10 Strangest Canned Food You Never Knew Existed
Canned food has come a long way since first conceptions and early execution, initially created to transport and especially preserve different foods in the early and mid-19th century that previously wouldn’t last or travel well, changing the history of availability of sustenance. In current times, not only has the process greatly advanced and been nearly perfected, but so has what we have canned. Nowadays there are a wide myriad of available canned options, ranging from your normal vegetable or soup, to the mildly odd such as canned bread and of course that enigma which is Spam, to the highly, highly questionable. (Such as, well, all the items featured on our list.) Get ready to learn more than you ever wanted to know about various canned meats, entire meals, and even edible bugs.
10. Pork Brains
We’re starting off nice and strong here! There are certainly a wide variety of slightly stranger “various meats” available in canned form, such as elk, beaver, possum, and alligator, which are indeed pretty weird in themselves, but specifically pork brains has got to be one of the most questionable available canned “meat.” (Are brains considered meat technically? We guess so.) Way back when big game meats were relied upon for a more common form of sustenance, it makes at least a bit of sense to have a (thankfully) more distant history of preserved big game meats from deer, bear, reindeer, and the like. But brains? How often are these used in regular, (heck, even gourmet?) cooking? We guess these have no other choice than having to come canned so they’ll last until the next person wants them, (which we wager will be a while.) The only thing we can think of to do with any animal’s canned brains is to have people try it for a dare, cook it into food to trick or prank your friends, or possibly for a very dedicated Halloween party prop. (However, the label here is portraying them mixed in among–we guess–eggs?) Plain old, hum-drum canned pork brains still don’t sound quite like your cup of tea? How about we sweeten the idea by mentioning the brains come canned with “Milk Gravy”? (Whatever that is.) Still no? We don’t blame you. Brains do not belong in a can, let alone brains in milk. What a combination to market to the world.
Keeping in theme with our previously discussed “more exotic meats” topic, rattlesnake in particular is one that brings more than a few questions and concerns to mind. Out of the realm of edible reptiles, the possibility of canned turtle makes some sense since turtle soup is a thing that exists. (Is there canned turtle? After this article, we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s out there.) Additionally, for some reason, even alligator makes a little bit more sense than rattlesnake, since in the south especially there are a few options of different cuts regularly made available, such as steaks as well as frozen nuggets. Snake meat makes us question if it’s really worth the trouble, difficulty, and danger of it in the end. Rattlesnakes in particular are a larger variety of snake, so maybe there is possibly enough meat on them to be worth the harvest? However, with mostly pure muscle, tough scales, and many dozens of tiny, razor-sharp bones that makes up a rattlesnake’s skeleton, it seems like Mother Nature’s way of saying “I don’t think y’all are supposed to eat this.” Yet, humanity went forth and replied, “hold my beer,” and thus rattlesnake meat preserved in fine, tin can goodness is available on the market. (Will we never learn?) –Additionally, we neglected to pay attention to one important detail: aren’t rattlesnakes venomous? Is their meat truly and completely safe for humans? We’re not quite willing to test the theory, personally.
This being dubbed with the great honor and prestigious title of “The Stinkiest Food in the World” should tell you everything you could possibly need to know about this one. It should also be enough to help warn you to stay clear away from this canned “food.” Originating in Sweden, surströmming involves whole, herring fish, (bones, guts, eyes, scales, and all the nasty, grisly bits included.) That doesn’t sound too awful yet, right? Well, these little fishes have been fermented in a fishy juice in their can for at least six months. It ranks as the most rank and foul-smelling option available in the realm of odd canned food, (or in the realm of just about any kind of food, perhaps only closely matched by a durian fruit.) In various videos found online where very brave people are in the situation to taste (if they make it past the smell,) this, er, “delicacy,” they report the taste as still very foul but somehow not quite as bad as it smells. It’s reported to have a briny, fishy, and queer mushy taste, as expected from half-rotted fish. –Although it is lightly, (“lightly”) salted to supposedly “preserve” the fish. I don’t think there’s enough salt in the world to help the reported vile stench that is unleashed when you crack this unassuming, bright yellow and red can. (We just don’t want to even think about what someone’s breath must be like after they sample this!) We’ll stick to having, er, fresher fish, thank you very much, and leave this extremely, smelly canned fish for extreme dare videos.
