Imagining a world where chocolate becomes a costly luxury is hard enough — but now peanut butter, too? The reliable sandwich spread is becoming problematic, thanks to a peanut shortage that's sending prices skyrocketing, reports Tiffany Hsu of the Los Angeles Times. After searingly hot weather devastated the summer crop of Runner peanuts, the variety most widely used to make the creamy — or crunchy! — spread, the cost of raw peanuts has nearly tripled. A look at the numbers behind this "scary" new development:

3.46 billion 
Pounds of peanuts that will be harvested this year, down 17 percent from 2010   

Years since the United States has experienced a peanut harvest this bad. Blame "high heat, strong winds, and bone-dry conditions," say researchers from New Mexico State University.

The cost of a ton of Runner peanuts in 2010

The cost of a ton of Runner peanuts in 2011

Percentage increase in the price of Jif

Percentage increase in the price of Skippy

Percentage of U.S. households that consume peanut butter


Percentage increase of peanut butter consumption in the U.S. since 2008. It's a "much more affordable protein option for families" than meat or fish, says Kim Conte at The Stir.

$4 billion 
Amount the peanut industry contributes each year to the domestic economy, according to the National Peanut Board

The number of peanuts it takes to make one 12 oz. jar of peanut butter

The price hike for an 18-ounce jar of Jif peanut butter, which currently costs $3.14 at a Target store in New Jersey

Sources: Cafe MomFood ReferenceHuffington PostLA Times (2), Wall Street Journal