Hey, it’s National Sandwich Day (Nov. 3)! I’ll bet some of you nearly let the occasion slip by unnoticed. (Who makes up these days anyway)? The Chicks take this opportunity to wax nostalgic about school lunches, sharing with friends, and lunchbox treats. So, PB&J — yay or nay?
As a kid, my favorite sandwich to find in my lunchbox was peanut butter and jelly. That was if my mom made it. If I packed my own lunch, it became peanut butter with sliced sweet pickles – sweet like jelly, except with a crunch. I don’t remember ever trading lunches with a classmate, but if I had two cookies and my lunch partner had none I would share. What can I say? I was a sweet kid. My main character, party planner Liv McKay, bravely tracks down killers to prove her friends innocent of murder, while usually getting herself into trouble along the way. What sandwich would best represent her? A hero, of course — with a pickle on the side!
My favorite grade-school sandwich was the classic PB&J on white bread. No crusts cut off for me; my mom was all, “It’s rough in the real world! You’re going to have to learn to cut your own crusts off!” (That isn’t true. She never said that. But she didn’t cut my crusts off, either, so she might have been thinking it.) Later, I graduated to baloney and mustard — also on white bread. Which, I mean, really? That’s not even food! For dessert, I got one of those Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies — Every. Single. Time. (Also not food.) Although there are many times I can’t pick a favorite, I’m proud to say I do have a favorite sandwich! The deli down the hill from our house makes a sandwich with turkey, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, sprouts and avocado with a balsamic vinegar drizzle. It’s heaven! Even without the Little Debbie snack cake chaser.
Back then, I ate school lunches served in those trays where every food item had its own little square, and there weren’t many sandwiches involved. On the weekends, though, I’d request Fluffernutter—peanut butter and marshmellow fluff on white bread. (You literally cannot whistle right afterwards. Not that you were planning to end your next Fluffernutter experience with a good whistle, but now you know.) These days, my all-time favorite sandwich is avocado, tomatoes, light cream cheese, and sprouts on wheat bread. I do not remember the last time I had one of those because I never remember to buy sprouts, plus tomatoes (cruelly! for I love them so!) make my throat hurt now. But in an ideal world, I’d have that every day. And, since we’ve veered into an imaginary world, it would also have no calories.
I always wanted to bring tomato sandwiches to school like Harriet the Spy, but nooooo…my mom insisted on my having the dread school hot lunch every single week from first grade through sixth. That meant I couldn’t sit with all my friends, the “cold-lunchers,” who sat on the other side of the cafeteria with their cool Mary Poppins and Mrs. Beasley and red-plaid lunch boxes. Sometimes I dumped my gross brick meat loaf or American chop suey or mock (and I do mean MOCK) pizza–don’t even get me started on Fish Stick Fridays–in the trash so I could sneak over to the cold lunch side. My friends always shared their Fritos and Ring Dings and even their PB&Js. Now my favorite sandwich is a BLT (yay, tomatoes, Cynthia and Harriet!!) on white toast with super-crispy bacon and extra mayo. And if I never see another disgusting blob of butterscotch pudding again in my entire life, that is freaking fine with me.
I’m the rare American who’s never been a fan of PB&J sandwiches. I’ve always felt like that makes me some kind of U.S.A. freak, but there you have it. I like peanut butter. I like jelly. I like bread. Just not all three together. I do have a vivid memory of one particular sandwich from my childhood. It was the summer of second grade. I was in day camp, and my mother would pack me the most elaborate lunches. On this particular day, she made me a baloney sandwich on a roll with lettuce, tomato, and so much mayo it left grease stains on the brown paper bag. It must have been a rainy day because I see myself sitting in a school gym with my delicious, over-the-top sandwich. I also remember a chocolate-covered marshmallow rabbit in that lunch bag. In retrospect, that bunny must have been an Easter leftover. That didn’t make it any less delicious.
Readers, drop us a note in the comments below!
What’s your fave ingredients to slip between two slices of white or wheat? And is your favorite sammy the same now as when you were a kid?