Peanut Butter in Japan

February 16th, 2009

Ah, peanut butter. That amazing American condiment / food. One of few peanut related things not invented by George Washington Carver, it has given delectable sustenance to countless people. According to some fans, it’s even a staple in 75% of American homes. And it does indeed exist in Japan – it just might not look the same. Or spread the same. Or taste the same. Or even be called by the same name. But it’s here. And I’ll introduce you to its more common varieties.

I went to my local grocery store and picked up the common Japanese peanut butter-ish products. You can see them in the photo above. Clockwise around the plate from bottom left: ピーナッツホイップ (Peanuts Whip), ピーナッツソフト (Peanuts Soft), Skippy (American-style Peanut Butter*), ピーナッツクリーム (Peanuts Cream), and ピーナッツランチパック (Peanuts Lunch Pack). I’ve done a video review of these products available both on this page and on YouTube. (First video! Go me!) * – American-style IS available in Japanese brands, too! Have no fear!

You can see a closeup of the 4 spreads below. The color differences are interesting, and they actually do reflect the depth of taste in each product, in my opinion. If you’ve ever tried these peanutty wonders, feel free to comment below. Do you agree with my review? Vehemently disagree? Let me know!

Needless to say, the American-style Skippy is my favorite. (But don’t think I’m just a shill for Skippy. I’d take JIF, Peter Pan, or generic American-style PB. Just not Reese’s – the stuff is meant to be in candy, not sandwiches.) Yum! In a pinch, I’d go with the Peanut Soft. This might be because my first experience with Japanese peanut spreads was with Peanut Soft. My poor host mom watched me as I tried to gleefully consume a peanut butter sandwich after discovering that the peanut butter…wasn’t. Ha ha. Once I got used to it I just kept on going with it. It’s not that bad, really.

If you’re one of those folks who really likes to get into the spirit of foods you love, you might enjoy making your own peanut butter. And to that end, I’ve embedded another video here. That’s right, it’s a peanut butter bonus round! :-D

(Bigger version!)

The clip above is from Season 11, Episode 9 of Good Eats, titled “Peanut Gallery.” It features host Alton Brown, one of my TV heroes, making his super-simple recipe for homemade peanut butter.

This post is my entry for the February 2009 Japan Blog Matsuri. The theme is Foreign Food. Thanks for reading! Subscribe to my RSS feed if you liked it, and consider hitting one of the social buttons, too! :-)

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  • Chris (

    Peanuts Cream is just a crime against humanity…. I was overjoyed when they started selling Skippy over here in the mid 90′s. Finally, civilisation!

    Chris ( last blog post was: The Crucible and the Rat

  • Deas

    Chris – I obviously couldn’t agree with you any more. :-D

  • Nic

    I suffered through a good few months eating Peanut Cream until I ventured to another super market and was pleased to see some wanna-be Skippy. It’s really not very pleasant stuff, but I managed to choke it down and mix it in with granola to make a…. desserty type of thing. I’ve experienced all those pbs, with the except of that weird excuse for a “sandwich”….

    I continue to watch you chew, Deas. I just can’t help myself.

  • Aileen

    you should be a hand model

  • Chris

    Nice vids :) I thought you were holding the camera at first so when I saw your second hand suddenly appear I was all “WTF MAGIC!”.

    I prefer the crunchy peanut butter with bits of peanut in it. Makes it harder to spread tho.

  • Kathy

    I just wanna say that you shouldn’t have been so biased against the peanut sandwich thing! I really like it actually….when I wanna snack in the combini, I often get them. Of course, American peanut butter is still the best, though. :)

  • Deas

    Chuck – I’ve still got it! Ha ha. I almost put a Nicole-esque subtitle about it. Honest. Almost said “Yes, Nicole, you’re watching me chew again.” Now I wish I had!

    Aileen – David Duchovny’s got nothing on me. (Zoolander.)

    Chris – I actually did a weird little tripod thing to get the shot, where 2 legs were fully retracted and perched atop the table, and 1 was extended all the way to the floor. It was kinda magical, I guess. Ha ha. I also prefer crunchy peanut butter, by the way. The extra spreading effort is worth it!

    Kathy – you’re right. I spoke too soon. But I took it back at the end of the video! :-P

  • Sam

    Hey Deas,
    I’ve tried the peanut butter with snoopy (peanut whip) on it as its the only one my supermarket stocks, I’m so jealous that you have such a variety!! I have also tried the conbini sandwich one and despise it! We don’t have the skippy on back home in Australia so I can’t commnt. I’m a big fan of smooth peanut butter over the crunchy variety!

