Monday, May 22, 2023

"It's as if a standard sour cream and onion chip took a trip down the condiment aisle"

Lay's Wavy Cuban Sandwich (Limited Time Flavor)
- Walmart

In college, I worked at Panera Bread, and it was awesome. Mainly because of our epic work-family, (imagine a soup and sandwich version of Empire Records), but the food was pretty great too. I still eat there today, (which is something I can't say for another food-related job I had as a teen). Panera will always hold a special place in my heart, and my stomach. I like to recreate stuff in my kitchen all the time. Especially the older discontinued stuff, like their Cuban chicken panini. 

Americanized as it was, it was my first experience with the sandwich, and I loved it. The Panera take had focaccia bread, sweet and spicy pickle chips (closest I have found are the horse radish pickle chips from Aldi),  ham, chicken, tomato-based-whole-grain-mustard, chipotle mayo and swiss cheese, all toasted in the panini press. It is a pretty far cry from a legit Cuban sandwich, but I didn't know that back then. 

A legit Cuban has: ham, roasted pork (not chicken), salami, swiss cheese, mustard and pickles. Which looks like what this chip flavor is based on. The real deal. So, which take will taste more legit? My bastardized Panera sandwich of choice, or these chips? 

Opened, the first thing I smell is sweet onion, yellow mustard, and pickles. Immediately this has me thinking of backyard barbeques. Specifically, the experience of having the toppings and pickle juice from your burger drip down onto your potato chips sitting on the paper plate below, and then snacking on them after. It's an appealing smell, quite summery, but is definitely doesn't have me thinking of a Cubano.  

Taking a bite, the main flavors I detect are pickles and mustard, which makes sense. Both are ingredients in a Cuban sandwich, but it's missing the cheese, ham, and pork flavoring of it's namesake. I like it well enough, but there's nothing about this is distinctly "Cuban." If this were called, "Summer Hot Dog," or something along those lines, I'd be like, "Yup. That tracks." 

It's as if a standard sour cream and onion chip took a trip down the condiment aisle but managed to stay crispy. I actually like these quite a bit, but I do think the smaller portioned bag is the way to go. If you grab one of these, and love them, then you should upgrade to the big bag. If I went with the big bag from the start I think I'd end up getting sick of these rather quickly. 

Are they more authentic than Panera's take? No, but they are still quite yummy. If you like your hot dogs with mustard and relish, or want something fun for your Memorial Day BBQ this year, I'd say these are worth the buy. But, if you're looking for a Cubano, look elsewhere. 

Fans of this would also like:
 Aldi Cuban Pizza, Pickle Crunch, or Hot Dog Pringles

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