25 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With Peanut Butter

iStock
iStock

Most people know peanut butter as a staple from their childhood lunches or something that gets stuck to the roof of their mouth. But its applications extend far beyond the lunchbox. From making repairs around the home to making precious gemstones, here are some surprising things you can do with the protein-packed spread.

1. MAKE A GLOW-IN-THE-DARK SCIENCE EXPERIMENT

Hand holding green laser pointer.
Sarah Sotin, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you ever need something to do during a power outage, try experimenting with a sealed jar of peanut butter and a laser pointer. The crushing and heating process used to make peanut butter produces phenols, organic compounds that absorb light. Exposing fresh peanut butter to the violet light of a laser pointer will cause the phenols to glow green for a few seconds at a time.

2. GET YOUR MORNING CAFFEINE FIX

Jars of caffeinated peanut butter.
STEEM

Peanut butter doesn't normally contain caffeine, but a serving of STEEM peanut butter packs more than a cup of coffee. Because it takes our bodies longer to absorb peanut butter than liquid coffee, the company claims that the caffeinated version of the treat offers a longer lasting energy boost than straight java—and will do it without any of the jittery side effects.

3. TURN IT INTO DIAMONDS

Tweezers holding a diamond.
iStock

Peanut butter isn't considered a high-end product, but subject it to the extreme conditions of the Earth's mantle and that could change. A researcher in Germany successfully made a synthetic diamond using peanut butter as his source of carbon. The substance had to be squeezed with pressure 1.3 million times that of our atmosphere before a diamond was formed. But don't expect the peanut butter diamonds to be studding engagement rings anytime soon: The results were puny and impure compared to what's sold in jewelry stores.

4. REMOVE GUM

Girl blowing bubble gum with a brick wall behind her
iStock

Maybe you fell asleep with gum in your mouth, or you blew a bubble that was just too big for your own good. Whatever the reason, odds are that you've gotten gum stuck in your hair at one point or another. In such cases, peanut butter has prevented many unwanted trips to the hairdresser. The oils in the product make gum less pliable and sticky, therefore easier to massage out of hair. The quick fix also works to free gum from other surfaces like clothing.

5. TREAT HICCUPS

Woman eating peanut butter with a spoon.
iStock

Peanut butter is one of the lesser-known purported hiccup cures, but some people swear by it. The idea is that slowly consuming something thick and gooey like peanut butter will break up your swallowing and breathing patterns and dispel the hiccups. It also sounds way more enjoyable than holding your breath or standing on your head.

6. FEED ASTRONAUTS

Half-eaten peanut butter sandwich.
iStock

Dining options are limited on the International Space Station, but even in space peanut butter sandwiches make an appearance on the menu. Assembling the meal up there isn't as easy as laying out the components on your kitchen counter. Instead of a jar, the peanut butter astronauts eat is stored in a flat-packed squeeze tube.

7. MAKE BAIT FOR FISH

Man fishing in a lake.
iStock

Forget fancy lures: According to some experienced fishermen, peanut butter sandwiches make some of the best bait for catching codfish, catfish, carp, and bluegill. Prepare it on stale bread and garnish it with birdseed or garlic to make it especially irresistible.

8. REPAIR SCRATCHES

DVD with scratches.
iStock

Depending on how long you’ve been holding on to it, your favorite CD or DVD likely has a scratch or two. But there's no reason to retire your scuffed-up discs for good: All you need is some peanut butter to extend the lifespan of your collection. Lightly rub the damaged surface with the peanut butter, set it down for a short while, and then remove the excess with a cloth. The scratches will still be there, but the oils from the peanuts will temporarily fill them in and smooth them out. You can also try the trick with your scratched-up wood furniture.

9. GET A HORSE TO "TALK"

Horse with its mouth open.
iStock

Before the age of CGI, the makers of the sitcom Mister Ed used a much simpler method to get their equine star to "talk." The producers claimed that when they put peanut butter in the horse's mouth, he would move his lips to try to get it out. They dubbed the dialogue over this footage to create the illusion of a talking horse. (Though according to one theory, a wire attached to the horse's head was the primary source of the special effect.)

10. USE IT AS SHAVING CREAM

Razor sitting on the edge of a bath tub.
iStock

If you're open to mixing up your grooming routine, consider swapping your shaving gel with peanut butter. It's cheaper, works just as well, and, as a bonus, nourishes your skin with natural oils. Give it a shot if you don't mind smelling nutty and delicious for the rest of the day.

