Kraft is introducing a new peanut butter to compete with Bega peanut butter, which due to some business stuff is now producing the original-recipe Kraft peanut butter. Peanut butter nutter Hayden Donnell smuggled some of the new spread into the country to test it ahead of its release here.
Kraft peanut butter was once the immovable rock at the centre of our culinary culture. It persisted for 92 years, through the rise and fall of fondue, chicken cranberry paninis, and cronuts: never oily, never dry, never changing.
Lately, though, that rock has been crumbling. Through a complicated series of business takeovers and acquisitions, the Kraft peanut butter recipe has landed in the hands of the Australian company Bega, which is now producing the spread under its own name with near-identical packaging. Kraft, freaking out at accidentally losing control of its most delicious spread, is suing Bega for intellectual property infringement. But it’s also doing something even more explosive and important for peanut butter connoisseurs: Kraft has begun producing a new, alternative Kraft peanut butter to compete with Bega (nee Kraft) peanut butter.
For a full explanation: WTF has happened to Kraft peanut butter?! Your questions answered
So far the new Kraft peanut butter is on sale only at select Australian supermarkets. No one in New Zealand has access. No one, that is, except me. Earlier this month, I contracted an undercover operative to smuggle two jars of the new Kraft peanut butter through New Zealand’s border security. This week, I put those spreads through a rigorous round of scientific testing in an effort the answer the one burning question – is the new Kraft peanut butter as good as the old Kraft peanut butter?
The first step in my experiment was perfectly toasting two slices of Vogel’s toast.
Hours later, I was ready to begin my taste tests. The slices of toast were cut in half. One half of each was spread with Bega (nee Kraft) peanut butter; the other with new Kraft.
The first hit of Bega was salty. Almost savoury compared to what was to come. Still not too oily; not too dry. The original Kraft recipe was still delivering the flavour-filled goods.
My first mouthful of Kraft was shocking. Apparently fearing a loss of market share, Kraft had injected its peanut butter vats with litre upon litre of delicious, addictive sugar. The spread had shed any lingering illusion of propriety. It was running wild through my arteries. New Kraft was the distilled taste of an oncoming heart attack, and it was a beautiful release. Endorphins flooded my brain, each one of them screaming “death and glory”.
But was I hallucinating these differences? Were they real or just a product of my fevered, peanut-crazed mind? I needed to remove one of my senses from the equation. Donning a blindfold, I began the process of centring my entire consciousness into my tastebuds.
When my meditation was complete, culinary umpire Leonie Hayden fed me the peanut butter brands in random order, first testing the smooth variations then the crunchies. The spreads were rated according to the international standard categories for peanut butter adjudication: flavour, texture, and nosefeel.
In a trance-like state, I made my notes.
After an intense period of concentration, I arrived at the most crucial part of my trial: guessing which spreads were Kraft and which were Bega. First category, smooth. I guessed Smooth PB1 was Bega and Smooth PB2 Kraft. Correct. Second category, crunchy. I guessed Crunchy PB1 was Kraft, and Crunchy PB2 Bega. Correct, and correct again.
Science had proven it: My tastebuds were telling the truth. The peanut butters were distinct, and the one I preferred – at least in that moment – was a huge surprise.
If it wanted to deliver its old customers an identical product, Kraft had failed. But it had done something just as good, something few of us manage despite our best efforts: at the age of 92, it had reinvented itself for the better.
The peanut butter king is still alive, but it has been moved down to an earldom with a large estate of arable land. Long live the new peanut butter king, new Kraft.
Verdict: Deadly but delicious
Good or bad: Good
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