The United States government has created the world's most expensive jar of peanut butter. Is it laced with pure gold? Coated in rare white truffle dust? Could it be hypo-allergenic? No, no, and no. This $761 jar of peanut butter was developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Its high price has nothing to do with the ingredients in the jar. In fact, Katherine E. Sharpless, a NIST chemist who coordinated the project told the New York Times in 2003 that the blend of roasted peanuts, sugar, hydrogenated fat, and salt was "prepared by a commercial manufacturer of peanut butter whose name you would recognize.''
So why the eye-boggling price tag? It has to do with the labor involved: Dozens of scientists and lab technicians around the country spent time analyzing the peanut butter. This peanut butter is ''standard reference material, designed not to be eaten but... to be fed into gas chromatographs, mass spectrometers and other analytical equipment." The NIST's job is to provide a baseline product and respective analysis so that manufacturers have a reference by which to compare other, similar foods.
When it was first released in 2003, the NIST's peanut butter was a huge step forward in food group analysis and cost $140 per jar. It has since more than quintupled in price.
Though it contains no gold, this is the gold standard of peanut butter.
Back in 2003, then NYT restaurant critic William Grimes said of NIST's peanut butter:
"... [it] tastes a lot better than it looks, which is like dark-brown industrial paste. I wasn't sure whether to eat it or lay down some new bathroom tile. As a food product, it seemed to aim for dead average. The peanut flavor was muted, and it lacked the creamy, unctuous quality of storebought brands. If you like peanut butter to stick to the roof of your mouth, this is one for you.''