As I scanned the cartoon “Peanuts” in yesterday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune, I remembered reading it for the first time more than forty years ago.
“Peanuts” has been in reruns since the passing of its creator, Charles Schulz, in 2000, and this particular strip ran sometime in the mid-1960s, I’d guess. I’m not exactly sure when, but I do recall reading it. Why? Because I’d never before come across the word “jelly-bread.”
To me, the word “bread” in there was superfluous. If you want jelly between two slices of bread, you want a jelly sandwich. I recall puzzling over the odd construction for a moment or two, and then either moved to the next comic on the newspaper page or turned the page in my Peanuts paperback book – I had several of them when I was in junior high school – and thought no more about it.
The next time I heard the word “jelly-bread” was about thirty-five years later. It’s the word the Texas Gal uses to describe a jelly sandwich: Either two slices of bread with jelly between them or one slice of bread spread with jelly and folded over. And I hear the word fairly often.
As I’ve mentioned before, we both use the sleep aid Ambien, and generally, the Texas Gal retires before I do, reading or playing games on her Nook in the bedroom upstairs as she gets sleepy while I’m puttering with mp3s or something else in my study downstairs. And frequently, she’ll want a snack, so she’ll call downstairs and ask me to get one for her. (I don’t mind; in fact, once the Ambien has started to make her drowsy, I’d prefer she ask me for help than for her to come down the stairs on her own.)
And one of her frequent snack requests is a jelly-bread.
I’m not sure if “jelly-bread” (or perhaps “jellybread”) is a regionalism. I suppose it could be. Charles Schulz was a Midwesterner, from St. Paul, but who knows where he got the word. It might be an older form, something that was widely used but has faded away, like “dungarees” for blue jeans.
I Googled the term, planning to check an online dictionary or two, but got lost in links leading to pages about two bands, one called Jelly Bread, the other Jellybread. I found some recipes for a baked loaf of bread that contains both peanut butter and jelly. At Yummly, a different recipe site, I found a listing for “Jelly Bread Sandwich Recipes.”
I finally stopped by the website of the Dictionary of American Regional English (a project of the University of Wisconsin in Madison), and, if I’m reading it correctly, the preview available to me lists “jellybread” as arising among German immigrants in Pennsylvania by “analogy with [German] Butterbrot [meaning] bread and butter.”
No doubt that’s accurate, but it doesn’t explain how the term came to Schulz or to the Texas Gal. “It could just be a family thing,” she said this morning. That’s true. And it’s not really important, but I have a hunch I’ll occasionally be digging around online for “jelly-bread.”
As to music, I found a perfectly titled tune on the mp3 shelves this morning. Orange Bicycle was a late 1960s British psychedelic band that arose out of the early 1960s band Robb Storm & The Whispers and the later Robb Storm Group. The group’s only album as Orange Bicycle was a self-titled 1970 effort, and that album’s seventh track, “Jelly on the Bread,” is today’s Saturday Single.
Tags: Orange Bicycle