Peanuts are native to the tropics of the Americas and probably originated in Brazil or Peru. By the time the Spanish began their exploration of the New World in the 15th century, peanuts were grown as far north as Mexico. Spanish explorers brought peanuts to Europe upon their return, and other traders eventually brought them to Asia and Africa.

But who first thought of mashing them up into a pasty, tasty treat? Researchers believe the ancient Aztecs mashed peanuts into a paste hundreds of years ago. Modern peanut butter didn’t come about until the 1890s, though.

In 1890, Dr. Ambrose Straub, a St. Louis doctor, asked George A. Bayle Jr., the owner of a food products company, to process ground peanut paste as a protein substitute for toothless people who couldn’t chew meat.

In 1897, J.H. Kellogg, who later became famous for his breakfast cereals, obtained U.S. Patent 580,787 for a “Process of Preparing Nutmeal,” which produced a “pasty adhesive substance” that he called “nut-butter.”

A few years later, peanut butter was first sold as a snack food in 1904 at the Universal Exposition in St. Louis by C.H. Sumner. Today, peanut butter is made mainly from ground dry-roasted peanuts. It comes in many varieties: creamy, chunky, natural and even flavored with honey!

So just how many peanuts does it take to make a jar of peanut butter? Quite a few!

The National Peanut Board estimates it takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter. That’s approximately 45 peanuts per ounce of peanut butter.

If your family buys peanut butter in those large 40-ounce mega-jars, each one of those jars takes a whopping 1,800 peanuts to make!

March is not just National Peanut Month. It’s also National Nutrition Month, which makes it the perfect time to recognize how nutritious peanuts are.

Peanuts are a good source of protein, vitamin E, niacin and magnesium. Peanuts are also naturally cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat. Peanut butter may also protect against cardiovascular disease due to high levels of monounsaturated fats.

Fun peanut facts:

  • Peanuts aren’t really nuts! They’re technically classified as legumes, like beans, peas and lentils.
  • Georgia produces more peanuts than any other state.
  • Two peanut farmers have been elected president of the United States: Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter.
  • Americans eat approximately three pounds of peanut butter per person each year, or a total of about 500 million pounds. That’s enough to cover the floor of the Grand Canyon!
  • Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of peanut butter getting stuck to the roof of your mouth.
  • The world’s largest peanut butter and jelly sandwich was created in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on September 7, 2002. It weighed nearly 900 pounds and contained 350 pounds of peanut butter and 144 pounds of jelly.


18 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (8 votes, avg. 4.50 out of 5)
    • We like to WONDER about interesting things like this all the time, Lily M/C, don’t you? Thanks so much for your comment! :-)

  1. Hi, I am McKenna from Mrs. Caplin’s class. This wonder was so interesting! Some of the things I learned were that Jimmy Carter and Thomas Jefferson were peanut farmers, and peanuts aren’t really nuts, they are considered legumes. Lastly, I have one question. Since J.H. Kellogg called it nut-butter, did he mash up any other nuts to make a pasty treat?

    • That’s a great questions, McKenna! We will have to do some more WONDERing about that one! We’re glad you learned some new things from this Wonder of the Day® about peanuts. Thank you for sharing your comment with us and letting us know that you liked this Wonder! :-)

    • We agree, Hannah! They sure are yummy! In fact, we think we might go make ourselves a peanut butter sandwich right now! :-)

    • We’re glad you can enjoy peanuts, too, Kianna! It’s good to know that your mom has an allergy so she doesn’t upset her stomach! We are glad you’re WONDERing with us today… it’s interesting that your tastebuds enjoy peanuts when they are in your food, but not alone. We Wonder why that is… :)

    • We’re glad you gave it a try, Paris! Thanks for sharing your comment today– sometimes our tastebuds react to certain foods in different ways! :)

  2. Well I think maybe 60 or 50. I am 9 yrs old and I guessed. You probably expected a 23 or 89 years-old to answer. Everybody should be able to do it.

    • Good guess, Kianna! We are so glad you’re here, WONDERing with us! We have Wonder Friends of all ages and we’re very proud of your SUPER guess! We invite everyone to have fun at Wonderopolis– people from ages 0 to 199 have great imaginations that are perfect for WONDERing! :)

    • WOW, thanks for sharing that fun fact with us, Paris! We were just WONDERing Kianna about different types of foods that contain peanuts… you like peanuts but not peanut butter! We Wonder why that is… :)

  3. Disappointed not to see George (Washington) Carver mentioned in the facts. This amazing man came up with over 400 uses for the peanut in the early 1900s.

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Have you ever wondered…

  • How many peanuts are in a jar of peanut butter?
  • Who invented peanut butter?
  • Is peanut butter good for you?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

Do you love peanut butter? There are plenty of fun activities you can do to celebrate National Peanut Month.

If you are going to throw the perfect peanut party, you’ll need some energy. What better way to fuel your body than with peanut power? Try out some of these fun recipes:

Every peanut party needs music. But what kind? Pop? Perfect! Use peanuts, dried beans and rice to make a fun musical toy out of a peanut butter jar!

After you’re finished eating and dancing, pay a visit to Buddy McNutty, the National Peanut Board’s “spokes-nut.” You’ll find even more fun games, recipes and crafts to enjoy together as a family!


Still Wondering

Would you believe the tiny peanut played a huge role in changing the economy of the South? Visit EconEdLink’s Peanuts, Pecans, and Peas, Please lesson to learn more about how the peanut kept Southern cotton farmers from losing it all.


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Next to PB&J sandwiches, there’s nothing better than a steaming hot plate of green eggs and ham. Tomorrow’s wonder is a recipe for rhyme!

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