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The Panera Peanut Butter Grilled Cheese Debate


If you’ve turned on the news in the past couple of weeks, you may have heard that a Panera in Natick, Mass., is currently facing a lawsuit after serving a girl with a peanut allergy a grilled cheese … with peanut butter. According to the lawsuit, this is the second Panera in the same franchise group to make this mistake.

The girl’s father, John Russo, told The Boston Globe they ordered the sandwich online and specified in two places that his daughter was severely allergic to peanuts and to avoid cross-contamination. By the time the family realized there was peanut butter in the sandwich, it was too late. Russo’s daughter was hospitalized overnight as a result of the allergic reaction. When the family called the store to complain, the manager said it was a “language issue,” which Russo does not believe. The lawsuit claims a similar contamination happened in Wayland less than a month later.

This story set off a storm of internet controversy. Some are asking why you would order a grilled cheese, of all things, from Panera. Others say a “glorified fast food chain” should have never been trusted to handle a life-threatening allergy in the first place. These points are debatable. But the most common response to this story that I’ve found is “Who puts peanut butter on a grilled cheese?”

While I have never personally tried a peanut butter grilled cheese, I’d like to set the record straight that pairing nut butters (including peanut butter) with cheese is not all that uncommon. In fact, we recommend pairing Sartori SarVecchio Parmesan, Ford Farm Seaside Cheddar, or Beehive Cheese Co. Promontory with peanut butter.

Besides, there are more grilled cheese add-ons than bacon and tomato slices, some of which are way weirder than peanut butter, in my opinion. Check out a few strange-but-tasty grilled cheese recipes below!

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Breakfast Grilled Cheese

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Combine cinnamon-swirl bread, Sartori BellaVitano Canela cheese, and apple slices for this spin on the classic grilled cheese sandwich, fit for breakfast (or dessert!).

Ramen Grilled Cheese

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Have you ever thought to yourself, “What’s the most college student thing I could cook for myself?” This is probably it. One of our former interns, Sarah, tried this recipe with beef-flavored noodles, but if you prefer chicken or spicy vegetable flavors, those would work just as well.

Doughnut Grilled Cheese

Taste Spotting shared their take on the Doughnut Grilled Cheese, recommending a glazed doughnut and cheddar slices for the perfect sweet and savory balance. Not a doughnut person? Try this chocolate chip cookie grilled cheese from Cupcake Project.

Brie and Nutella Grilled Cheese

If using desserts as your bread is a little off-putting, why not try putting sweet treats on the inside of your sandwich? In this recipe from Serious Eats, two worlds of amazing comfort foods collide as Nutella meets Brie between two slices of toasty French bread. Seriously, yum.

Still hungry for more? You can find more adventurous grilled cheese recipes here.

Now, does peanut butter grilled cheese still sound weird?

Feature Photo Credit: Marie C Fields | Shutterstock

Tori Bilcik

Tori is a senior journalism major at Emerson College and a firm believer that a handful (or three) of cheese can instantly improve any dish. When she’s not scouring the artisan cheese aisle at Roche Brothers for wheels and wedges she can’t afford, she’s probably drinking tea, eating cheap pizza, or listening to sad emo punk music.