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What is up with the cheese sandwiches?

I have talked to two people this week who remember ruefully being sent off to elementary school every single day with a lunch consisting of an american cheese sandwich. The one guy didn't even get mayo or a twinkie or anything else. Both guys, and they are different ages and don't know each other, begged their moms for a little variety once in awhile, to no avail. Apparently it wasn't a money thing in either case as there was always a new car in the driveway and other luxuries for the adults. I know this is kind of a strange topic but I was wondering if any other chowhounds were inflicted with the endless unrelenting cheese sandwich lunch?

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  1. We didn't get just bread and cheese for school lunch, but our favorite snack coming home after school was grilled cheese. White bread, two slices of Kraft (cellophane wrapped), and a little butter on each side, grilled in my mom's little cast iron pan. Nothing more elaborate, but nothing tastier.

    1. I would sometimes get untoasted white bread, slathered in too much butter, topped with a slice of generic processed cheese. If my father was especially lazy, there wouldn't even be butter on the bread and I'd eat a dry sandwich that tasted the way a freezer smells. For us it wasn't so much a money thing either as a sign I think my father secretly hated me.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JungMann

        We also had something similar growing up: white bread, butter, white processed cheese. But there was usually (but sometimes not) green chutney or similar also spread on the bread. Tomato slices were good too, but the sandwich grew mushy by lunchtime.
        Other days were jam sandwiches: white bread, butter, if we were lucky my mom's homemade plum jam, otherwise storebought sugary stuff.
        My mother used to want to pack us the good stuff (roti+sabzi; idlis+chutney), but we preferred "convenience". Obviously I've done a 180 on this now.

      2. It's been a while since I've had one of these, but I recall having them frequently as a kid by choice. It's hard to beat the simplicity, convenience, and tastiness of a slice of American cheese tucked in between two slices of fresh white bread. Makes me nostalgic just thinking about it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: gloriousfood

          I had them as a kid by choice. Usually plain, without mayo.
          Heck I might have one tonight!

        2. Yup, that was me -- after I begged my mom NOT to pack me weird food (like futo maki or stirfry over rice or tea eggs.... what was I thinking?!?!) and after I became a vegetarian in fifth grade. She'd occasionally try to sneak lunch meat in there, edges tucked neatly under, so they weren't visible beyond the crust. Half the time, I fed the cheese sandwich to Sandy, the golden retriever that lived in the yard by my bus stop.

          It wasn't a money issue: my parents were frugal, but went all out when it came to food. I think my mom was really at a loss for what to feed someone who wanted gringo vegetarian food. It's the same story on Indian airlines. If you choose Indian vegetarian, you get some halfway palatable dal with rice. If you chose "western" vegetarian, you get white bread with processed cheese.

          3 Replies
          1. re: cimui

            When I was a kid I also loved cheese sandwiches with mayo or sometimes ketchup. Fortunately, I didn't have to eat the same thing every day for lunch. My parents gave me much of whatever I requested. I loved my Mom's tunafish salad, chicken salad, egg salad, and roast beef sandwiches, she always packed grapes, bananas, or other type of fruit along with a Tastykake and some potato chips, or my favorite, potato sticks.

            And, when thinking of grilled cheese sandwiches, I salivate. In my teen years, instead of using yellow cheese on white bread (buttered on the outside and heated in a skillet), I used to use raisin bread (buttered on the outside....) and swiss cheese when I made a "grilled" cheese sandwich. The nutty flavor of the swiss cheese was complimented by the sweet raisins in the bread. Think I'll have one for lunch tomorrow. FoiGras

            1. re: FoiGras

              a grilled cheese sandwich is one of the loveliest things to eat in the world -- but a cold cheese sandwich, or worse, a cold grilled cheese sandwich? blech!

              1. re: FoiGras

                I made a grilled cheese on raisin walnut bread with brie and bacon. It was amazing. I'll have to try your version. Sounds fantastic.

            2. @givemecarbs- I always knew when there was nothing left in the house when I would open up my lunch box/ brown bag and there was the heel of the bread with Kraft cheese, tomato, and mayo! Hey, it happens when your parents work.

              2 Replies
              1. re: jacquelines

                I just had a cheese sandwich 2 days ago, jalepeno jack on multi-grain. As for a kid, I really don't remember my mother (or father) making me lunch to take to school. It was more like here's a fiver, stop off at the bagel store before class, or get it from the caf.

                1. re: MrsT

                  Yesterday morning I had a grilled cheese at the Clover on Bourbon Street for breakfast. It was divine!!! With a side of pickles. MMM.. When I cook them at home I put the pickles on them. I fancy it up a little with cheddar instead of American cheese.