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March, 2008:

Trekking Mahlzeiten Cheeseburger In Der Dose (Cheeseburger in a can)

Achtung, baby!

The Internet is completely freaking awesome. And full of stupid crap.

But, let’s face it. Even the most stupid crap available on the interweb is still pretty freaking awesome.

Case in point: the first time I saw a mentioning of a Cheeseburger in a freaking can.

I’d been working my contacts (all 2 of them) in the land of Germans trying to figure out a psuedo-legal non-pain-in-the-ass way to get one into my grubby little hands to no avail. In the process, I was scooped by The Onion, who was able to snag one on eBay from a military-type person. I had failed. But eventually, prevailed, and got reamed in the pooper on eBay in order to actually follow through with my original goal of eating this monstrosity.

So, while I will be far from the first, I will obviously not be the last person in the US with a dumb food blog to experience this fine piece of German Engineering. 85th percentile, here I come!!!

Just as an aside, it should be known that this is really supposed to be a camping/MRE-type item, not something you’d just stock to grab for a snack. This is a hardcore, outdoors-y bomb shelter-style cheeseburger. In a can.

Here it is in its natural state; the can was actually bigger than I thought it would be, which was nice:

20080324-009 [tje]

In shaking it around a bit, you can hear things kinda shuffle around. Seems like it’s actually dry inside, which is a good thing for our purposes. Well, mine anyway. I’m sure you’d prefer if it was all squishy-sounding, because you’re sick like that and take pleasure in my pain. Bastards.

If you can’t make it out, the prep directions are as follows: Heat the unopened can in a bain-marie for approx. 10 minutes or take the cold cheeseburger out of the can and heat it in a cooking pot/pan. The cheeseburger may be consumed cold or hot. Once opened, please don’t leave the product in the can.

I’m curious as to what kind of time-frame I’m actually looking at for getting the burger out of the can once opened, and also what would happen if I just threw caution to the wind and left the burger in the can? These are questions that really need answered, but due to the nature (freaking expensive) of the test subject, we’ll just have to leave those questions unanswered.

Also, I guess another good question would be: what the hell is a bain-marie?

Thanks to Wikipedia (it’s on the completely awesome list, by the way, not the stupid crap), I now know that’s it’s just a double boiler. Which gives me a leg up on the competition who have incorrectly just been boiling the whole can. Ah-ha! Exclusivity!

Obviously, this is going to make my sample taste completely awesome and not suck.

One thing I’m going to start trying to do with these “special” (read: awesome) items is do some video coverage. Yes, I have just that much free time on my hands. We’ll see how that pans out.

Here is apparently the proper (although kinda Swedish) method to prepare the Cheeseburger In A Can. Kinda. I’m improvising a bit.

I have to show you the obligatory glamour shot, which in this case is obviously WAY off-base…

20080324-canburgerpress [tje]

Then a video of the unveiling:

Finally an innard shot after being partially eaten:

20080324-canburgerinside[tje]

And, what is probably supposed to be a pickle. A tiny, tiny pickle.

20080324-canburgerpickle [tje]

Texture: It’s completely wrong on so many levels. The buns are on the mushy side, and kinda soak up the canned-cheeseburger cheese and canned-cheeseburger ketchup/mustard/pickle. The patty itself is less like a burger, and more like a tough summer sausage, which was really weird on the first bite. You really gotta tear into it.

Taste: Oddly, much, much better than I expected. My wife even took a bite out of sheer morbid curiosity (after asking if it would make her puke, of course) and gave a resounding “that’s not that bad”. Not to say it’s good though. Again, the majority of it actually tastes kinda like a burger. The bun is very bun-like, the cheese and condiments are all represented, even the tiny, tiny pickle tastes like a pickle. But my wife summed up the taste of the patty best: “It tastes like a Chef Boyardee Meatball”. Again, not horrible by any means, just not quite… Right. Then there’s the slightly metallic aftertaste, that, you know, most likely comes from existing in a can. Nothing horrible, just not a normal cheeseburger thing.

JK Score: 3.5/10 I’m basing this on the fact that it’s a flippin’ canned cheeseburger. It really wasn’t that bad. In terms of things that could go wrong, I think it held up fairly well. If I was stranded with a bunch of lost hikers, and they were all busting out their granola and sticks and leaves after 8 days, I’d be very proud to pop open one of these bad boys and eat it in front of them and piss them all off royally. As a testament to how much it didn’t actually suck, (but more to how much I paid for the damn thing), I did actually finish it. And I’m flying tomorrow, so I’m putting a lot of faith in the product staying inside of my body. Also, I’m officially introducing half-points into the system. It’s a new day here at TJE. An new, glorious day filled with canned cheeseburgers, videos, and half points.

