HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


PB&J - Jelly in US, Jam in Canada

Anyone know why the difference in the two countries. When i have had them in the US, most times it is with Jam, not Jelly, but they call it Jelly.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. For me it is crunchy peanut butter and strawberry jam. In a pinch, creamy peanut butter, but only strawberry jam will do.

    1 Reply
    1. re: golfer1

      Agreed! Anything but strawberry just doesn't seem right...

    2. Peanut butter and jelly just sounds better than peanut butter and jam, I think. I (American) use raspberry jam. I'm not crazy about jellies.

      1. I believe, in times past long long ago, grape jelly was the goto for the classic, thus.. PB&J.

        1 Reply
        1. re: treb

          Grape jelly is definitely the "starter" mix for a lot of PB&J lovers---the straightforward sweetness and smooth texture (no chunks, no seeds, no rind) of grape jelly is soothing to many kids who aren't adventurous eaters (or grown ups who like the classic blend).

        2. While the J does stand for 'jelly', my understanding is that you many use any sort of sweet spread that you want - jelly, jam, preserves, marmalade, fruit butter, Biscoff spread, Nutella, chutney. But since it is most popular with kids, the most common, cheapest spread is the default choice - grape jelly.

          1. Even as a kid I preferred grape jam to jelly. Now my favorite is Smucker's natural PB and all fruit style jam/preserves.

            1. I agree that the sandwich is Peanut Butter & Jelly no matter if the fruit part is jam, jelly or preserves.

              1 Reply
              1. re: calliope_nh

                Agreed. While I do know the differences, in the Pine household, we use jam, jelly and preserves as synonyms.

              2. I've never thought about it before, but its definitely "peanut butter and jam" to me. I'm (obviously!!) in Canada.

                1. Jelly is more like a jelly. There are no seeds and the texture and viscosity are different. Jam tends to be gooier and often has pulp or seeds left in.

                  I find Canada's terminology to incorporate both that of it's American neighbours and some more of it's British connections.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Musie

                    I'm confused by this. Can you expand please?

                    Are you saying that we call "jelly" "jam"? In my experience, that is not true as the terms mean different things. Obviously, it may be different elsewhere.

                    1. re: CanadaGirl

                      I believe that Canadians and those of us in the States have the same definitions for the words "jam" and "jelly." They start out the same, but jelly is slowly strained through a special sack, removing any bits of fruit.

                  2. Who are "they?"
                    When I see it somewhere, like at a restaurant, kids menu, or in the school lunch, "uncrustables," it is usually grape jelly, not jam.

                    1. I think that there's a difference in terminology here. I'm not sure about Australia/NZ/other native English-speaking countries, but I believe that what Americans call "jelly," Canada and the UK call "jam," while what a Canadian or Brit calls "jelly" Americans call "Jell-O" or "gelatin."

                      To complicate matters, in the US there seems to be a difference between "jelly" and "jam," in that "jam" frequently contains pieces of fruit, and "jelly" is usually a homogeneous fruit-flavored substance. I don't have any idea whether the rest of the world has such a distinction.

                      Corrections welcome.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: guilty

                        "In many of the Commonwealth nations and in Ireland, gelatin desserts are called jelly.
                        In the United States and Canada, gelatin desserts are called jello (a generic name based on the brand name Jell-O) or gelatin, whereas 'jelly' is a fruit preserve."
                        Wiki article

                        1. re: guilty

                          Jam is made with the fruit itself; jelly is made with **juice** - most US fruit jellies are clear, or nearly so.

                          (note I''m using the US definition here -- a congealed gelatine dessert is Jell-O, regardless of the actual brand used)

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            +1 to this.
                            Saw both from Smuckers as a kid in the grocery store, difference was that one used juice the other used fruit puree. Ever since then I've been going by this definition.

                          2. re: guilty

                            I live in Canada, and there are problems with your understanding.
                            1. Jam is fruit cooked with sugar and (maybe) pectin to create a spreadable preserve. AFAIK, it is the same in the US
                            2. Jelly is like jam, but without the chunks of fruit. Juice only. AFAIK, again it is the same as in the US
                            3. Jello is used for gelatin desserts, regardless of the actual brand. I have never heard of Jello being called Jelly.

                              1. re: paulj

                                I am confused by these links. I see some references to Victorian jelly, but that doesn't really have anything to do with what I posted. (Canada is different than Victorian England)

                                Perhaps I missed it? Not going to lie - I didn't carefully read every word, so I may have missed something.

                                1. re: paulj

                                  Interesting links indeed. I have noted the variation in naming in different countries and contrary to my understanding of the definition, the interchangeability of jam and jelly. Also the note regarding the production of Jello (gelatin) as being from cow hoofs and or animal bone is a fact which surprised me a few years ago when I also learned that some capsules used to dispense pharmaceuticals are likewise produced.

                                  1. re: Bacchus101

                                    there are a couple of threads running intermittently about the shock and disgust of some kosher yogurts being made with gelatine from tilapia - yes, fish.

                                    Gelatine can come from hides and tendons, too -- one of those things it's best to just not think very hard about.

                                    1. re: Bacchus101


                                      Foodtimeline discusses all 3 together. The American (USA & Canada) jelly is thickened with fruit pectin, the UK with gelatin.

                                      I bet the separate jello arose because of the dominance of one brand of dried gelatin in those countries. In many Spanish speaking counties Royal is the equivalent.

                                  2. re: CanadaGirl

                                    In the UK, what Americans call jello we call jelly. Other than that, jam is jam whether with fruit chunks or not.

                                    1. re: CanadaGirl

                                      Thanks for setting me straight; CanadaGirl. I guess I assumed too much from the OP's comments. Now I won't make a fool of myself at breakfast in Canada ;)

                                      1. re: guilty

                                        Come on now! We are too polite to make you feel bad at breakfast :)

                                        Still, I'm always amazed at how much terminology can change between out two countries, especially since most Canadians live within 100 km of the US!

                                  3. We are both American -- my husband grew up with peanut butter and jelly (Welch's grape jelly), I grew up with peanut butter and jam (usually raspberry, strawberry, or apricot preserves). My family did not call it PB and jelly. Perhaps the Welch's advertising hammered home the common usage of jelly, and as people grew and migrated from jelly to jam, they maintained the terminology.

                                    1. I am Canadian (SW Ontario) and have always eaten "peanut butter and jam", not "peanut butter and jelly". We rarely had "jelly" (by that I mean the transparent fruit spread with no hint of seeds or pieces of fruit). I think as a kid if I had seen "jelly" I probably would have called it "jam" anyway, since that's what I was used to.

                                      It was normal for us to have strawberry jam, raspberry jam and cherry jam in the fridge. Cherry was my favourite. I only ever saw grape jelly on American TV ads, and even then I wondered why it was called "jelly".

                                      Jello is definitely called jello around here, no matter if it's made by Kraft or a knockoff brand.

                                      1. Obviously there are regional differences as to what is called Jelly or Jam. The other delights in the fruit spread realm, Marmalade and Preserves seem better defined base on how they are made and the relative condition/size of the fruit. I had always considered Jam to have a more obvious and heavier fruit content and jelly to be clear and smooth. It appears that was an over simplification base on what has been posted here.

                                        1 Reply