By Kristin van Ogtrop
Updated January 21, 2015
Two spoons with peanut butter
| Credit: Sang An

From the Pantry Head-Scratchers Department:

For much of my life, my mother made me suffer through all-natural peanut butter. On apples, on celery, on toast, on sandwiches, you name it. It was “healthier,” “better for you,” “had no preservatives.” Of course, according to younger me, it was also “a giant pain,” “impossible to stir,” “too hard to spread half the time,” and “too weird to serve my friends.” But my mother was undeterred. A registered dietician, she was the first to embrace certain nutritional fads that now look quite sensible and downright mainstream. Such as all-natural peanut butter.

Now that I am a somewhat enlightened adult, I inflict all-natural peanut butter on my own kids, and for all the same reasons. Except over the weekend I was faced with a challenge when I opened a new jar of Crazy Richard’s peanut butter (favorite brand of my mother since, oh, 1975; I can’t believe Richard is still making the stuff). I went through the familiar routine: I stirred it for about two hours; spread it on an English muffin; wiped the spilled oil off the counter; replaced the lid; and looked for the prominent REFRIGERATE AFTER OPENING on the label.

Except it wasn’t there! I turned to my husband. “Do you see anything on this label about refrigerating this?” He couldn’t find it either. Seizing this potentially life-changing opportunity (truly spreadable peanut butter whenever I want it!), I put the jar back in my warm, unrefrigerated pantry. But now I wonder: Is this going to kill me? Is there any law regulating “refrigerate after opening” that would allow my survivors to sue Crazy Richard’s if I die from the room-temperature peanut butter? Or is there no such law, and perhaps Crazy Richard’s simply could not fit the words on the label? Does Crazy Richard’s think that anyone with an IQ above 15 just knows by now that natural peanut butter needs to be refrigerated?

Do you think there is an actual “Richard” who I can call?