The most passionately debated topic during the summer of 1996 involved curiously preserved meats and cheeses. Friendships were gained and lost based on allegiances to the two differing Lunchables at the time. Ham and American. Turkey and Mozzarella. The differences between the two were minimal; both containing a slippery cylinders that resembled meat, perspiring cheese, salt with cracker crumbs, unsatisfying fun sized candy bar, and an impossible to open Capri Sun pouch that was usually discarded after unsuccessful straw stabbings. Even with the negligible difference of slightly different tasting meats and cheeses, fervent supporters backing each were fiercely loyal and never strayed.
Lunchables were as good as gold in a world where a badly packed sack lunch could instantly ruin your reputation. They could be leveraged and traded for just about anything from the kid with the warm tuna salad sandwich. Now 19 years later I reflect on one of the greatest rivalries of our time, to try and gain closure on the age old topic of turkey versus ham Lunchables.
Turkey and Mozzarella
- The inexplicable standing water at the bottom of the plastic turkey pocket could be consumed if you couldn’t get your Capri Sun open
- The meat was as substantial as tapioca pudding, which made it possible to stack everything into one huge cracker sandwich and bite through with relative ease
- Reflection in the condensation on the mozzarella pieces made it possible to adjust hair or ponder life
- The flavor of the cheese outweighed the flavor of the grey matter impersonating turkey
- Fun sized candy bars still qualified as a decadent desert at that age, when parents ultimately decided when and what you ate
- Expiration date likely still hasn’t passed
- At times it smelled as though turkey had been doused in formaldehyde
- Sometimes the turkey would be completely translucent
- Other times the turkey would be riddled with rope like veins, suggesting that at least the bird had great vascularity
- Sometimes the turkey water Jacuzzi would bubble over onto the crackers turning them into a salty buttery soup incapable of holding meat or cheese
Ham and American
- Better dye job rendered the veins on the ham almost invisible
- The ham chunks eagerly soaked up the standing water, sparing the rest of the Lunchable from the always dreaded “ham water”
- The contrast of the reddish pink hue of the ham and the Tonka Truck yellow of the cheese made for a beautiful and intricate looking sandwich stack
- The snap after biting into a ham wafer was about 10X more severe than a wet towel in a high school locker room
- Sometimes it seemed like there was a protective latex membrane around the ham that made each bite require a minimum of 5,000 chews before swallowing
- American cheese is the only bad thing with the word American in it
- I was once scarred after encountering an uncut ham slab, forced to manhandle and grind ham pieces onto crackers as though they were crumbles of blue cheese
Winner: Ham and American. The snap is far easier to overcome than the subway map of veins on the turkey wafers.