The Five Worst Canned Foods You Can Easily Find In America

It's easy to go to a foreign market and find items that seem strange and offensive to an American palate. Wandering through a Korean market, someone might offer you steamed silkworm pupae. In a South American market, you might get fried ant eggs. Yes, thanks to a mixture of poverty and sheer cast-iron balls, many cultures of the world have for centuries had to eat things that were rejected as unrealistic by the producers of Fear Factor. You may not want to eat fish mouth soup because you're afraid of choking to death on all the little teeth, but think about it: would you want to go to war with people who gladly lap it up? Sometimes it seems like certain cultures base their cuisines entirely around intimidating Americans, and we can only say congratulations, it is working.

But before we go feeling all superior, we should admit that we have our share of horrifying foods, too. This is stuff you see in most American grocery stores with the Queen's proper English right there on the label, so you know it didn't come from some strange, exotic land (unless you consider London strange and exotic, which you really shouldn't). It would have been easy to pick on the cultures of others and load this list up with bugs and sticks, but here at Eating Our Words, we'd much rather make fun of the dreadful canned items offered right here at home.

5. Entire Chicken In a Can

Once the bombs have dropped, the zombies have cleared out 99.9 percent of the Earth's population, and the thought of livestock and fresh meat is a thing of the past, the few remaining survivors will find in some basement bunker a stockpile of canned chickens. People who suffered through the loss of their entire families, who saw their entire world burnt to a crisp, who have accepted that the life they knew is over, only upon seeing an entire slimy chicken slurp noisily from its metal canister and plop onto the counter with a defeated splat will those hardy survivors turn their guns upon themselves. Only then will all hope truly be lost.

Chicken-in-a-can was conceived by terrorists.

4. Canned Alligator

How hungry was the first person to come across a gator, all 7 feet, 400 pounds of it, and think to himself "Man, that looks tasty!"? How desperately hungry do you have to be to fight one of those things, kill it, and cook it?

We're pretty certain that, whoever they are, they were disappointed. You don't see gator meat much outside of Cajun restaurants because gator meat sucks. You have to cook, fry, bread, and spice the shit out of it just to disguise its natural flavor enough to eat it. If venison is "gamey," then gator meat is Parker Bros. And that's just the fresh meat. We don't even want to think about what it must be like after sitting in canned brine for a few weeks or months. It must be like eating an old leather satchel you found while scuba diving along the bottom of a flooded ghost town.

3. Canned Tongues Ah, tongue, the food that tastes you as you taste it. Here is a case in which a foreign language on the label would help out a lot. If it said "Lenguas," we would be comforted by the fact that the contents of this can will be used in tortas and tacos and other delicious Mexican foods. But there's no Spanish to be had, which means these are intended for white people to cook into some kind of mind-shattering 1950s-style party casserole that probably contains fish sticks and anchovies and will all be cased in gelatin before being served. Think of things like that any time an older relative talks about the "good old days."

2. Canned Rattlesnake

Following alligator in the category of "Shit We Dragged Out of the Swamp Before It Could Kill Us" comes honest-to-God rattlesnake in a can. This is not a novelty item with spring-loaded paper snakes waiting to make the guests at your next birthday celebration sigh exasperatedly. This is real meat. Supposedly it tastes about halfway between chicken and pork, which doesn't sound so bad. Hell, maybe they should add it to the chicken carbonara sandwich at Quizno's; God knows they haven't had any really bizarre commercials ever since they stopped running the ones with the rape stove.

1. Pig Brains

Pigs are kind of smart. Really, I feel a little bad when I eat bacon and pepperoni because although chickens and cows are little more than walking stomachs, pigs have an undeniable intelligence to them that puts them a rung above their fellow livestock. And if a nice pork chop brings a slight pang of guilt, the thought of eating pig brains makes me feel like Jeffrey Dahmer.

I don't know how drunk I'd have to be to eat something that a living thing used to think with, but if I ever do get that drunk, I certainly hope someone sober is there to drive me to the hospital. I'll need the services of the emergency room not only due to the alcohol poisoning, but also due to the insane amount of cholesterol contained within.

It would be healthier for me to swallow a fucking grenade. Can your body even digest this? Is it forced to shunt the cholesterol directly into your bloodstream in big, sticky gobs that make your arterial walls look like the aftermath of a fight between Spider-Man and Slimer? The crew in the original Alien had a more wholesome meal. I'm seriously reconsidering the fried ant eggs.

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John Seaborn Gray