NIH-Financed Study on Causal Relationship between PB&J Sandwiches and SAT Scores | HumorOutcasts

NIH-Financed Study on Causal Relationship between PB&J Sandwiches and SAT Scores

July 16, 2014

Posited Hypothesis: Students consuming a higher quantity of PB&J sandwiches in the six months before testing period  would receive higher scores on SAT, GRE, LSAT and MCAT tests.

Method: This project is jointly financed by the NIH, the CDC, the American Dietetic Association, the Georgia State Peanut Association, the National Education Association and the Princeton Board of Standardized Achievement Tests.

The primary researcher admits to no personal or commercial interest in the project, but the above organizations and other nonprofit entities have vested interests that though substantial really don’t add up to much. They advertised in professional journals and standard venues, stipulating that all men and women students ages 16 and above will receive free PB&J sandwiches (or reimbursement for the cost) during the six month period prior to taking the standardized tests.

All prospective participants must meet the following criteria: (a) Sign an affidavit attesting to a non -allergic response to peanuts and all related products since the U.S. government or any of the aforementioned vested interests will not be responsible for anaphylactic shock victims and their greedy attorneys; (b) Agree to keep a personal diary as to the mechanical method and rate of chewing, propensity for trimming away crusts or eating sandwiches au natural and their preference for smooth, chunky, low fat/low sugar or regular peanut butter spread; (c) Admit to any extra-ordinary advantage the person might have (for example, a higher than normal tolerance for peanut butter due to a tendency toward or psychiatric diagnosis of OCD or, on the other hand, a lower than normal creativity quotient resulting in a predilection for unimaginative, easy to prepare and repetitive lunches, i.e. PB&J.

Tools: Our financial partners are receiving tremendous support from wholesale and retail PB&J vendors such as Safeway, Albertsons, Price Club, Sam’s Club, and Costco.  “We’re only too happy to feed the minds and bodies of young people we know will change the world, preferably in a good way,” said Tiffany Charlton, public relations rep for the consortium known as Classic Nutrition for the Milennium.

Strategy: This trial will, by necessity, not qualify as a double-blind study since no one but the most dysfunctional subject would mistake peanut butter for, say, tuna fish. But the 40,000 participants we hope to recruit will be divided into two equal groups–PB&J eaters and those who swear on a stack of bibles that they will not partake of PB&J but will restrict themselves to such gustatory categories as fast food (including burgers, chicken sandwiches and subs), pizza and that old reliable standby, cream cheese and sardines on pimiento bread. More than 30 cities in the United States will conduct PB&J trials over the next six months.

Subjects will be asked to check in daily at the automated sandwich vendor available to them 24/7 in high school and college cafeterias, snack bars, campus cafes, etc. If they wish to ingest a PB&J sandwich, they will insert a “dummy” coin (distributed by the cashier) into the slot of the robotic free standing device in the shape of a Ritz cracker standing next to the lime jello. Within seconds the robot will spit out an aluminum foil-wrapped, freshly made PB&J. Subjects disinterested in eating yet another PB&J will have to submit to a confidential interview with the robot, after which the subject–if he still feels hungry– will be turned loose to purchase another nutritionally classic sandwich such as a ham and swiss on rye, hold the pickles.

Results: The results were both surprising and boringly predictable. The offer of free sandwiches being what it is–seemingly too good to be true–many of the subjects who would have preferred PB&J sandwiches did not follow through on that choice due to disbelief that the option actually existed. On the other hand, most of the subjects forgot to bring their lunches from home and had to depend on the kindness of strange cafeterias, robots and restaurants. Which is when the Ritz did its prime business.

In the end, more people opted for PB&J sandwiches than the researchers anticipated. Luckily our financial supporters stuck by us although there were sporadic threats to deny deliveries of whole wheat-calcium enriched loaves of bread since during the time frame in which the trial took place a rare fungus infiltrated the agricultural industry, forcing farmers to destroy much of the flour harvest. At the same time, coincidentally, a shortage of bee pollinators put the squeeze on orchard owners, and fewer jars of Smuckers and other less pricey brands showed up on store shelves. Through it all, however, our financial support never wavered and no subject was ever turned down when it came to a PB&J sandwich.

We’re happy to report that athough our hypothesis suggesting a causal relationship between PB&J sandwiches and higher achievement test scores wasn’t worth the paper it was written on, everyone who participated in the clinical trial had a great time, especially sandwich makers who ran private bets on how many sandwiches it took before subjects could  cope with everyday common  traumas such as pimples, transgendering dates, wrong-way drivers and the grief following the loss of a beloved iPhone or Droid.

An additional finding was that all subjects managed to put on weight during the trial period. Some more than others. It seemed the PB&Jers subconsciously preferred whole milk with their sandwiches (perhaps due to flashbacks to “mommy-fix-lunch for snookins” scenarios in their childhood). They also developed  a higher than expected distaste for sandwiches in which preparers tried to trick subjects by substituting honey for jelly/jam. Some preparers even went so far to substitute matzos for bread, but they gave up after no one noticed. Researchers attribute this to a lower than normal Test Discrepancy Index, which sadly taints the most highly controlled trials.

Analysis:It goes without saying that the NIH believes in the absolute integrity of this project but requests a change in bread if the trial is repeated to verify the results. While the rest of our financial supporters request they never again be contacted, the feedback from subjects was positive despite the fact that no one neared the perfect 800 test score. The general feeling was that a more direct approach to the goal of improved test scores might be gained through cheating, not eating. Eating is, after all, highly individual and nap-inspiring while cheating has the advantage of being easily taught with great carryover to other situations.

Questions or comments about this clinical study can be forwarded to the main researcher at janice@pb&


Janice Arenofsky

I write humor, but also books and serious essays, features and profiles, usually for national venues. I'm a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists , Humor Writers of America, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. I live in Arizona, where it's hot, hot, hot (but very dry of course), and I have six dogs and two cats. Oh yes, a husband, too. I blog at Come and visit me there or at my website or at Facebook, where I'm The Dysfunctional Family. Got almost 1,000 followers. Join us.

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One Response to NIH-Financed Study on Causal Relationship between PB&J Sandwiches and SAT Scores

  1. July 16, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    I can’t imagine this was a pressing research issue but I’m glad they finally administered this study. I was always all “but what if people eat a shit ton of PBJ? Could they ace the SAT?” Now I know.

    My favorite part of this piece was “This trial will, by necessity, not qualify as a double-blind study since no one but the most dysfunctional subject would mistake peanut butter for, say, tuna fish.”

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