You read that right–not canned cheese, not canned bread, not canned beef, but a whole a** cheeseburger. It’s perfectly common to buy ready-made cheeseburgers from fast food restaurants, grocery store hot bars, and even convenience stores nowadays, but why on earth does it need to exist in canned form specifically? This particular brand of burger-in-a-can contains all the usual accoutrements and toppings expected to be found in any common cheeseburger, including mustard, ketchup, pickles, and even bacon added in some cans. This sounds like an interesting concept; to make this very popular food easy to stack and transport without any risk of squishing the bun and ingredients, unlike the potential damage found in your average paper wrappers and flimsy cardboard boxes. (Although how desperate does one have to be to need an indestructibly-contained whole a** cheeseburger with them anyway?) According to various photos and video reviews featuring the sad, greasy-looking sandwich however, it looks like it has already been squashed. (And maybe been through a few other unmentionable things.) It also has a feature available to boil it in the can to cook and steam it up. Mmm, nothing like a warmed-up, semi-resembling-a-burger meal! We know all different kinds of burgers are popular, both in flavors and variety of presentation, but we don’t think this version will necessarily take off anytime soon.
6. Whole Chicken
Yet another case of “why on earth would you possibly need an entire (fill in the blank) to be canned?” Yes, regular canned chicken exists, but it’s usually nice white meat that is all cut up and ready to eat, use for recipes, or to make chicken salad. Having a whole chicken canned does not add any convenience whatsoever that canning can typically provide other foods. A fresh whole chicken is just as much work to clean, cook, and deal with the bones as a supposedly “conveniently” canned one. And did we mention that so the tiny chicken body is preserved, it’s coated in a nice, tasty layer of thick grease? If you want to go through the trouble of preparing a (very tiny) whole poultry, we recommend to skip the ooey-gooey, jelly and lard covered canned chicken and just get a fresh or even frozen one. Any version is better, really. Even if the cans came huge with a large, family-sized entire chicken contained in it, it still wouldn’t be worth breaking the can opener out because of the awful preservation process. Sure, we’ve experienced exotic meats on this list so far, but never one so common yet made us exclaim “but why though,” so much.
Out of the very few people around the world that eat and enjoy this delightful…(food?) They no doubt must like it best homemade or at least (relatively) fresh. “Haggis” originates from Scotland and contains such lovely ingredients like: sheep’s heart, liver, lungs, and stomach; onion, oatmeal, suet, and spices. More than one (heck, more than three,) of those ingredients sound very unwelcoming to a regular human’s diet. (For example, “suet”?? Isn’t that bird food?) How desperate to eat haggis does one need to be to opt for it in the immediate form that canning offers? As unappealing as haggis is in the first place, regardless of how it comes, canning this literal intestinal monstrosity does this dish zero favors, making it look as though it is really something straight from a sheep’s stomach. It can be dressed up with different versions and flavors all it wants, but haggis is still, well, haggis in the end. It takes a tough stomach to eat a stomach, (and other organs,) and we’re convinced mixing and canning the mish-mash of haggis does not improve this culture-specific food.
