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, while some ate a banana and peanut butter sandwich, or banana and mayonnaise sandwich, 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 serve any bread on the side of our whatever, we seem to prefer bread on both sides of our whatever.

Pineapple and Mayonnaise Sandwich
Sheri Castle

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. What else should we do if a loaf of bread is on the counter and a jar of mayo is in the fridge?

In many households, it was a can of pineapple rings, a taste of the exotic that would keep in the cupboard for months. In 1906 James Doles built a new canning facility with machines that could peel, core, and cut pineapples into uniform rings. His goal was to put canned pineapple in grocery stores across the land, and he did. Cans of pineapple rings were available in even small-town groceries and country stores. We appreciated the convenience and liked the taste. Pineapple consistently ranks among the most popular canned and jarred fruit purchases.

It is doubtful that anyone documented the first pineapple sandwich, but I think it was someone who wanted a banana sandwich and didn't have a banana, so they 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 good. (Some households use Miracle Whip. They really do. Ask around.)

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, give one a go, despite any misgivings. There was a time people didn't put avocado on toast.

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