There's a new recipe at Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) AOL. It involves peanut butter.

Lots and lots of peanut butter.

Brad Garlinghouse is joining the meandering cyberspace giant as its president of Internet and Media Communications. If the name rings a bell, it's because Garlinghouse penned Yahoo!'s (NASDAQ:YHOO) famous "Peanut Butter Manifesto" in 2006.

In the leaked corporate memo, Garlinghouse lashed out at his own company's complacency, its lack of focus, and the evils of being spread too thin -- like peanut butter.

Foundation-rattling executives aren't usually boardroom favorites, but even Garlinghouse made too much sense to ignore. Sometimes, the best person to push a struggling company's face into a mirror is a seasoned insider.

A few months after Garlinghouse's memo, Starbucks' (NASDAQ:SBUX) Howard Schultz -- its founder and former CEO at the time -- wondered whether the java-junkie chain had lost its soul. He eventually resumed the helm to lead the turnaround effort. Nobody likes a party pooper when everyone's having a great time, but sluggish silence deserves blown whistles and rattling cages.

Garlinghouse survived the manifesto because he was absolutely right. By the time he stepped down two years later, Yahoo! had done little to make itself relevant.

If there's any irony in his move to AOL -- after a one-year stint at a Silicon Valley private-equity firm -- it's that he is going from a laggard to a laggard's laggard.

As bad as Yahoo! may have seemed, AOL can sometimes feel like a poor man's Yahoo!, as evidenced by the company's AOL Mail and instant messenger offerings that Garlinghouse will be overseeing. Of the four major free webmail providers, AOL is the only one to shrink over the past year. Yahoo!, Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Hotmail, and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Gmail have all boosted their traffic over the past year, with Google posting the largest percentage gain.

Garlinghouse is clearly moving into a fixer-upper situation. What do you do when folks don't want an "@aol.com" email appendage? If there is an online brand that can use tubs of chunky-style peanut butter to provide some chewy substance, AOL is it.

AOL is trying. It lured Google ad exec Tim Armstrong to the company as its new CEO earlier this year. Armstrong -- and now Garlinghouse -- don't strike me as the kind of executives who would take AOL's slow fade lying down.

Complacency, of course, would be a recipe for disaster (no matter how much peanut butter you spread over it).

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders whether AOL will ever party like it's 1999. He owns no shares in any of the companies in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy, and it's got mail.