11. ESCAPE FROM PRISON

Cell doors in a prison hallway.
iStock

A group of prisoners at the Walker County Jail in Alabama were able to escape confinement using nothing but peanut butter and some clever deception. After smearing peanut butter on the numbers above their cell so it matched the number of the door leading outside, the inmates asked a new guard to let them into what they claimed to be their cell. From the control room, he inadvertently opened the front door and the escapees were able to walk right out. Despite the breakout, peanut butter sandwiches are still served at the prison.

12. REMOVE STICKERS

Price sticker on green background.
Alex Liivet, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Peanut butter works the same magic on hard-to-peel stickers as it does on gum. Once you have your new purchase, peel off as much of the price sticker as possible and scrub away the stubborn residue with a dab of peanut butter. Peanut butter is also a great nontoxic way to remove stickers and glue from produce.

13. COOK SAVORY DISHES

Ramen in a bowl on a table.
iStock

It's no secret that peanut butter shines in sugary treats, whether in a cupcake or a candy bar. But peanut butter works just as well as a savory ingredient. If you have a jar in your pantry, you can add a dollop to punch up your instant ramen, or use it as a thickener in sauces or stews.

14. PREVENT DISEASE

Tools for making a peanut butter sandwich spread out on a table.
iStock

You may already know that peanut butter is a great source of fiber and protein, but according to one study, the health benefits of eating the snack while you're young may extend to later in life. Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Harvard Medical School found that women who consumed peanut butter on a regular basis between ages 9 and 15 decreased their chances of developing benign breast disease by age 30 by 39 percent.

15. BUILD A BIRD FEEDER

You may remember this one from summer camp—to build a cheap bird feeder at home, all you need is a pine cone, some peanut butter, bird seed, and string. Cover the pine cone in the peanut butter before rolling it in the seed to coat it. Use a string to hang it up from a nearby tree branch and watch the birds in your backyard gather to enjoy the homemade treat.

16. USE IT AS FROSTING

Cupcake with peanut butter frosting.
iStock

Looking for a more nutritious alternative to sugary frosting? Peanut butter makes the perfect topping for your baked goods. Spread it on chocolate cupcakes, cookies, or even doughnuts.

17. KEEP PETS OCCUPIED

Dog chewing a toy.
Alan Levine, Flickr // Public Domain

If dogs love one thing more than playtime with their humans, it's peanut butter. The ingredient can be used to make a toy that your pet won't rip apart or get bored with after two minutes. Get your hands on a Kong or a similar hollow, rubber chew toy and fill it with a generous spoonful of peanut butter. While your dog spends the afternoon figuring out how to get it out, you can enjoy a few hours of peace and quiet.

18. MAKE EDIBLE SCULPTING DOUGH

Sticking a finger in a jar of peanut butter.
iStock

Peanut butter is messier than real Play-Doh, but it's also a lot tastier. Mix half a cup of it with one cup of powdered sugar and two tablespoons of honey to get a material that's the perfect consistency for rolling, shaping, and squeezing. And once your creations are complete, they can make a wholesome post-playtime bite.

19. MAKE MEDICINE MORE APPEALING

Dog being fed peanut butter.
iStock

This trick is a favorite with parents of pets and kids. Before giving a pill to a dog, cat, or young child, hide it in a gob of peanut butter. The medication they turned their noses up at moments ago suddenly becomes a lot easier to swallow.

20. GET A POST-WORKOUT PROTEIN BOOST

Lacing up shoes before a workout.
iStock

Fueling up right after exercising is essential to replenishing your energy stores and repairing and building up muscles. Peanut butter is one of the best foods you can include in your post-workout snack. The carbs, fats, and proteins in a serving are exactly what your body needs after being pushed to the limit.

21. QUALITY TEST PRODUCTS

Open jar of peanut butter.
iStock

The world's most perfect jar of peanut butter is produced by the federal government. At a price of $220 for a 6-ounce jar, the National Institute of Standards and Technology sells the flawless spread to food manufacturers developing their own peanut-based products. By testing "Standard Reference Material No. 2387" in the lab, they can see how the vitamin, mineral, and aflatoxin levels in their own peanut butters stack up.

22. BUILD A 444-POUND PEANUT BUTTER CUP

Peanut butter cups on a table.
iStock

In 2015, a Los Angeles-area candy shop lined a plastic kiddie pool with melted chocolate and filled it with peanut butter in an attempt to break the world record for largest peanut butter cup. The monstrous confection ended up weighing 444 pounds. Afterwards, it was broken up into smaller pieces and sold to raise money for charity.

23. USE IT AS CONDITIONER

Woman brushing her hair in the mirror.
iStock

You don't have to wait to get gum stuck in your hair to lather it up with peanut butter. The oils and nutrients it contains make it a great natural alternative to leave-in conditioner. Just work it into your hair, allow it to sit for a while, and wash it out to find vibrant, lustrous locks underneath.

