Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Frozen PB&J, solving the lunch preparation time constraint paradox

Of all the food related annoyances in life, paying $8 for a lousy sandwich from some national chain during your lunch break ranks near the top. Of course this issue is easily resolved by making your own lunch. But there is one thing that I (and much of America) hate more than paying for a bad lunch: missing out on beauty sleep. The decision between hitting the snooze button or dragging myself into the kitchen rarely falls on the side of food preparation. As a result I usually do not have the time to assemble something for lunch. Thankfully the food scientists at TWSF have developed a perfect solution to the lunch preparation time constraint paradox. The frozen PB&J.

While catching a quick reprieve from the oppressive summer heat in the frozen food section of our local supermarket, I noticed a peculiar product, Uncrustables. They are essentially a frozen PB&J sandwich with the crust cut off. Three thoughts immediately crossed my mind:
1.) How lazy does a parent have to be to not make peanut butter and jelly?
2.) Why don't they just freeze their own PB&J?
3.) That would be an elegant solution to the lunch preparation time constraint paradox.....

*note: I am sure many parents out there probably froze sandwiches, but ours didn't so as far as TWSF is concerned this is groundbreaking science.

Making a sandwich, from a process engineering standpoint, contains a lot of step: You have to get out the peanut butter, the jelly, the bread, the sandwich bag, the knife. Apply the peanut butter, apply the jelly, put the pieces of bread together, put the sandwich in the bag then put everything away. Condensing this to a one step process (opening the freezer) in the morning would result in a dramatic increase in efficiency. A PB&J produced more than 4 hours ahead of consumption runs a high risk of becoming soggy. In theory, by freezing the PB&J the time frame between creation and soggation would be exponentially (if not infinitely) increased.

The scientists at TWSF ran a beta test one evening on a single sandwich (Welches grape and JIF creamy on 7 grain bread in a regular ziploc if you are trying to reporduce the results of this test). Despite worries of detrimental effects to the integrity of the bread and possible thawing jelly 'soggage' the experiment worked. Come lunchtime the tester ate a once frozen sandwich whose measurable characteristics were well within the range of acceptance.

TWSF has since introduced economies of scale to this process by generating sandwiches from an entire loaf of bread on a single night and eating them throughout the week.

The lunch preparation process can be further expedited by prebagging your chips/snack and dessert. Throw in a bottle of water and a piece of fruit and you got a lunch you mom would be proud of.

Now TWSF is set  to work on the next great lunch problem, a cure for the PB&J overdose.


  1. This idea crossed my mind one morning and I quickly dismissed it thinking it would make a lousy sandwich. Thanks for doing the experiment to prove me wrong :) I will have to try it for myself now.

  2. :-) you guys have a great turn of phrase