I’m very easily amused.

Wendy’s Spicy Baconator

Times I’m glad I’m not an Orthodox Jew:

Christmas: Because, hello… Presents. And Santa. He’s awesome. So much love for Santa.

Celine Dion Concerts: Because really, what’s more beautiful.

Saturdays: Because really when else can you bowl. Also, I enjoy touching buttons, turning on lights, driving cars, etc. during my day off.

Yom Kippur: Anytime I wear white, I usually wind up with some sort of red sauce on it. Even if I’m not eating anything with red sauce. It invariably… just… happens. I can’t explain it. Also, I’m all about my leather shoes.

…And finally, whenever Wendy’s modifies and unleashes on this fair Earth a new and improved Baconator.

This time, Wendy’s hath wrought The Spicy Baconator.

Let’s face facts here: the Baconator is already completely freaking awesome. Let me count the ways:

Way 1: ITS NAME IS THE BACONATOR. (Not be confused with Robert Paulson). That’s brilliant. What’s more awesome than being Baconate… ed? The name strikes fear in the hearts of all and brings with it great implied promises of bacon-related fatality, leaving a swath of baconated ruins in its path. All hail the Baconator.

Way 2: THE BACONATOR HAS A SHITLOAD OF BACON ON IT. To be accurate, it has 6 pieces. That’s like 3 times more bacon than 2 pieces of bacon. That’s a lot of bacon. Little known fact: If you’re completely insane, like my friend Chris, you can actually order a Baconator with EXTRA FREAKING BACON. This has only been known to work once (the one time it was tried, oddly enough) at the Wendys off I65 in Brentwood, TN. I’ll be honest: I cried a little when I saw it. It was glorious.

Way 3: It’s the official burger of the Canadian Football League. No, I’m serious. And if you know any Canadians, you’ll know that they don’t F around when choosing an official football burger. Only the most awesome will make the cut. Enter, THE BACONATOR. It’s cooler in caps.

Way 4: SU NOMBRE ES “EL BACONATOR”. For reals. Even en español. How awesome is that name?

(the answer is: completely)

So, what do you do with something that’s taken the Awesome Bar and not only kicked it up a few notches, but has also snuck into the stadium overnight, stolen the Awesome Bar, flown it to L.A. to be dipped in gold and encrusted in diamonds? (I’m assuming that’s what they do in L.A.)

Well, you put jalapeños on it, swap your mayo out for some chipotle sauce, and swap out the regular cheese for super-awesome pepper jack cheese. That’s what.

You put forth that invitation to behold something very beautiful that can potentially kick your ass as well. (I’m looking at you, Crush from American Gladiators.)

YOU CHALLENGE THE PEOPLE.

Challenge, I say!

…And I humbly accept.

As always, the glamour shot:

And the actual product:

20080311-baconator[tje]

And the dissection:

20080311-baconator inside[tje]

If you look closely, you’ll see that they were very dead-on with the bacon count: the number of bacons is definitely 6. This specimen was a little light on the sauce, which definitely hurt the overall package.

Texture: It’s a Wendy’s burger, nothing out of the ordinary in the mouth-feel department. If you’re a hot wuss, you might be sweating it a little bit with the jalapeño slices, but it’s really not as spicy as I’d hoped.

Taste: The real make or break here is the chipotle sauce in lieu of the may/ketchup/mustard on the original. You’ll either love it or hate it. It’s kind of a sweet/spicy southwest thing going on, similar to the southwest sauce you’d get with an Awesome Blossom, only sweeter and more tomato-y is the only way I can explain it. It’s different, but I’m down with it. It would have been much better with more of the sauce, actually.

JK Score: 8/10 The Baconator demands respect, even in spicy form. I would have gone as far as a 9 here, but the one I got was a little dry in both the meat department and the sauce department. Definitely worth another shot, and BACON-Y.

Grant’s Canned Haggis

This one’s for you, Nate.

I’m not even going to take the time to write anything witty or remotely intentionally funny, because this is canned flippin’ Haggis. I mean, really. It’s Haggis. In a can.