24. MAKE A FACEMASK

The same properties that make peanut butter a nourishing hair treatment also make it a soothing face mask. A peanut butter facial works best on dry skin and shouldn't be applied to faces that are already oily.

25. SHINE LEATHER

Hand cleaning a leather sofa.
iStock

Your dull leather is only a few dabs of peanut butter away from looking as good as new. Rub it into the material you want to shine by making tiny circles with your fingers, then use a towel or washcloth to wipe it off. The polishing hack also works on leather shoes.

14 Retro Gifts for Millennials

Ravi Palwe, Unsplash
Ravi Palwe, Unsplash

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, which means the pop culture they grew up with is officially retro. No matter what generation you belong to, consider these gifts when shopping for the Millennials in your life this holiday season.

1. Reptar Funko Pop!; $29

Amazon

This vinyl Reptar figurine from Funko is as cool as anything you’d find in the rugrats’ toy box. The monster dinosaur has been redesigned in classic Pop! style, making it a perfect desk or shelf accessory for the grown-up Nickelodeon fan. It also glows in the dark, which should appeal to anyone’s inner child.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Dragon Ball Z Slippers; $20

Hot Topic

You don’t need to change out of your pajamas to feel like a Super Saiyan. These slippers are emblazoned with the same kanji Goku wears on his gi in Dragon Ball Z: one for training under King Kai and one for training with Master Roshi. And with a soft sherpa lining, the footwear feels as good as it looks.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. The Pokémon Cookbook; $15

Hop Topic

What do you eat after a long day of training and catching Pokémon? Any dish in The Pokémon Cookbook is a great option. This book features more than 35 recipes inspired by creatures from the Pokémon franchise, including Poké Ball sushi rolls and mashed Meowth potatoes.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. Lisa Frank Activity Book; $5

Urban Outfitters

Millennials will never be too old for Lisa Frank, especially when the artist’s playful designs come in a relaxing activity book. Watercolor brings the rainbow characters in this collection to life. Just gather some painting supplies and put on a podcast for a relaxing, nostalgia-fueled afternoon.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

5. Shoebox Tape Recorder with USB; $28

Amazon

The days of recording mix tapes don’t have to be over. This device looks and functions just like tape recorders from the pre-smartphone era. And with a USB port as well as a line-in jack and built-in mic, users can easily import their digital music collection onto retro cassette tapes.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Days of the Week Scrunchie Set; $12

Urban Outfitters

Millennials can be upset that a trend from their youth is old enough to be cool again, or they can embrace it. This scrunchie set is for anyone happy to see the return of the hair accessory. The soft knit ponytail holders come in a set of five—one for each day of the school (or work) week.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

7. D&D Graphic T-shirt; $38-$48

80s Tees

The perfect gift for the Dungeon Master in your life, this graphic tee is modeled after the cover of the classic Dungeons & Dragons rule book. It’s available in sizes small through 3XL.

Buy it: 80s Tees

8. Chuck E. Cheese T-shirt; $36-$58

80s Tees

Few Millennials survived childhood without experiencing at least one birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. This retro T-shirt sports the brand’s original name: Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre. It may be the next-best gift for a Chuck E. Cheese fan behind a decommissioned animatronic.

Buy it: 80s Tees

9. The Nightmare Before Christmas Picnic Blanket Bag; $40

Shop Disney

Fans of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas will recognize the iconic scene on the front of this messenger bag. Unfold it and the bag becomes a blanket fit for a moonlit picnic among the pumpkins. The bottom side is waterproof and the top layer is made of soft fleece.

Buy it: Shop Disney

10. Toy Story Alien Socks; $15

Shop Disney

You don’t need to be skilled at the claw machine to take home a pair of these socks. Decorated with the aliens from Toy Story, they’re made from soft-knit fabric and are big enough to fit adult feet.

Buy it: Shop Disney

11. Goosebumps Board Game; $24

Amazon

Fans that read every book in R.L. Stine’s series growing up can now play the Goosebumps board game. In this game, based on the Goosebumps movie, players take on the role of their favorite monster from the series and race to the typewriter at the end of the trail of manuscripts.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Tamagotchi Mini; $19

Amazon

If you know someone who killed their Tamagotchi in the '90s, give them another chance to show off their digital pet-care skills. This Tamagotchi is a smaller, simplified version of the original game. It doubles as a keychain, so owners have no excuse to forget to feed their pet.

