Top 5 Greatest Canned Foods

Cheeseburger in a can. Yes, it's real. No, it's not on the list.
Cheeseburger in a can. Yes, it's real. No, it's not on the list.

We had a look at some of the worst canned foods you can buy some time ago, which you might remember in the same way that twitchy guy in the cubicle across from you still remembers having been trapped in a burning car when he was six years old. Well, you can relax. The time for staring in horror and tripping your gag reflex is over. Today, we're going to have a look at canned food we actually love.

Snobs, please keep in mind: I am telling you right up front that this article is about canned food. Please take a second to think about that before you post comments asking things like "Ugh, that's so gross, why would you eat that stuff out of a can when you could just go to your nearest farmer's market and blow your paycheck on all of the local organic ingredients and then come home and look up a recipe that may or may not be any good and then laboriously whip up the EXACT SAME DISH in your lavishly modern kitchen with the thousands of dollars of cooking equipment I assume you have and be eating a much better meal in just under four hours?" We try to be all-inclusive here at Eating Our Words, but if you seriously cannot imagine a reasonable answer to that question, then perhaps you would be better served navigating away from this article right now and heading back over to UnbearableFoodieSnot.com from whence you came.

Now then. To the cans.

"Hearty" is code for "more calories than you'd prefer".
"Hearty" is code for "more calories than you'd prefer".

5. Chicken 'n' Dumplins See? Told you. Even I bristle a little at the thought of canned chicken 'n' dumplins, because my grandmother used to make the world's greatest chicken 'n' dumplins from scratch. However, when I don't have the time, will, or ingredients to follow her recipe (or even the emergency chicken 'n' dumplins recipe), I find that a can of Dinty Moore or some other similar brand will do. God help me, the dumplins in canned chicken 'n' dumplins are usually okay, sometimes even better than okay if you're lucky enough to stumble on one of them pricey, fancy-ass cans from parts unknown.

Feeds seven adults, or one depressed teenager.
Feeds seven adults, or one depressed teenager.

4. Tamales Sure, you can use canned tamales to great effect in any number of casseroles, but honestly, when I can't find a good food truck in the area or if it's too rainy for the tamale lady to be out, I'll eat these more or less straight out of the can. Usually I can be bothered to melt some cheese on top of them, but not always.

You can put your own beans in it, though. We checked, it's legal.
You can put your own beans in it, though. We checked, it's legal.

3. Chili If you're not in the habit of making your own chili once a week during the winter months, then you'd better keep some of the canned stuff on hand. Otherwise, what's going to happen when you need some Frito pie? You'll go without, that's what, and you'll be a sad little piggy, unless for some reason you're one of these weirdos who doesn't have unhealthy emotional attachments to food. Plus, canned chili is one of those things that makes a decent blank template; even the cheapest, shittiest canned chili can be massively improved with a little bit of hot sauce, chili powder, and/or peppers. You can even put beans in it if you'd like. I personally wouldn't, but Jesus Christ, it's just chili. I've seen less passionate debating in "Everybody Should Have Abortions Or Else Go To Jail" forums than in the comments section of any article which suggests that chili should or should not have beans in it. Hey, people have different tastes and preferences. I know, it's crazy, but it's true.

2. Vegetable / Chicken Noodle Soup Ever suddenly come down with a cold or the flu and not had any soup on hand? Bet you never made that mistake again, did you?

Boyardee: an Anglicized name for Anglicized food.
Boyardee: an Anglicized name for Anglicized food.

1. Ravioli with Meatballs Oh man. I kind of want some now. A generation of children were reared on Chef Boyardee pastas - or their generic store-brand equivalent - and we never even suspected that there was a whole entire serving of vegetables in every can. If we'd found out we'd have turned on our parents in furious, frothing little balls of teeth and anger, but since we didn't find out about it until we were much older, no harm no foul. The ravioli with meatballs was the cream of the crop; it was much more sophisticated than other canned pastas - nary a dinosaur nor number shape to be had - yet also spectacularly inappropriate. You aren't supposed to eat meatballs with ravioli. It's a little bit like garnishing veal marsala with caramel popcorn. Yet in the red tomato-y brine of Boyardee, it tasted as if there could be no other way to eat it, and many a level of Super Mario Bros. 3 was overcome thanks to its actually quite reasonable allotment of calories.


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