Investigating Food in Film: Peanut Butter and Oreos in The Parent Trap

It's little surprise many famous movie scenes involve food; there's a certain pleasure in watching characters eat the foods we enjoy in real life or grapple with the familiar challenges of cooking, say, lobsters. But have you ever been watching a film and someone mentions a food you've never heard of? Or there's a dining scene and you can't pay attention to the dialogue because you're too distracted wondering what the heck they're eating? This series is devoted to answering those questions.

Oh, Lindsay Lohan. I still harbor hope you will reform your life and sufficiently distance yourself from your cray-cray parents and trainwreck of an entourage. Why do I even care? Because more than ten years after seeing The Parent Trap, I still can't get over how good you were in that movie.

Your performances (plural, really, since you played both twins) isn't the only thing that endeared the 1998 version of The Parent Trap to me. This movie also introduced me to one of my favorite late-night, no-holds-barred snack indulgences: oreos with peanut butter.

When separated-at-birth twins Hallie Parker and Annie James are forced to room together in an isolated cabin as punishment for torturing each other with practical jokes, they discover, among other similarities, that they both really enjoy eating oreos with peanut butter. Apparently, the fact that they have identical phenotypes wasn't enough to convince them they might, um, be related; this discovery of the shared PB and oreos preference is, however, enough to seal the deal.

I didn't try adorning oreos with a schmear of peanut butter immediately after I saw the movie, for soon after Nabsico launched their peanut-butter-flavored oreos and I think I just assumed if I was really craving peanut butter and chocolate sandwich cookies, I would just buy those. Not terribly surprising, I eventually learned, peanut butter oreos are far less satisfying than oreos with a hefty glob of peanut butter. The infusion of a strong nut flavor into oreo cream is satisfying, but the truly superior taste experiences comes from the juxtaposition of sugary vanilla icing and peanut butter as well as the textural striation that occurs via the vertical stacking of soft filling, crunchy chocolate cookie, and sticky thick nut butter. Some ingredients do better residing side-by-side in a dish rather than in immersed collaboration: such is the case of peanut butter and oreo cookies.

It's such a simple and straightforward combination that sometimes I wonder why I didn't stumble upon it earlier, especially during some drunk-hungry forays freshman year in college. In any event, I am grateful to The Parent Trap, for introducing me to this terrific snack and I guess, to Lindsay Lohan for so wonderfully portraying the pleasure derived from this pairing.

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Joanna O'Leary