While most of us think of canning food as a cheap and durable method of food preservation, this hasn’t always been the case. Let’s be serious for a brief moment and take a quick look at the history of canning, before we tackle some of the more dubious canned contents that exist today!
The canning of food was first invented during the Napoleonic Wars, when the French Military offered up a prize of 12,000 francs to whoever could invent a new method of food preservation. The award went to Frenchman Nicholas Appert and his method of preserving food in glass jars, but due to their fragility, they were soon replaced with tin or wrought-iron canisters or ‘cans’. The canning process was slow and laborious, as every can had to made by hand, so they were actually something of a status symbol in the mid 19th century.
Ironically though, it was another 30 years before the can opener was invented! (Something which Bonzer have since perfected – in fact, one of our signature Bonzer Can Openers actually survived 70 years in the Antarctic!)
Canned food is expected to last from one to five years on average, though in reality it can often survive for much longer. In 1974, canned food from the steamboat The Bertrand, which sunk in the Missouri River in 1865 was retrieved and tested by the National Food Processors Association and was found to be perfectly edible.
So, canned food that is over a century old can still be safe to eat, but unfortunately some of the more recent specimens available may not share this claim. Here, we take a look at five canned foods that simply defy belief!
Image credit: This photo, “Candwich Peanut Butter and Grape Jelly” is copyright (c) 2011 theimpulsivebuy and made available under: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Candwich – the canned sandwich. Yes. Really. We all know how difficult it can be to make a sandwich, so why waste your precious time pushing two bits of bread together, when you could simply open your Candwich instead? With classic fillings such as Peanut Butter & Grape Jelly or Honey BBQ Chicken, the Candwich attempts to fill a hole in the market and also your stomach. Unfortunately, it fails at both, is completely over-engineered and oh, did we forget to mention that once you open the can you actually still have to make the sandwich! Contents: a small hoagie roll, a packet of peanut butter, a packet of jelly, a plastic knife, a handi-wipe and a piece of ‘Laffy Taffy’. Ok then!
#4: Grant’s – Haggis Curry
For those few of you unfamiliar with the recipe for Haggis, it’s a traditional Scottish dish that is essentially a sheep’s minced vital organs lovingly served up within it’s stomach lining. But how can we improve on that? What can we put that inside? Ah yes, a can!
Grant’s offer up canned Haggis with a twist as this one is curried. In fact, that may not be bad thing. Anything to hide the smell of ‘Lamb lobes’ (45%)!
#3: Chris Godfrey – All In One
Yep, that’s right. 12 courses in one can. Although to be fair, these dishes at least sound much more appetising than the other entries mentioned here. Innovative designer Chris Godfrey invented this canned creation so that ‘the average Joe can dine like royalty, without the washing up.’ So there’s no need for kitchen utensils here, all you have to do is recycle. The 12 course meal in a can contains the following (flattened) dishes:
- A selection of local cheeses with sourdough bread
- Pickled Kobe beef with charred strawberry
- Ricotta ravioli with a soft egg yolk
- Shitake mushroom topped with filled peppers
- Halibut poached in truffle butter in a coconut crepe
- Risotto foraged ramps, prosciutto and fresh parmesan
- French onion soup with fresh thyme and gruyere cheese
- Roast pork belly and celeriac root puree
- Palate cleanser, pear ginger juice
- Rib eye steak with grilled mustard greens
- Crack pie with milk ice cream on a vanilla tuile
- French canele with a malt barley and hazelnut latte
#2: Armour – Pork Brains In Milk Gravy
Image credit: This photo, “Pork Brains In Mik Gravy” is copyright (c) 2008 num lok and made available under: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
Pork brains anyone? Hmmm… no thanks. But wait, why didn’t you mention they come in milk gravy! Bring ‘em my way and make it snappy! These sumptuous slices of cerebellum are actually surprisingly expensive at around $25 for four cans, but the real cost however is to your health. With a cholesterol level that is over 1000% of your recommended daily allowance, you should technically only eat these about once every three years. Pigs might fly. We would recommend… never.
#1: Sweet Sue – Canned Whole Chicken (Without Giblets)
Image credit: This photo, “April2009 024” is copyright (c) 2009 Tracy O’Connor and made available under: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/
In at number one on our list of canned crimes against cuisine is the unbelievable Canned Whole Chicken (Without Giblets) from the commercial kitchens of Sweet Sue. On closer inspection though, it becomes obvious that Sue probably doesn’t deserve her name, as she spends her days squashing small chickens into jelly filled cans! In France, you can buy canned duck confit, which whilst a little odd, can be delicious. In America, you get this. Perhaps to improve the taste, they should have left the giblets in.
At first glance, it’s surprising that a 50 oz can apparently serves 15 people, but once you open it up you soon realise that’s actually rather generous. The real challenge is in finding 15 people with the courage to tuck in! If you have a very strong stomach and would like to see one brave/crazy man eat a whole can’s worth, then cautiously watch this video. (NOTE: You have been warned!)
So, as you can see there are many modern horrors that can be found frozen in time on your local supermarket shelves, but to be balanced, the canning of food can often be a very effective way of preserving food’s nutritious ingredients. Just be careful you don’t open a can of worms…
If you’re having a tough time breaking in to one of these canned catastrophes or perhaps you have more pleasant contents to consume, you might like to invest in one of our tried and tested Bonzer Can Openers. The industry standard for opening up a whole new world of culinary delights!
If you have any questions about this article, our products, or perhaps you know of even greater canning calamities, then please contact us via email or call us on 01825 765 511.
If you found this article engaging (if a little repulsive) you may like to read some of our other interesting posts. We promise they aren’t so difficult to digest: