National Peanut Brittle Day
annually on January 26th
Peanut brittle consists of broken and hard sugar candy pieces embedded with peanuts, and today is dedicated to it. There are other types of brittle in the United States, such as pecan and almond, but peanut brittle is the most popular. Many variations are found around the world as well, where other types of nuts and seeds are used. Peanut brittle is traditionally made by heating sugar and water, sometimes along with salt and corn syrup, to the hard crack stage—about 300 degrees fahrenheit. Peanuts are then mixed with the caramelized sugar, and spices, leavening agents such as baking soda, and sometimes butter or peanut butter are added. The mix is poured onto a flat surface, and broken into pieces after it cools.
Peanut brittle first appeared in print in 1892, but variations of the candy have been around longer than that. Its creation may have been inspired by halva, an Arabic confection that first appeared in the Middle Ages, which includes honey, nuts, and seeds in its ingredients. One account claims it started as a Celtic dessert that was brought to the United States by Irish immigrants. But, by most accounts it was created in the United States, most likely in the South, where the growing of peanuts is plentiful. One story says a Southern woman created it by mistake, in 1890, when making taffy. She accidentally added baking soda instead of cream of tartar to the recipe, but didn't want to waste it, so she kept cooking and added some peanuts; she ended up with a crunchy brittle instead of a chewy taffy. Another story, a little more far fetched, claims that it was created by folk hero Tony Beaver, who was reputedly the cousin of Paul Bunyan. By this account, Beaver saved a town from a flood by pouring molasses and peanuts into a river. Regardless of who first made it, once the first piece is eaten, it is hard to stop. Thankfully, today it can be eaten all day.
How to Observe National Peanut Brittle Day
Celebrate the day by eating peanut brittle. You could buy some at the store, but wouldn't it be more fun to make your own, and to imagine you are coming up with the recipe for the first time?