Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

October 22, 2011

Who would have thunk, the magic of peanut butter?

If you are what you eat, I guess I was about 50 percent peanut butter as kid. Mom made great dinners for our family of 10, but I had peanut butter for breakfast and peanut butter at bedtime. We rarely ran out.

I didn’t have to have jelly. Heck, sometimes I had a peanut butter sandwich without bread — right out of the jar. (Don’t tell my sisters. Girls never did that.)

When I got married 35 years ago, I made two rules for my bride: Don’t run out of Peter Pan peanut butter and don’t talk to me on third down. She asked, “What’s a down?” Sometime I’ll miss a third-down play, but we’ve always had peanut butter.

 I had peanut butter for breakfast Saturday morning, but generally I’ve cut back. I’m no longer picky about the brand, but maybe I’m still 5 percent the product of Goober Peas.

When I used to go on the road, I was always anxious to hit the cupboard for a peanut butter sandwich when I got home. Life without peanut butter would be ... I don’t know. I’ve never lived life without peanut butter.

Aging folks get older on peanut butter. In 1880, a St. Louis physician crushed peanuts into a spread for his geriatric patients with bad teeth. Nowadays, that works for me.

I also heard that peanut butter is good for your disposition. But then, I was talking to myself.

Last year, after Operation Christmas Drop, some good people of Eastern Niagara County wondered what cool things they could do next. They were psyched up after doing something nice and wanted to continue.

“One of the ladies piped up that there was a shortage of peanut butter,” said New York State Courts Sgt. Pete Robinson.

It was Wendy Roberson, a deputy county clerk. She heard on the radio that food pantries were running low on the staple. Robinson, et al, took the cue, and soon there was a “Peanut Butter & Jelly Drive.” He thought he might pick up 50 jars to take around locally, but got 50 jars in the courthouse, alone. The goal then became 500 jars. By the end of the drive, volunteers collected 1,500 jars the first year.

“Everything clicked,” he said. “It metamorphosed into something ... Who would have thunk?”

Judge Matt Murphy suggested that Robinson keep it simple, and it is. People automatically understand peanut butter and jelly. It’s a natural.

Year two got under way at the County Courthouse on Tuesday. Robinson showed up with two dozen volunteers and spoke to the legislators. He was surprised when the lawmakers delivered six dozen jars — 24 creamy, 12 crunchy, 24 grape jellies and 12 strawberry jams — for the cause.

The second annual Peanut Butter & Jelly (and Fluff) Drive goes from Nov. 1 to Dec. 3, and there are several places the jars can be dropped off, with some are still being added. Donors can go directly to a food pantry.

“This year, we’re a little wiser,” Robinson said. “The need goes beyond Christmas. The problem is, when January comes around, people run out of money and end up at the food pantry. That’s when families need it the most. There’s people in the community who are poor.”

The grassroots group is hoping to continue the program through the winter months here. Towns from Florida to the Adirondacks are catching on. Even big city Atlanta likes the idea.

The Peanut Butter & Jelly Drive has added music jams to the program. That is, local bars from West Seneca to Lyndonville put on a nominal cover charge to hear their bands — a jar of peanut butter.

It’s not creamed corn or the vegetable of your choice. “It’s easy. It makes sense to them,” Robinson said. “We don’t want money, only peanut butter, jelly and fluff. For less than $2, it will go to a kid that needs it.”

Robinson, the big man known as the singer of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” loves peanut butter, so it goes without saying, it’s also very good for your voice.

Contact reporter Bill Wolcott

at 439-9222, ext. 6246.

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