The South's Most Beloved Sandwich Starts With a Can of Pineapple Rings
Top with a dollop of mayonnaise.
Most of us grew up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Some of us grew up eating banana and peanut butter, or banana and mayonnaise, or all three. Some of us grew up with pineapple sandwiches. Yes, we really did. Ask around. Some of us still enjoy them. Yes, we really do. Ask around.
Southerners are known for making sandwiches out of unlikely things. There are collard sandwiches and bean sandwiches and so forth. Whereas some people would simply serve any bread on the side of our whatever, we seem to prefer bread on both sides of our whatever.
Some sandwiches are the result of forethought and planning. Take pulled pork, for example. You don’t just happen to suddenly remember you’ve been pit-cooking a whole hog out back all night, so you might as well pull some off and make a sandwich. Others, however, are spontaneous sandwiches of opportunity. We have a loaf of bread on the counter and a jar of mayo in the fridge, so now what else do we have?
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In many households, it was a can of pineapple rings, a taste of the exotic that would keep in the cupboard for months. Way back in 1906 James Doles built a new canning facility with machines that could peel, cored, and cut pineapples into uniform rings. His goal was to put canned pineapple in grocery stores across the land. He did. Cans of pineapple rings were available in even small town groceries and country stores. We appreciated the convenience and liked the taste. Even now pineapple consistently ranks among the most popular canned and jarred fruit purchases.
Doubtless no one documented the first pineapple sandwich, but I think it was someone who wanted a banana sandwich and didn’t have a banana, so he or she opened a can of pineapple rings instead. Based on a fondness for banana sandwiches and canned fruit salads topped with a dollop of mayonnaise, the combination of the sweet fruit and the savory, slightly tangy mayonnaise sounded pretty darn good. (Some households use Miracle Whip. They really do. Ask around. Although if you think the current brouhaha over putting pineapple on pizza will stir up heated controversy, don’t get Southerners started on mayonnaise versus salad dressing on their pineapple sandwiches.)
Rings are the way to go for a pineapple sandwich. Crushed and chunked pineapple is too juicy, even when drained, and no amount of mayo will hold those little pieces in place on the bread. Plus, rings are traditional.
If you’ve not enjoyed a pineapple sandwich in a while, it’s time for another. If you’ve never had one before, give one a go, despite any misgivings. People use to not put avocados on toast either.