Buy it: Amazon

13. SNES Classic; $275

Amazon

The SNES Classic is much easier to find now than when it first came out, and it's still just as entertaining for retro video game fans. This mini console comes preloaded with 21 Nintendo games, including Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II.

Buy it: Amazon

14. Planters Cheez Balls; $24

Amazon

Planters revived its Cheez Balls in 2018 after pulling them from shelves nearly a decade earlier. To Millennials unaware of that fact, this gift could be their dream come true. The throwback snack even comes in the classic canister fans remember.

Buy it: Amazon

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

10 Great Gifts for Teens

Fjallraven/Polaroid
Fjallraven/Polaroid

If it’s been a few years since you were a teenager, you might be feeling at a loss when it comes to finding the perfect gift for the teen in your life. But you don’t have to worry—we’ve culled the internet to figure out what’s cool these days, and we found 10 items to suit any teen (and any price point).

1. Fjällräven Kånken Mini Classic Backpack for Everyday; $70

Fjällräven/Amazon

Fjällräven’s Kånken backpack was originally introduced in 1978 as an affordable and comfortable bag for Swedish schoolchildren, but it recently took off as a trend among American high schoolers and college students. With 43 different color options, chances are you’ll be able to find the perfect trendy backpack for the teen in your life.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Hydro Flask Standard-Mouth Water Bottle; $30–$35

Hydro Flask/Amazon

Hydro Flasks aren’t only trendy, they’re sturdy and environmentally friendly. Plus, they keep hot drinks warm and icy drinks cool for an absurdly long amount of time. The standard-mouth water bottle is currently available on Amazon in 17 different colors, but the brand also offers tumbler cups and coffee mugs depending on your niece/nephew/cousin/friend/child’s preference.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Polaroid Originals OneStep+ Bluetooth-Connected Instant Film Camera; $140

Polaroid Originals/Amazon

Teens can kick it back old school with this Polaroid camera that hides some surprisingly contemporary features. Using a special app, users can fine-tune their camera settings to suit their personal tastes. Plus, this camera makes it possible to capture two scenes in a single frame, so it's that much easier to create uniquely artsy Polaroid pics.

Buy it: Amazon

4. 4th-Generation Echo Dot with Clock; $60

Amazon

Tech-wise, the fourth-generation Echo Dot is almost identical to its third-generation predecessor. But the updated spherical design seems poised to make the Echo Dot a worthy contender for traditional alarm clocks—the speaker face shows the time and it even includes a tap-to-snooze function for drowsy sleepers.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Bubble Tea Kit; $38

Uncommon Goods

Part of the reason bubble tea is so popular is that it’s customizable—and what could be more customizable than making it yourself? This kit, made by an Atlanta-based couple, comes with two reusable straws and enough supplies to make up to eight servings.

Buy it: Uncommon Goods

6. Mixtape Card Game; $20

Uncommon Goods

This party game challenges players to find the perfect songs to suit specific prompts. Some cards might prompt players to use Spotify or Youtube to search for the songs with the best guitar solos, while other cards call for participants to play their “favorite slow dance love jam from junior high.” This game is sure to be a hit at any high school sleepover or house party—or, in true 2020 style, at any digital hangout or Zoom meeting.

Buy it: Uncommon Goods

7. Giant Flour Tortilla Throw Blanket; $18-$35

Mermaker/Amazon

This goofy double-sided blanket turns any human into a giant-size burrito, and it comes in four different sizes to suit any height. One reviewer even went so far as to say that “once you wrap yourself in it, you will be convinced that you are a burrito.”

Buy it: Amazon

8. The Cup of Destiny; $22

Shelter Harbor Press/Amazon

Here’s a prediction: Your hunt for the perfect gift is almost over. This kit is ideal for the teenager who is fascinated by the supernatural and loves exploring new ideas. Included, you’ll find a 96-page illustrated instruction book along with a cup and a saucer marked with patterns and symbols.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Wreck This Journal: Now in Color; $9

Penguin Books/Amazon

This journal is not intended to be pretty. It’s made for messiness and exploration and a little bit of chaos. Artistic-minded teens will love filling out pages that prompt them to catalog various stains or poke holes through the paper. Reviewers say it’s not only a source of creative inspiration, though—it’s also a stress reliever. And considering that the middle-school and high-school years aren’t exactly known for being relaxing, this journal could be a welcome reprieve from the daily pressure of managing homework and a social life.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Therapy Dough; $15

Uncommon Goods

Some teens focus better and relax more easily when they have something to fidget with. If the teen in your life fits that description, this therapy dough may be the perfect gift for them. Each 4.5-ounce container is infused with essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus, orange, or pine, making relaxation smell delicious (and all natural!).

Buy it: Uncommon Goods

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.