich in vitamin E and magnesium. Add jelly to the sandwich and you’ve got about 15 grams of carbs, which will give you plenty of energy.

Soldiers in both world wars, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, received a 1.5-ounce can of creamy peanut butter in their rations. Most cans were issued in B ration kits along with crackers and the dessert entree.

The trio of peanut butter, jelly, and bread seems to have clashed for soldiers during WWI. Many of them began taking the bread ration, peanut butter spread, and Concord grape jelly and adding them together to stretch their rations. During World War II, soldiers continued to make PB&J sandwiches from the ingredients in their B-ration kits. Meat shortages during the wars made the sandwiches an important source of protein.

Saucedo encouraged customers to use DeCA’s new mobile app to order their peanut butter, jelly, bread and more online through DeCA’s Commissary CLICK2GO online payment and pickup program. The app can be downloaded for free from the Google Play and IOS app stores for Android and Apple devices respectively.

“If your family loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches like mine does, then head to your local grocer for a wide variety of peanut butter and jelly, as well as different types of fresh bread,” Saucedo said. “We even have our own commissary store brands like Freedom’s Choice to save you even more money.”

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a global chain of commissioners that provide military members, retirees and their families with groceries in a safe shopping environment. Commissioners offer a military advantage and save authorized customers thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The reduced prices include a 5% surcharge to cover the cost of new construction and modernization of existing police stations. As a central element of military family support and a valuable part of military salaries and benefits, commissioners contribute to family preparedness, improve the quality of life for the American military and their families, and help recruit the best and brightest men and women for service and to hold country.

Date of recording: 06/12/2022
Release Date: 12.06.2022 12:20
Story ID: 434619
Location: US

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