Food Nation

The Fluffernutter Sandwich: What You Need to Know

In about a week's time, we'll have the opportunity to observe National Fluffernutter Day, which celebrates that gloriously sticky sandwich made from marshmallow cream and peanut butter. When I was a wee thing, my mom and I constantly battled over my preference for Flutternutters over the admittedly more healthful combo of peanut butter and banana (now there's a lunch that really sticks to the roof of your mouth). In my childhood mind, fruit had no place in sandwiches; bananas were for eating all by themselves or maybe, maybe sliced into cereal. Obviously I had to reconsider this rule the first time I tried a brie and apple sandwich.

For me, the fluffernutter is the epitome of a "junk" lunch or snack because all of its components (white bread, fluff, peanut butter) are heavy on the simple starches and light on nutritional value. Of course, you could in theory make your own "fluffernutter" with whole-wheat bread, homemade sugar-free marshmallow creme, and natural peanut butter sweetened with honey. But then, what's the point, really?

And while we're on the subject of ingredients, tradition calls for the marshmallow creme to be specifically Marshmallow Fluff, while the brand of peanut butter is left unspecified. This practice dates to an alleged inventor of the sandwich, Emma Curtis of Massachusetts. Her recipe, which she called the "Liberty Sandwich," was first published at the end of WWI, and in the 1960s the advertising agency Durkee-Mower coined the term "Fluffernutter" in order to make the concoction seem more fun and appealing to the American public.

Legal nerds will appreciate the fact that in 2006 Durkee-Mower sued Williams-Sonoma for trademark infringement after the gourmet food retailer described one of its candies as "fluffernutter." My favorite quote from coverage of this suit is from agency president Donald Durkee, who stated emphatically, "Williams-Sonoma has no right to trade on our hard-earned reputation with their so-called Fluffernutter confection."

You tell 'em, Donald. Much blood, sweat and tears, I'm sure, went into the design of that sandwich.

So, on October 8, National Fluffernutter Day, I encourage you to revisit childhood by enjoying a Fluffernutter or variation thereof (almost butter, anyone?) Just don't try to sell your own fluffernutter online or you'll be eating a "cease and desist" order for dessert.

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Joanna O'Leary