NOTE: The is an opinion article trying to point at a potential warning sign, not a statement of fact about the Biden economy or a specific sandwich. Treat it as such.
A useful exercise in exploring the state of things economically is seeing what money saving or money spending move trendy online blogs and mainstream media figures are pushing.
During good times you see stories about money-shredding, overpriced restaurants like “gastropubs” and boutique BBQ places, story after story about high-priced cocktails, exotic ingredients and flavorings, and ridiculous guides on how to splurge. The more ridiculous and wasteful the story, the better you know things are in the economy.
But then, during times where things aren’t looking so great economically, you start seeing more stories about money-saving tips. At first it might just be the typical rants about avocado toast being wasteful and the typical articles on how much you can save from only eating at home. But as the economy approaches the ledge (or, perhaps more accurately, sentiment about the economy approaches the ledge) you see more stories about dramatic cost-saving foods.
Now, that’s obviously something of an exaggeration. Some people are always interested in saving money and others are looking for ways to splurge or seem hip and trendy. The vast internet marketplace will of course appeal to both of those sentiments. But, as a trend, one useful factor in gauging economic sentiment can be whether more people seem interested in spending or saving money, with the lengths to which they’re willing to go to do either being potentially indicative of the degree to which the crowd is leaning in that direction.
Klaus Schwab and co have been going on about the cost-saving and environmental benefits of eating the bugs for years now. Sentiment online has shifted more toward being responsible and cooking at home. And, perhaps most tellingly of all, now you’re seeing stories about Depression-era foods popping up.
Here’s one such story coming from “Atlas Obscura”. It covers the history and recipe for the peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich:
During the Great Depression, people valued high-calorie combinations of protein and fat. Meat and dairy were costly, and consuming enough energy could prove challenging. Enter peanut butter and mayonnaise on white bread. The combination became a staple in Southern households in the United States and, in some regions, it was as ubiquitous as peanut butter and jelly. For the next 30 years or so, the PB&M was a favorite in many American kitchens, perhaps because adding mayonnaise to the era’s rustic, coarse nut butter may have been key for spreadability. According to Garden & Gun, newspapers from the 1940s in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Troy, New York, both advised adding mayonnaise to “moisten” or “thin” peanut butter before adding bacon or shredded American cheese.
In the 1960s, Hellman’s Mayonnaise debuted an advertisement suggesting fun ways to spice up the basic peanut butter & mayo sandwich. To make a “Double Crunch,” one simply added bacon and pickles. A “Funny Face” called for raisins and carrots (and some degree of artistic capability). The “Apple Fandango” featured sliced apples and marmalade, while the “Crazy Combo”—you’ve been warned—included salami, sliced eggs, and onions.
Today, a seemingly limitless array of sandwich ingredients are affordable, but peanut butter and mayonnaise remain a beloved combination among the many Americans who grew up eating them. It also continues to maintain standing as one of the cheapest, highest-calorie pairings out there (one tablespoon of either condiment contains about 100 calories). But while famished people struggling through the Great Depression replenished themselves with the dense snack, for 21st-century Americans, the combo of the two, gooey spreads is more likely to inspire a midday nap.
Perhaps it’s just a coincidence. But a story about low-cost, high-calorie combinations probably wouldn’t be as popular or something people might be interested in were the economy looking like it’s about to boom…
Maybe Bidenomics aren’t to blame and people just want to eat peanut butter and mayonnaise. But, then again, maybe there’s more too it and the story was meant to be more helpful than novel in the coming months.
By: Gen Z Conservative