Nate actually requested “canned meats”. I was really hoping to get a hold of the infamous German Canned Cheeseburger, but The Onion beat me to it (damn their impeccable eBay timing, and budget and stuff).

So, knowing their source, I just took to looking for canned crap on eBay. Lo and behold, after a quick search, I had a myriad of canned exotic crap in front of me. Being the dumbass I am, I went for the Haggis, which oddly was in Scotland. Funny, that.

So, $11 and 6 days later (random fact, it takes 5 days for a can of Haggis to make its way from Scotland, through customs, and to Illinois) I was in possession of my prized winnings.

20080303-haggiscan

Per the unpacking directions, I open both ends (their bolding, not mine, it seems important though) and “carefully pushed through”. The net result was:

20080303-haggisloaf

The ever-faithful TJE mascot, Boris was quick to investigate, since I’m pretty sure he assumed I’d opened the can for him. I see how he could be confused. It definitely was more similar to his food than mine.

20080303-haggisdog

The smell out of the can was immediately “spoiled Dinty Moore beef stew with a LOT of pepper”. I’m not sure if this is possible to re-create in actuality though, since Dinty Moore has what amounts to an indefinite shelf life. And we all know how hard pepper is to come by. Or something.

For those who aren’t privy to this culinary wonder of the land of Scots, Haggis, traditionally, according to Wikipedia is:
There are many recipes, most of which have in common the following ingredients: sheep’s ‘pluck’ (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal’s stomach for approximately three hours.

“In fact, I think most Scottish cuisine is based on a dare.”

That theory is sound.

In this case, the ingredients are listed as the following:
Lamb Lungs (45%), Oatmeal (19%), Lamb Suet, Scottish Water, Onion, Salt, Spices

I’m assuming the missing 36% is love, or the souls of children, since nothing else is numbered out.

As far as prep goes, instead of taking the easy route, like I usually do, I figured I’d give this internationally-traveled dish the proper preparation it deserved. Plus, I didn’t feel I needed to give canned Haggis any reason to be nastier than it could be.

So, I skipped over the microwave instructions (yes, they were there), and moved onto the Traditional Method:
Empty contents into a saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally until warmed through. For a real Scottish flavour, add a “wee dram” of whiskey before serving.

NOW we’re talking. Anything I can cook and add whiskey to, as part of the recommended prep method? I’m on board. I dumped the can into my trusty saucepan (I had to have the wife tell me which thingy that was), warmed ‘er up, and added an ounce or so of Macallan 12 Year just before serving it up. I’m assuming an ounce is a wee dram.
20080303-haggispan

Dumped it onto the plate, and headed into the belly (lungs, and suet) of the beast.

20080303-haggisplate (2)

Texture: Squishy. It makes a squishy sound coming out of the can. It makes a squishy sound when you’re cooking it. It makes a squishy sound when you’re putting it on the plate. It makes a squishy sound when you dig into it, and while you chew it. The biggest texture in this one is the oatmeal, which is nice and meat-soggy. The actual chunks of assorted meat are pretty tough and chewy, but they’re ground up enough that there’s nothing too huge meat-wise to get caught up on. Thankfully.

Taste: I really can’t fully describe it. My mouth can’t get beyond the texture. This particular specimen is very heavy on pepper-type spices, that’s the first thing you get. And a lot of onion. And cinnamon. Which I’m sure is there to mask the fact that you’re eating frikkin’ haggis. Beyond that, it’s really kinda bland, honestly. it leaves a funky aftertaste, but one that’s easily covered by beer (I’m killing it with Staropramen from Prague, getting all international in this bitch). I’ve literally taken 5-6 good-sized bites while writing this. Not because I particularly love it, just because I can’t figure out any coherent way to describe the taste. I went through a similar quandary the last time I had a haggis-type dish (Haggis Fritters at the Scottish Arms in St. Louis). I couldn’t figure out if I liked it or not, so I kept trying them until they were gone. In that case, they were fried, so it covered up a lot of the “essence” of the Haggis.

Let’s just say this; it tastes exactly how it smells. If you get close enough to smell it, you’re pretty much there.

JK Score: 2/10 Since I can’t really make up my mind on this, I’d probably try it again, given the chance. Am I going to seek it out? No. I was able to successfully keep it in my stomach for the duration of this article, and I didn’t gag at all during the process. I could see myself actually being OK with this as an actual food item if I was raised on it.