Due to popular demand and the fact that we love trying weird foods and candies, The A.V. Club periodically features Taste Tests. Feel free to suggest disgusting and/or delicious new edibles for future installments: E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Almost a year before it was commercially available, Candwich entered the annals of Internet lore thanks to the enticingly bizarre fraud lawsuit surrounding it and the fact that it’s a sandwich in a can. As with Cheeseburger In A Can before it, Candwich sparked the collective imagination of the Internet, which was quickly abuzz with speculation over what a canned sandwich would look/taste like, and whether it was even a real product. The website of Mark One Foods, the maker of Candwich, featured images of cans of PB&J and barbecued-chicken sandwiches, but no clue as to the secrets contained within their tinned walls, nor any information about where to obtain them, because at that time, Candwich was only in the prototype stage. And so the months dragged on, and we were left to imagine, and eventually forget, the Candwich’s potential.
Then a couple of weeks ago, as if by magic, a box from Mark One Foods appeared, with four actual, ostensibly edible canned sandwiches nestled inside. A mixture of glee, anticipation, and slight fear rippled throughout the A.V. Club offices as we all flashed back to that moment when we popped the top on our canned cheeseburger—which is really just another kind of sandwich in a can—to reveal the soggy, mealy horrors within. Unable to wait for the rest of the office to gather so we could videotape the proceedings, we tore into a can, and quickly decided to leave the camera in its case and tell everyone to stay at their desks, for this is the disappointment that awaited them:
Not a sandwich in a can, so much as sandwich fixins in a can: 1-ounce squeezable packets of smooth peanut butter and grape jelly, a cellophane-wrapped piece of bread akin to a hot-dog bun, a knife for cutting/spreading, a “candy surprise,” (Laffy Taffy), and an inedible Fresh-Pak. Less disgusting than a fully assembled, likely soggy, tube-shaped PB&J, perhaps, but just as dispiriting. Maybe more. It’s like opening your school lunchbox only to discover Mom just threw in two slices of bread and a can of tuna fish, with a note reading, “You take it from here.”
So Mark One didn’t embrace the sandwich convenience factor to its fullest, soggiest degree; the Candwich is still sorta convenient, in that it has a long shelf life—perfect for emergency food storage, as the promotional materials point out—and protects its precious cargo within a hermetically sealed tennis-ball can that “offers convenience and protection while backpacking, camping, biking, and other activities.” So assuming your post-apocalypse menu requires PB&J sandwiches and/or you’re so anxious to get to backpacking that you don’t have time to make a sandwich and throw it in some Gladware, then Candwich is your ideal product, you weirdo.
And in some ways, Candwich is actually less convenient than your standard homemade PB&J sandwich: All the extra packaging aside, the hot-dog bun is unsliced, presumably to extend its already unnaturally long shelf life, so you have to pry it apart with the included plastic butter knife. This results in a crumbly mess—the bread is very brittle—that only gets worse when you try to spread the sticky peanut butter and jelly atop it. The Candwich packaging enthuses that “Kids love them,” but it’s likely most kids asked to assemble their own Candwich would likely give up and just go for the Laffy Taffy instead.
The taste: If you’ve had a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, it should be pretty easy to imagine eating a Candwich: Just envision that sandwich, but made using a hot-dog bun that’s been sitting out for a couple hours. The bread is the real problem here: It’s soft but not moist, with a chemically induced freshness that makes it seem stale when it isn’t. It disintegrates easily, which means lots of bread crumbs mixed in with your smooth PB&J mélange. The ratio of bread to filling is also off, resulting in a lot of subpar bread and not enough ooey-gooey filling. It’s not a bad sandwich, per se, but when dealing with a sandwich as idiot-proof as the PB&J, any flaws seem much more glaring.
• “The sandwich wasn’t exactly awful. The bread was definitely the worst part, stale and with a strange tang. There wasn’t much jelly or peanut butter, and what there was tasted like it had soaked into the crust. The whole thing tasted like a sandwich that had been left on the counter too long, squished, and then thrown into my lunch bag. Just like Mom used to make.”
• “I don’t think Candwich is as bad as you say—it’s pretty standard bargain-basement PB&J on a hot-dog bun. Wait, I just convinced myself. That’s pretty bad.”
• “So basically, the makers of Candwich have found a way to make a peanut-butter sandwich take up more space in your kids’ lunchboxes without any added freshness, flavor, or fun. Good job, Candwich.”
• “I guess I admire the idea of making the little brats do the assembly work themselves, but really, how long does it take to make a sandwich at home? I guess hunting down a piece of Laffy Taffy and throwing it into their lunch bag would take an extra three seconds or so.”
• “Say what you want, though, this isn’t remotely as nasty as cake in a can, bacon in a can, hamburger in a can, etc. Its primary crime is being boring, not bad. They really should have livened it up by having some novelty snakes leap out at you when you open the can.”
• “I’ve eaten some cheap-ass white bread, and this is cheap white bread. It tastes like it would last forever. Time-capsule bread.”
• “The bread is super-dry and kinda crumbs up in your mouth, and the proportion of bread to peanut butter is distressing, but other than that, it’s just a generic PB&J. Very generic.”
• “I don’t understand how this is an improvement on a homemade PB&J.”
Where to get it: Currently the only Candwich variety available is the grape PB&J version we got, which you can buy on the Mark One website in either four-pack ($12) or 24-pack ($72) quantities. Strawberry PB&J and the intriguing-sounding barbecued-chicken varieties are supposedly in the works.