Happy National Peanut Butter Day!
Peanuts are native to the tropics of the Americas and were mashed to become a pasty substance by the Aztec Native Americans hundreds of years ago. A number of peanut paste products have been used over the centuries, and the distinction between peanut paste and peanut butter is not always clear in ordinary use. Early forms of peanut butter, like the Aztecs' version, were nothing but pure roasted peanut paste. It may have been harder to work with and spread than regular peanut butter, less creamy and less sweet. Vegetable oil was also later added to most brands to aid in its spreadability, but with new modern processing machines being invented, the peanut butter was already significantly smoother than it had been.
Evidence of peanut butter as it is known today comes from U.S. Patent 306,727, issued in 1884 to Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, for the finished product of the process of milling roasted peanuts between heated surfaces until the peanuts entered "a fluid or semi-fluid state." As the peanut product cooled, it set into what Carter explained as being "a consistency like that of butter, lard, or ointment." Edson's patent is based on the preparation of a peanut paste as an intermediate to the production the modern product we know as peanut butter, it does show the initial steps necessary for the production of peanut butter. George Washington Carver is often credited with inventing peanut butter and is nearly synonymous with its history in the United States.