Why Southerners Love This New England Sandwich Staple

It may not have originated in the South, but there's something we can't deny about this sweet sandwich.

two halves of a fluffernutter sandwich on a white plate
Photo: Emily Laurae/Southern Living

Say the word "fluffernutter" and depending on where a person was raised, the name could make someone swwon with fond childhood memories, or leave them scratching their head at what you might be talking about.

The fluffernutter, also known as a peanut butter and marshmallow crème sandwich, has been a staple in New England lunchboxes and brown paper bags for decades, and it is still loved by kids of all ages.

The classic recipe for a fluffernutter consists of white sandwich bread, spreadable marshmallow crème, and creamy peanut butter. While it might sound like an unusual concoction to combine peanut butter with marshmallow crème between two slices of white bread, how many sandwiches do you know of that have a national holiday (October 8), its own jingle, and a distinct name that was officially added to Merriam-Webster's dictionary in 2021?

This simple sandwich has a rich history and a dedicated fanbase, and if you haven't heard of the sandwich yet, it is time to learn more and experience this sandwich for yourself.

History of the Fluffernutter

The origin of the sandwich dates to the early 20th century, after the creation of a spreadable marshmallow crème in Massachusetts. The earliest example of the sandwich was created by Emma Curtis in 1918 during World War I. She published the recipe on pamphlets and named the combination of peanut butter and marshmallow crème between two pieces of oat or barley bread a "Liberty Sandwich." This unique sandwich was created during a time when the government was encouraging citizens to consume less wheat and meat in the midst of the war.

Over the following decades, the fluffernutter maintained its popularity and appeal. The distinct name of fluffernutter came much later in the 1960s when an advertising agency created the term to help market the sandwich—they combined the word "fluffer" from Marshmallow Fluff, a specific brand of marshmallow crème, and "nutter," which is adapted from peanut butter.

This sandwich is still extremely popular today with New Englanders who wear the sandwich's origin with pride. The fluffernutter has also become synonymous with desserts featuring peanut butter and marshmallow as their main ingredients.

Popular spins of the flavor combinations have been adapted into cakes, cookies, milkshakes, and pies. The popularity of the combination of salty peanut butter and sweet marshmallow crème has extended across the country—and has found its way into the South.

Why Southerners Love This Sandwich

Southerners don't shy away from a unique blend of sandwich ingredients. Although the fluffernutter doesn't originate in the South, this tasty, quick-to-assemble sandwich joins the ranks of foods that instantly trigger nostalgia and fond food memories.

Additionally, Southern recipes have an appreciation for peanut butter and sweet combinations and have many iconic examples of combining a sweet taste with salty and savory flavors. This sandwich feeds the craving for a balance of salty and sweet and is also one of the most straightforward recipes to create.

If you haven't had the opportunity to try this sandwich for yourself, experience the joy from the recipe below and consider the variations to take your fluffernutter to the next level.

Get the Recipe: Fluffernutter

Fluffernutter Variations

After you have tried the classic sandwich, consider these exciting alternatives:

  • using chunky peanut butter instead of creamy peanut butter for extra texture
  • using a skillet or grill to heat the sandwich, making the peanut butter and marshmallow warm and gooey
  • toasting the bread before assembling
  • adding sliced bananas
  • adding a fruit jam or preserve
  • using almond, cashew, or sunflower butter instead of peanut butter
  • using Nutella or chocolate spread instead of peanut butter
  • adding crispy bacon for a savory element
  • adding potato chips for a salty crunch
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