Why This Philly Teacher Made Nut Butter Her Thing

June 18, 2016

In partnership with the Triscuit Maker Fund and Indiegogo, we're spotlighting (and celebrating!) the stories of five on-the-rise, spirited food businesses across the U.S.

It's a Saturday when I pick up the phone to call Megan Gibson, founder of Philly's nut butter sandwich food truck PB & Jams, and we're both at our respective offices. But Megan, who's also been a high school physical education and health teacher for over 15 years, isn't sitting at a desk like myself—she's flitting about the production facility where she produces six kinds of nut butters.

Megan started PB & Jams on a whim about three years ago, at the dawn of the food truck scene in Philadelphia. (Her initial idea— PB & Jams as food truck—led her to making her own nut butters, which are sold around Philly.) She had been kicking around the idea of entering the mix for a while, considering a couple of options, until one chance encounter.

"I was visiting family in Brooklyn and tried Haitian peanut butter for the first time," Megan explains. (Her cousin's wife is Haitian.) She'd never tried a savory take on peanut butter, and it was a revelation, as well as a good reminder of all the different ways a simple ingredient like nut butter is used around the world: Fiery noodles! Creamy soups! Nutty salads! After her Brooklyn trip, Megan revisited one of her initial ideas of doing her own version of a classic sandwich PB&J.

And, it seemed, there was little else truer to her own history: Her grandfather is from the south—"peanut country" according to Megan—and her mother, in addition to be an excellent cook, has a little thing for nuts. "The joke is that I have a peanut tattoo on my wrist because she ate them by the handful while she was pregnant with me," Megan muses. So that was that—Megan started making peanut butter.

PB & J as food cart on left, and their super cute nut butter label on the right.

To Megan, what was missing in available nut butters was the mix of natural and flavorful without being overly sweet. As she was making the necessary prep for launching her food cart, Megan was perfecting her simple recipes for the nut butters she launched PB & Jams with: a classic peanut butter; spicy peanut butter (inspired by that Haitian peanut butter, remember?); roasted almond butter; and cashew butter. With encouragement from friends and family, she started selling them in stores and has since expanded the line to include a maple walnut butter and a chocolate almond butter. Next up? Taking Philly by storm with her food truck and peanut butter sandwiches, all while giving back to her community—creating jobs, donating peanut butter, and raising money for various organizations.

There's next to nuttin' in Megan's nut butter. Photo by James Ransom

And because I'm into snacks and prefer savory to sweet, I asked Megan to share her suggestions for some nut butter combos (who knows, maybe they'll even end up in one of her sandwiches). Watch below:

Cashew butter + carrot + cardamom

Almond butter + ricotta + maple + bourbon

Peanut butter + cayenne + cilantro + soy

And then I rounded up a few more of our own savory recipes beyond the sandwich where we use nut butter, right down here:

Have you ever tried Megan's nut butters? What are you pairing up with peanut butter when you're in need of a snack? Tell us in the comments below!

TRISCUIT supports makers and food business owners who take inspiration from simple ingredients. That's why they teamed up with Indiegogo to create the Triscuit Maker Fund, a special event supporting 55 food projects, big and small, in need of funding. See all of the projects here.

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