Would you like a frozen, sealed, crustless sandwich? If you responded on the affirmative side, then you’re in luck! The J.M. Smucker Company makes Uncrustables, which are just that. They make peanut butter and jelly on white or whole wheat bread, but also peanut butter and honey. They were invented as a) rivals to Lunchables and b) as a way to save parents time. We all know how making a pb&j is quite the involved, lengthy process! I was surprised that such a product was created and has met great success. The sandwich is many ways seems to epitomize the dominant American bread culture. As I researched them for a paper I’ve been writing I came across a range of interesting literature such as work to develop bread without a crust and that according to a survey completed by a food enzyme company, 66% of consumers judge the freshness of bread my squeezing it. (Its advertisement thus says, “Don’t fail the squeeze test.”)
I find it difficult to imagine a comprehensive future vision of bread culture in the United States because of the varying economic statuses, geographic locations, and diets of those who live here. I found myself wanting everyone to make his or her own whole-grain bread, but having to remember that that is not realistic. I also began to think that as nutritionally deficient and nasty as some of the bread products sold in stores are, they’re nothing compared to soda and candy, thus I ended up thinking that we ought to pick our battles and not pick one with bread—at least it fills you up somewhat. On the other hand, bread is different because if you choose to eat a candy bar you know (I hope) that you are eating something quite unhealthy. I sense that many unhealthy bread products, however, are perceived as being healthier than they are. The peanut butter and honey sandwiches, for example, contain honey spread instead of pure honey and both contain added sweeteners. It’s a quandary as to how to realistically improve the manner in which people consume bread in the United States as well as its nutritional value, while also addressing larger issues of hunger and more destructive consumption habits. As a start, let your lunch not come from the freezer!