Peanut Butter and Jelly Graduates

Photos by Amy TierneyThere's one American comfort food that makes schoolyard memories, from your Thunder Cats lunchbox to that time you fell off the monkey bars, come rushing back: the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Love it or hate it, the power of PB&J can't be denied, and it has graduated from brown paper bags to gourmet dishes and desserts. To mark the beginning of the 2012 fall semester, we've found five LA establishments putting a new spin on the old-school favorite.

Grill 'Em All's Dee Snider Burger
Chef and PB&J enthusiast Ryan Harkins loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches so much he has one tattooed on his arm. He's also been known to fix a PB&J ... &S while stuck in traffic, the S standing for Sriracha chili sauce. The peculiar time-passer eventually conceived the Dee Snider burger: A seven-ounce beef burger dressed with peanut butter, jelly and Sriracha. Sound too bizarre (or Twilight Zone-y) for you? Co-owner Matt Chemus says, "when [customers] order it, they become converted by the mosh pit of flavors!"

Why Dee Snider? The burger's color combinations remind Matt of the metal rocker's outfits while performing with Twisted Sister.

Vicious Dogs' Peanut Butter Dog
We've all agonized over whether to make a hot dog or a PB&J for lunch and Vicious Dogs in North Hollywood has finally solved our dilemma: A bacon-wrapped beef dog smeared with peanut butter and strawberry jelly, all bundled up in a fluffy white bun. Not impressed? Feel free to add bananas, chocolate and/or honey, but you won't find this gem on the main menu, so make like a VIP and ask for it at the counter.

Rocket Fizz's Peanut Butter and Jelly Soda
The soda pop and candy shop has gone ahead and trapped childhood in a bottle with Lester's Fixins peanut butter and jelly soda. The label even features a mouth-watering sandwich with PB and J oozing out the sides. But if the thought of bottled youth feels too overwhelming, you can start with plain peanut butter or grape, and once you get a little more comfortable, mix both flavors together for a crazy lunchbox explosion.

The Bigg Chill's Peanut Butter and Jelly Frozen Yogurt
Every now and then the cash-only yogurt shop offers its peanut butter and jelly flavor, which tastes exactly like recess. The Bigg Chill's PB&J came long before Pinkberry's PB&J offering, and isn't a concoction of peanut butter froyo topped with jam and bread crumbs. The complete experience is swirled into the yogurt itself, and while the peanut butter outdoes the jelly, every other bite tosses you a hint of grape that takes you back to the days that seemed to last forever.

With 400 flavors in its two to three-day rotation, peanut butter and jelly isn't offered frequently, so be sure to check their website for daily selections.

The Oinkster's Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcake
While The Oinkster is best known for its savory burgers and sandwiches, it offers a handful of substantial desserts, including the PB&J cupcake: A peanut butter cake filled with a ribbon of raspberry jam, topped with a light, peanut butter frosting. So next time you order The Royale with a side of Piggy Fries, perhaps save some room for a delectable, playground treat.

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About the Author

Rebecca Pardess is a Los Angeles native, freelance writer, and full-time web producer for a daytime TV show. She loves noodles, hates overpriced grilled cheese sandwiches, and wants to be your friend.
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