  • Deas

    Sam – WOW. The whip in a tube is the only one your store stocks!? That’s out of control. I actually went to 2 different stores to gather the products I reviewed in the video. My local store has American-style, but it’s not Skippy, it’s a Japanese brand called “My Peanuts Butter” or something similar. I picked up the Skippy in Imabari at the Fuji Grand, and the rest on my island. (Not bad for a place whose cheese selection is limited to “meltable” and “non-meltable,” huh?) :-P

  • Nic

    I’ll be holding my breath for the subtitles next time around!

    Nics last blog post was: The Shadow’s Sweet Tooth

  • Saitoko

    Wow! I really applaud your bravery! I always wondered about all of the different peanut…spread-type-thingies, but managed to find one of those teeny bottles of Skippy before doing something I knew I might regret later. Thank you for doing this! ^_^

    Saitokos last blog post was: Misudo Otaku

  • Deas

    Chuck – keep holding…

    Saitoko – I’m not brave! I just wanted some decent peanut butter, and I went through a process of elimination. Just thought I could save everyone else the time! :-P

  • Jessi

    Great post and video! I too live in Japan and love peanut butter but I haven’t actually tried any Japanese variations of it. I’ll stick with my good ol’ imported Skippy :D

  • Deas

    Jessi – Skippy does seem to be the number one imported brand. Is any other brand imported in bulk? :-|

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  • Jamaipanese

    call me crazy but I am not a fan of peanut butter

    Jamaipaneses last blog post was: Tokyo! – This movie looks very interesting

  • Deas

    Ok, Kirk. You’re crazy.

  • Jamie

    Not sure why but I hate peanut butter, whilst simultaneously loving Reese’s Pieces. Can someone explain this phenomena to me?

    Jamies last blog post was: Reader Tips

  • Deas

    Jamie – some people really dig certain flavor combinations. Peanut butter and chocolate, for instance. Other people hate certain flavor combinations. (I have met some folks who are vehemently against ingesting chocolate and mint together, which is sad – it’s so good!) :-)

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  • Jonadab

    When I was in college, I got bored one weekend, or was trying to procrastinate studying, or something, and so I set out to create a top-ten-list of uses for peanut butter. I found that I couldn't hold myself to ten, and by the end of the weekend I had a list of 101 uses. Then some other people became involved, and we ended up with over two *thousand* uses.

    But I never knew there were so many *kinds* of peanut butter. I mean, brands, y es, but those things you show in the video aren't just different brands, they're fundamentally different products.

    Besides crunchy/chunky, there is another type of peanut butter you don't mention (probably because it's unlikely to be available in Japan), called “old-fashioned peanut butter” or something like that. I've run into it a couple of times. It's much thinner than the traditional product you know and love, almost a liquid.

  • Deas

    I think I've had old-fashioned peanut butter, actually. The simple truth is that while a bunch of different types are available in Japan, old-fashioned is not, as you guessed.

  • Lauren

    i want the peanut soft D:

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  • Illustar

    How interesting.. I have very font memories of peanut cream – my host mom would make us French toast in the morning and we'd eat it with peanut cream. I loved the stuff. Granted, I haven't had any of the other kinds (barring regular American, of course), and it has been eight years.. but I actually found this blog while trying to find a source of peanut cream and see if it tastes as good as I remember. Crazy. Maybe I should give up the search.

  • Deas

    Don't give up the search! Look for an importer near you or see if you can
    grab it from an online mass vendor.

  • sarah

    Oh man, I loved those sealed peanut butter sandwiches. They're like a Nutter Butter in sandwich form.

  • brandi

    These are my favorite food items in the world. as an american in Japan for the fifth time, i must admit that part of the reason i keep coming back is for those peanut sandwich lunch packs. I wish i could get them in the US!

  • Dcox

    Fonzie I went to a Japanese food place that cooked and served you afterward, I noticed as he was cooking put one of the items in what he was cooking, so I asked him what it was. He told me it was Japanese peanut butter. I have been looking for this Item ever since. That is why I found this website. Anyone who can help me please add a comment to this site. Thanks

  • Lmschmal

    Been trying for ages to get the peanut whip, loved it while I was in Japan anyone know where I can source some online?

  • Izzy Jaecks

    I was in Japan for two weeks back in 1999 studying martial arts at our Grand Master's home dojo.  We were in a fairly small village (as opposed to a city, like Tokyo) and there was a convenience store near where we were staying.  I picked up a loaf of bread and a jar of “peanut butter” to last me for a couple breakfasts… I don't know which it was supposed to be most like from the choices that you tested above– it was mostly like a gelatinous, snot-like spread that was flavored with the worst fake peanut flavor imaginable (it was also very light in color.)

    I tell people that it was the most disgusting thing that I have ever put in my mouth that was meant to be food.