I’ve said it before: I love it when my two loves – food and art – come together. So naturally I was excited when Peanut Butter & Co. announced The Nutropolitan Museum of Art, also known as, “the world’s first pb&j art exhibition”.
Unfortunately I missed the opening night party, but was lucky enough to sneak in a visit on my way out of town. And I’m so happy that I did because the show was pretty deliciously awesome. Never having been to a food-focused art show, I didn’t really know what to expect. Lee Zalben of PB & Co collaborated with The National Peanut Board, food photographer Theresa Raffetto, food stylist Patty White and artisan bread-maker Keith Cohen to create adorably funny and unique interpretations of the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
In the same way that I enjoyed the kitsch of dining on peanut butter sandwiches at PB & Co this past Valentine’s Day, I similarly enjoyed the irony of attending an art gallery in one of New York City’s trendy hoods to gaze upon peanut butter-inspired art. But it all made sense as soon as I walked through the doors; this was no thrown-together show. Every piece was carefully considered and wonderfully executed. Aside from looking delicious, each creation was fun and conceptually interesting. Lots of them had punny names, ironic concepts and complementary props. Each piece made you think about your food and contemplate ways to get creative with peanut butter.
If you thought that Elvis was wonderfully crazy for putting peanut butter and bananas together, you’d love the fun concoctions they came up with. It was hard to pick a favorite, but this photo of silver dollar pancakes slathered with honey and honey-flavored peanut butter titled, “Money Honey” is a definite addition to my “to eat” list. With food that looks this good, I’d feel the urge to hurl dollar bills at it as well!
If only stars really were made of peanut butter and starfruit sandwiches, maybe I would have paid better attention in science class. Yum!
One piece was more delicious and humorous than the next.
Cool food art aside, the show had a lot of socially-conscious motives:
- It raised awareness of food poverty and what you can do to help alleviate it. Visit foodbanknyc.org for more info. For every person that attended the show, PB & Co donated one jar of their peanut butter to the Food Bank for New York City.
- It got you to think about the many dietary benefits of peanut butter. Check out The National Peanut Board for more info.
- It showed how versatile peanut butter can be. For fun recipes, check out PB & Co’s All-Star Recipe Blog and Lee Zalben’s posts on Serious Eats. Lee came up with a whopping 365 spinoffs of the PB&J – one for every day of the year! How many can you come up with?
- It improved your stash by giving you a free jar of wicked delicious pb. If you made it to the opening night party, you received a bag of all sorts of goodies, which you can check out on Veggie Couture’s recount.
Despite missing the opening night party, I did finally get to meet Lee (who generously shared an extra swag bag with me – yes!) and acknowledged how crazy it was that two kindred peanut butter spirits hadn’t previously met. Better late than never, right? As a long-time fan of his brand, it was awesome to meet him and talk peanut butter.
In the snapshot below, his picture is first from the left and is accompanied by those of the other contributors. To the right of their photos, you can see a cluster of stickers that represented how many jars of peanut butter were being donated to the NYC Food Bank. I visited the 4-day show on the 2nd day and you could see, the wall was already pretty well-covered.
After attending this show I feel even more enthusiastic about peanut butter (did you think that was even possible?). It’s a delicious, nutritious, accessible and affordable staple that brings out the kid in you. I hope that this show has inspired others to realize its potential and get creative with it. If you weren’t able to make it to the show, you can read more about it and view some of the photos on Serious Eats. You can also help the cause by visiting The Food Bank for New York City to make a donation.