Peanuts. Just peanuts.

When I asked Paulette Wilkinson, West Dining Commons’ Manager, the ingredient list for the in-house peanut butter, all she offered was this one word: peanuts. 

Erin O'Neill

After discovering this peanut butter by chance freshman year, I would drag my roommate across campus just for West's peanut butter.

As a self-proclaimed peanut butter fanatic, this was by far the best brand my taste buds have ever devoured. This week, I set out to find out why the peanut butter in West dining hall just doesn't compare to the jar of JIF tucked underneath my twin bed.

I spoke more with Wilkinson and discovered that peanuts are grinded in the basement of the Waring Commons. Once finished, the peanut butter is offered at each all-you-can-eat meal as fresh, natural peanut butter for a sandwich center, toast topping or fruit spread. 

Erin O'Neill

The concept started about 5 years ago when the lower level Moxy convenience dining option in Waring Commons transitioned to Sisu, which aimed to offer more organic and healthier options for students.

One such option was a peanut butter and jelly bar. At this bar, students were able to create their own sandwich with the fresh peanut butter. Later the PB&J bar was removed, but the natural peanut butter was then offered during the all-you-can-eat meal times.
Tarika Narain

Today, you can find the peanut butter only in West Commons beside the deli bar with other condiments such as jelly and ketchup. They offer two varieties - a regular peanut butter and a honey roasted peanut butter. Even the honey roasted peanut butter variety is made from only honey roasted peanuts. No preservatives are added.

Grade 10 Food Service Preparer Rich Williams, says he makes about 25lbs. of each variety of peanut butter on Mondays and Wednesdays for the week.

Erin O'Neill
To put the nutrition in perspective, the Peter Pan creamy peanut butter brand is offered at most Penn State dining hall locations. Their ingredient list reads: “Roasted peanuts, sugar, less than 2% of: hydrogenated vegetable oils (cottonseed and rapeseed), salt, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil.”

Personally, I’d rather just have peanuts in my peanut butter…I’ll pass on the partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil. Peanut butter offers numerous health benefits, including being a great source of protein, monounsaturated fats (the heart-healthy fats) and potassium.

Izzi Clark

On Tuesday, November 1st, Penn State Dining Commons is celebrating National Peanut Butter Lover’s month with a PB&J bar offering their homemade peanut butter varieties at the West and North locations.

If you are bored with your basic PB&J, there are plenty of other options for this spread. 

My go-to peanut butter combos with ingredients in Penn State dining halls include: sliced apples + PB, banana + PB, apples dipped in a mix of Greek yogurt + honey + PB  (trust me on this one!), pretzels + PB, open-face bagel + PB, granola + milk + PB, a tortilla wrap with banana + honey + PB and last but certainly not least, 2 warm West cookies sandwiched with PB. 

Mulin Xiong

So congrats, West Dining Commons, for creating quite possibly the best peanut butter with literally one ingredient...more proof that the simple things in life are the best.