4. Cuitlacoche (Corn Smut)
So far we’ve seen odd. We’ve seen a bit unusual. We’ve experienced canned goods that are definitely a bit strange, questionable, and out there. But this canned food item is just plain gross. There’s no other delicate way to put it. Apart from the smell of the Surströmming, it’s still just actual fish in the end. Originating from Mexico, cuitlacoche, commonly known by the incredibly attractive name “corn smut,” is CORN MOLD. Yes, corn. mold. Made on purpose. To be harvested. To be canned to eat. Again, on purpose. We can hear some of you now, pointing out mushrooms and such are kind of like mold we eat, but no, they are a fungus. Between “fungus,” (sounding natural and scientific,) and “mold,” (sounding diseased and dangerous,) one must admit that “mold” seems like the biggest no-no in the whole “human consumption” category. How did this get discovered? Who thought it would be delicious to taste? Why does it come canned? Who is the market for this (shiver) mold anyway? We’d rather not know too many more details about corn smut. We shall certainly stick to canned corn kernels, hopefully, mold-free.
3. Powdered Horse Milk
This is just weird. The other items on this list are indeed on the exotic side, yet are still viable, edible, more-or-less food-like items. (And apparently there is a market for them.) Regular powdered milk is an extremely common canned good that has a rich and important history. There are quite probably other powered versions of animal milk, such as goat. Sure, we’ll give you that. Goat milk isn’t all too “out there.” But where is the market for ANY horse milk? (Besides to feed foals and colts possibly?) Although the way this is packaged, in a fairly small can, with instructions written in this way, makes it seem like it is possible for human consumption. (After looking into it, we’re still not sure. Anyone know what the particular target market is for this stuff?) If it was made to feed foals and colts, wouldn’t it be in a more industrial-sized can? It’s still a bit of an unexpected find to discover when scouring the web for the weirdest canned food. Well, for horses or humans, either way, fear not! This particular brand’s cheery label proudly claims that it contains “100% Horse Milk–No Ponies”! –Is horse milk better than pony milk? Is there not a market for pony milk? You’d think there would be, based on what we’ve included on this list so far. Anyway, we certainly wouldn’t be surprised by much at this point.
Sometimes foods that come in cans can become slimy, chewy, or rubbery over time or as a product from the preservation process. How about we offer a can that contains something that’s slimy, chewy, AND rubbery before it’s even canned?? The preservation and canning process can’t possibly make that any worse at least, right? (We’re guessing that’s not the case here.) Coming with or without shells, (your preference, although, why does anyone want the shells?) escargot (that’s right–SNAILS) are certainly an available canned food that exists in this crazy world. You have gotta be a real and true, hardcore French food fan if you find yourself reaching for the delightful canned option of snails for your consumption. If there was any appeal to escargot in the first place, we’re guessing that it’s in the way it’s prepared, especially in the freshness that one comes to expect in mollusk-involved meals. At least this can’s label boasts “satisfaction guaranteed!” (However much satisfaction you can gain from snails from a can.) Now you can have rubbery, preserved, gooey snails to nosh upon almost any time you want, no trip to France needed! (Although we recommend saving your money for at least the real deal of real fresh escargot.)
1. Canned Tarantula
Out of all the canned, edible insects and bugs on the market, (including such thrilling culinary delights as: grasshoppers, crickets, silkworms, various larvae, insect eggs, beetles, ants, SCORPIONS, and many more,) the salted and baked whole tarantula has got to take the cake on this one. (Scorpion no doubt a very, very close second. Or tied for first?) At least the makers of these delectable insects have decency to add some tasty spices and seasoning to their crunchy, cooked critters. (Offering such options as salted, smoky BBQ, and chocolate-covered. Yum!) Unfortunately, not even a chocolate coating can save this literal monstrosity. We think one of the worse parts, aside from the more than $15 price point, is that the can comes with a whole tarantula. (Another thing in our running theme of “whole canned items.”) As in, you could pop it out of the little can, unwrap it from the plastic and remove the little disconcerting dehydration packet, and have it look nearly like it does alive (hair, eyes, fangs, and all). This is just plain horrifying! Are they at least a little tasty, we wonder? Maybe if they were cut up and cooked into something, not just appearing preserved in time as they do. It’s hard to get past the mere idea of the whole endeavor, let alone the mere sight. Let’s just all take a breath and go back to complaining about boring old canned asparagus and never think about these strange, gross, and totally out there canned options again!