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White or wheat? Best peanut butter-to-jelly ratio? This is how you make the perfect PB&J sandwich, according to experts

Peanut butter and jelly, the lunchtime classic, doesn’t have to be boring. 

We asked experts last month at USA TODAY how healthy a peanut butter and jelly could be. And when the answer came back that it could be a surprisingly good nutritional pick, we turned to the experts for the next big question: How to make it delicious.

The Food Network’s ‘Sandwich King’ host Jeff Mauro (who is also the host of the podcast Come on over: The number one siblings podcast) said in an email that the key was in an additional ingredient: potato chips.

According to the 'Sandwich King'

“Trust me when I say this, but the greatest addition to a PB&J is a nice layer of BBQ Kettle Chips,” said Mauro. “They add crunch and a slightly savory and smoky sweet flavor that completes the party. I cannot eat a pb and j any other way.”

Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Crunchy. 

Crust or no crust? Full crust. 

Peanut butter to jelly ratio? “65/35 – 65% PB 35% [jelly],” he wrote. “ Nobody wants a jelly-soaked slice of bread that (you know, like the one in your brown bag lunch, with the apple indentation) when upon first bite, that jelly goes shooting out all over your nice button down or blouse. Keep your ratios in check and ALWAYS, ALWAYS remember when schmearing, ‘crust to crust, is a must.’”

Peanut butter jelly time: How healthy is the American classic? Experts weigh in

And as for toasted or not? Definitely not – unless the bread is going stale.

“Nothing beats fresh, pillowy soft white bread. The kind that sticks to the roof of your mouth in the most fabulous way,” he said. “Why would you want to deny yourself that experience by toasting it and taking all the life out of it!? Never toasted, unless of course, that bread is past its prime, then I recommend a one-sided butter and griddle on a flat pan.”

Of course, while Mauro may be crowned the sandwich expert by the Food Network, experts across the field have had different opinions.

According to the founder of a PB&J sandwich shop

Payvand Salehi, 37, one of the founders of the Los Angeles restaurant PBJ.LA, a peanut butter and jelly themed sandwich shop, said that in his four years in the business he'd learned that proportions of peanut butter and jelly was the thing that could really make or break a sandwich. 

"The majority of times we've had not so flattering reviews was we had either too much peanut butter or too much jelly or not enough of either," he said. "Proportions are very important because every bite you have has to be consistent. You don't want to take a first initial bite and have it all peanut butter, barely any jelly because 97 percent of people have peanut butter and jelly in their cupboard so everybody has a strict opinion of what they think peanut butter and jelly should be so the subtle nuisances like proportions is very important."

At PBJ.LA, the options for the butter and the jelly go far beyond the traditional Skippy and grape. There's an Indian sandwich with curried cashew butter and mango chutney, an Italian with toasted pine nut butter with sage and basil cherry tomato jam and many more options that expand what many Americans think of when thinking of peanut butter and jelly. 

"It's really just thinking how you can make peanut butter and jelly into a lunch item rather than just a snack or a dessert," he said.

But as non-traditional as the restaurant will go on sandwiches, there is only one type of bread that the restaurant serves.

"A good peanut butter and jelly comes with the fluffiest of white breads and we stand by that," said Salehi. "Just really chewy fluffy white bread."

And this seems like a consensus among the experts and those who just are particular about their peanut butter and jelly (which honestly aren't we all?).

According to professional athletes

In a 2017 article, an award-winning ESPN article looked into the consumption of peanut butter and jelly as a go-to pregame meal for NBA players and learned a lot about the preferences of the world's best basketball players.

The preferences varied, but were unified over the dislike of wheat bread: Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers went for toasted bread, white bread (approved by the team physician) and organic peanut butter and jelly. The Wizards, according to ESPN, tried to institute wheat bread in their peanut butter and jelly, which was met by a “minor uprising” from the team so they also at least at the time reverted back to white bread.

As seen on the Rachel Ray Show

In a segment on the Rachael Ray Show, a sizzle was shown of a number of Food Network experts giving their best take on the peanut butter and jelly after the debate on how to make a perfect one took over Ray's staff, according to the host. The TV host Clinton Kelly started his part of the sizzle video with two slices of wheat bread.

"First," he said, "you take your whole wheat bread and you throw it out the window."

But while there are an infinite amount of ways to make a peanut butter and jelly, Ray, who made hers with seasonal fruit jelly and Skippy peanut butter, seemed to grasp the thing that actually made it perfect: It was made just the way she liked it.

"Do you know," she said, "I cook for a living and I am drooling so much over the smell of this peanut butter and jelly that it is kind of ridiculous."

Follow @NinaMandell on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What's the best way to make a peanut butter and jelly?

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