I had the very unusual thought / question cross my mind. When was the first time I ate peanut butter like that? How did it start?
Well, I didn't come up with the very first time, BUT it did take me back to some interesting food memories.
My last paddling.
My father was a believer in "spare the rod, spoil the child". When we were smaller, he used a wooden spoon. But they weren't quite durable enough and at some point (after I was 12, because the step-mother was around), he brought home a small board -- 1x2x12 and cut/carved a handle and painted it dark brown.
Some years later, I think I was 15 or 16, came the day of my last paddling. I was sitting in the living room watching TV. I had the peanut butter jar and a spoon. My father's voice came from the kitchen "Has anyone seen the peanut butter?"
Promptly I hid the jar off to the side of the couch, gave a quick wipe to my lips, and continued watching TV. Why? I don't remember it being thought of as wrong, exactly, but there were all sorts of food rules, so I don't really know. I just had the idea it would be better to sneak it back into the cupboard later rather than say directly that I had it.
He poked his head around into the dining area from which the living room could be seen and asked each of us kids he spotted if we knew where it was.
And here's what I really got in trouble for. I looked him dead in the eye and answered in the negative ... and did it well enough he believed me. When he found out later, he was livid. Not over the peanut butter. That meant nothing. I had lied. Not just lied, but lied to his face about something so petty.
So I got paddled.
And learned my lesson. Hide the evidence better, dummie.
Yes, that really and truly was what went through my head in that moment. And I did. I learned to lie to him so well he never caught me out in another.
Looking back on that time, I realize there were a number of weird food habits. None of this had to do with weight. I was skinny to average.
The step-mother came into a family of 5 kids, my father not being particularly nutrition-minded, and tried to make huge changes all at once. (My mother used to joke that he would buy two bags of cookies rather than a can of tuna to feed us because it was cheaper. How much of that was divorced spouse talking and how much was literal, I don't know. I do know we had lots of bags of cookies around the house pre-step-mother.)
At varying points milk was replaced with some sort of soy powder mixed with water, cheese with soy cheese, chocolate chips with carob chips, sugar with fructose and brown sugar and honey (considered healthier at the time), and so on. We had vitamin containers with handfuls of pills to make up for all our nutritional lacks.
One thing I remember doing at one point was being hungry for something sweet, something not in her style of nutritious. I went into the kitchen and somehow decided to roll a chunk of margarine in the oats and then in the brown sugar. It was all done quite sneakily, knowing it wasn't "acceptable" behavior.
Another thing was the jar of carob chips, meant to be used for making cookies. Sometimes I would make cookies just to eat batter and extra chips. Other times I snuck into the kitchen late at night and poured a handful of chips to eat. It got to the point that the step-mother stuck a piece of paper in the jar warning that she could tell they were being eaten. I learned to tilt the jar so it looked like the same amount unless someone took it down from the top shelf and to make cookies so it naturally was lower before that trick was spotted. At some point I even quit caring and just left her little note there with less carob chips under it.
I also started stealing money from my father's room -- both to take the public bus to school rather than the school bus and to buy lunch at school, finally getting the milk I missed that way. Thankfully, I started working at 15 and continued through graduation, so that stopped.
And, of course, there's the speed of eating. With 6 children and 2 adults, and sometimes limited amounts of seconds of foods that we actually liked, it was often a race to finish our firsts to make sure we got plenty of seconds. Later it was a race to clean the plate so we could escape the mandatory "family time" of dinner. With the most gag-worthy foods (most of her boiled past death veggies, particularly okra and brussels sprouts), if we couldn't sneak them off the plate into cup or napkin, gulping them whole sometimes worked.
So many odd food behaviors learned in that house.
Anyway, I am still wondering when it was that I first learned to spoon peanut butter directly. I mean, sure, lick the knife when I'm done -- but that would be washed. No fingers because they weren't clean. My mother's peanut butter wouldn't have been a likely target because she got it from the health food store grinding machine and it had to be stirred before each use. I'm the oldest child, with the next 2.5 years younger, so I doubt I learned it from them. I can't remember any adult around me eating it that way. It's really odd.
At my best guess, the whole "no fingers" combined with having a spoon accessible or no clean butter knife led to that first scoop.
As an aside, here's what I find truly amusing / strange about this. I love ice cream. Yet in spite of the way I can eat peanut butter, I cannot remember ever eating straight from the carton unless there was less than a serving left. All those TV shows with someone scooping direct from the pint and several pints around them make me shrug and shake my head. (Replace them with peanut butter jars, though ... well, no. I don't think I could eat an entire jar in one sitting. It usually takes me at least four mindless munching moments over a few days.)
Unfortunately ... my spoon kept digging into that peanut butter as my mind wandered down memory lane. I'm going to have fun fitting the rest of my nutrition into the day.