Taste Test: Canned Bread, Canned Cheese, Pickled Sausage

Due to popular demand and the fact that we love
trying weird foods and candies, The A.V. Club will now regularly feature
"Taste Tests." Feel free to suggest disgusting and/or delicious new
edibles for future installments: E-mail us at tastetest@theonion.com.

B&M; Bread In A Can, Red Feather Brand
Processed Cheese In A Can, Pickled Sausage

I'm going to start this Taste Test off with a
quote from one of our testers: "Canned bread? What is this, 1945?" I checked, just
to be completely sure, and it isn't. And then I asked myself, "Did they can
bread in 1945?" Answer: probably not. But it does seem like some sort of World
War II food, or at least a Cold War remnant. But as far as I can tell, canned
bread hasn't been around that long, and there's only one company (at least in
America) that seems to make it: B&M.; (They also make baked beans.) I'd
heard of it vaguely, but forgotten it existed until we got two e-mails,
practically back-to-back, from readers—thanks, Spencer and Matt—who
wanted us to order some. So we did, from a site called Mainegoodies.com.
Apparently people from Maine like canned bread.

But is canned bread alone enough? Probably not. I
already had a can of processed cheese on my desk from reader Rick, the same
kind soul who sent us the horrible
canned bacon
we ate (or picked at) two weeks ago. And while browsing
the Maine Goodies website, I happened across a disgusting-looking jar of
pickled sausage and figured "There's a party tray. Bread, cheese, and sausage.
Why not?"

In case the pictures don't represent well enough,
I'll mention that the bread can was pretty small, like three stacked tuna cans.
The cheese was essentially the same size as a tuna can, and has a pretty
amazing looking vintage label. I'm guessing they haven't changed it in however
long they've been making processed cheese in a can. But this isn't a history
lesson, this is a motherfucking Taste Test.

The taste: In short: The bread was almost universally
reviled, but tasted considerably better when heated, and the cheese met with
halfway-decent shrugs when cold, and revulsion when heated. Before further
tasting notes, though, let's talk a little more about the consistency. The
bread is heavy. Very, very heavy. The net weight is a pound, and considering
it's about a quarter the size of a standard loaf of bread, you can imagine the
density. It slid out of the can complete with can marks on it, like when you
remove refried beans from a can.

Opening the cheese can inspired audible gasps,
because it was sort of wet-looking, and much more solid than any of us had
predicted. And white. We were thinking yellow. That tiny can boasts eight
ounces of cheese, so you can imagine the density there, too.

Finally, the sausage, which looked like a weird
lab experiment, with chunky, fatty sausage (beef, pork, and chicken—in
case you want to eat the entire animal kingdom in one bite) floating around
with big chunks of garlic. I actually had medium-sized hopes for the sausage,
because sausage is good, and pickling things—adding tons more
salt—only makes them better. But it was pretty disappointing,
particularly the consistency, which we should've figured would be mushy. Mushy,
mushy, mushy. Like crappy hot dogs soaked in brine. The garlic and vinegar
tastes were so strong that it didn't really matter if the meat was tasty. Who
could tell?

The bread fared just slightly better, probably
because—shock coming up—it's pretty natural. Ingredients: water,
whole-wheat flour, molasses, dextrose, rye flour, whey, degerminated yellow
corn meal, baking soda, buttermilk, salt. That said, it was very dark and
bitter—especially considering each serving contains 15g of sugar. Nobody
liked it straight out of the can very much, either the regular or raisin
varieties. But once we heated it up a bit in the toaster oven, it got more
palatable. Not as good as pretty much any kind of fresh or bagged bread you'll
ever eat, but palatable. Is it good for camping trips? I dunno. I'd just get a
loaf of Brownberry myself—that shit lasts for a week anyway. And
preservatives taste awesome.

The cheese greeted heat the opposite way. Cold,
straight out of the can, it wasn't bad—it pretty much tasted exactly like
those little Handi-Snacks cheese-and-cracker packs you got when your mom still
loved you. Funny thing about this stuff, too: It's actually cheese, not "cheese
food." Funnier thing: It contains butter. Along with some chemicals and shit,
too. But when we made the mistake of heating it up... Eww. Not good. You'd think
queso, but you'd be wrong. It got ugly very quickly.

In Chang's absence, Genevieve had to play food
rebel, so she concocted a sandwich featuring all of today's ingredients. It
should come as no surprise that anyone who tried it thought it was just about
the worst sandwich they'd ever eaten.

Office reactions:

Canned Bread

— "Is this more prison food?"

— "The bread smells like wicker."

— "Bran by itself is generally gross, but
this tastes like the blandest, crappiest bran muffin ever, crammed into a can.
It could be a lot worse, and if I continued after one bite, it would get a lot worse."

— "It tastes exactly like a wicker basket that once
housed some raisins."

— "It's like moist, spoiled Raisin Bran."

— "Lots of molasses and lightly sweet.
Slightly metallic taste from being cooked and kept in the can."

— "Tastes a little better when warm, but
overall, it's like bad gingerbread."

— "Dense. Like slicing up a long hockey puck
filled with raisins."

— "It
was so dense and brick-like coming out of the can, and a lot more moist than I
thought it would be. Not a good sign."

— "Once
it's heated up, though, it's not bad at all. More like a really bland muffin
than bread."

— "If a nuke went off and I had to live in a
bomb shelter subsisting off of this, I could last a couple months, probably."

Canned Cheese

— "I'm gonna grout my tub with this."

— "As Americans, we can't be mortified by
processed cheese, because we fucking invented it. American cheese? Velveeta?
That 'cheese' that's in those cheese-and-crackers packs? This tastes like that
last one. And because I'm American, I don't find the taste all that bad."
[General Patton? Who let you in here?]

— "It tasted a lot like
warm Gak if you were
to spread Gak over crackers."

— "Not
much different taste-wise than most processed cheesestuffs. But the texture
isn't as smooth and creamy, it's more crumbly."

— "Not
spreadable or sliceable. It will melt, but firms up very quickly. Rubbery
texture."


"Tastes like Velveeta or a very mild cheddar. Dull."

— "Imagine
being invited over for cheese and crackers and they pull this out. You'd think
you were being punk'd."

— "I can't really figure out what you would
use this for: It's not the right consistency for spreading, it gets even worse
when it's heated up, and it's not good enough to just eat on its own out of the
can. I guess maybe you could cut it up and put it on toothpicks if you were
having a white-trash cocktail party, but there's not much use beyond its
novelty."

— "The cheese had the texture of
an eraser when cold, and then of rubber or some kind of synthetic polymer when
heated."

Pickled Sausage

— "Everything about this looks gross, and it
pretty much is gross. Chunks of sausage floating in vinegar and garlic? Maybe
it'd be good heated, but out of the can, no thanks. And the consistency of the
sausage is pretty gross too."

— "Ugh,
not good. Very not good."

— "Tastes
like an uncooked hot dog that's been sitting in vinegar. The texture is about
the same as an uncooked hot dog too, kinda slimy yet firm. No, just bad. Bad."

— "It might be better warmed up, but then I'd
have to eat more of it to find out, so I'll never know."

— "I've always been wary about eating cold
meat from brine, and this confirms my suspicions."

— "If I didn't know this was sausage, I doubt
I would have guessed it was a meat product. More like a sponge soaked in
vinegar."

— "One bite and I wished I had never been
born."

Where to find them: Where we did, at
Mainegoodies.com. Though none of these things really count as "goodies."

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