The offerings you’ll find in the lunchbox Woody left in his back yard are “lunchtime classics with a twist”, and while there may be a grain of truth to that with the Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Turkey Sandwich, Mini Babybel Snack Cheese and maybe—just maybe—Tomato Basil Soup, let us satisfy your curiosity right now: American children do not usually take anything along the lines of a Monte Cristo with Raspberry Jam to school for their lunch unless they’re at a frou-frou institution where steak and lobster feature on the hot lunch menu, and they’d be sent home with a stern note about nutrition in the learning environment if they showed up with Totchos. Obviously, alcoholic drinks are right out.
Setting all that aside, it’s a fun menu with a nod toward childhood favourites, some of which may be completely “alien” to the British palate. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how some of the less obvious items may have found their way into Woody’s lunchbox.
Starting with Woody’s breakfast menu, we’re not sure anyone would begin their school day with S’more French Toast Breakfast Sandwich, made with chocolate ganache and marshmallows stuffed into French toast, then topped with graham cracker crumbles (kind of like digestive biscuits, but firmer), but it’s a summertime classic (minus the French toast) that harkens back to the campfire treat most kids in the U.S. would know well.
In days gone by (like, during Susan’s childhood), kids would find a long, firm twig, strip the bark off of it, then impale a big marshmallow on the end and hold it over (not IN, but OVER!) the campfire’s flames to toast the outside. Great debates would spring up over just how brown it should be (anywhere from a mild blush to charred into flaming ash), but everyone agreed four squares broken off a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar and two squares of graham cracker were exactly the right amount for the perfect S’more. While this dessert classic has been modernised with fancier chocolate, the original will always be the sentimental favourite. It’s so gooey and decadent you’ll gain weight just looking at it, so we’ll show you the more modest Banana Split Yoghurt Parfait instead.
Although diners all over the U.S. feature a Breakfast Bowl, they generally include scrambled eggs and vegetables. Andy, however, is having none of that, and has based his version on the kid-friendly finger food, Tater Tots (grated potato molded into the shape of a small barrel, then deep fried). The Tots are then covered in brisket country gravy (a fancier version of sausage gravy, a lightly spiced white gravy with crumbled sausage, but this time dotted with beef brisket). Tater Tots were originally a sneaky way to get potatoes into vegetable-resistant children, while sausage gravy is usually served over buttermilk biscuits (a bit like savoury scones), and when it’s done right, it’s oh, so yummy! Put them together, add some scrambled eggs, and you’ve got a breakfast bowl only a kid could invent.
Moving on to the Lunch/Dinner menu, Totchos have only recently become a “thing” in the States, but they’re a spin-off from Nachos, with Tater Tots adding that necessary second carbohydrate along with the corn chips. Yes, it’s over-the-top, but scoop up some chili and cheese on that tot, pop it in your mouth, and tell us it’s not a mash-up of deliciousness (after you’ve stopped chewing, of course). If you’ve had chili cheese fries in the States, it’s along those lines but with crunch.
Now, we hear many of you howling in protest at the very idea of one other item on the list, and we’re here to gently encourage you not to knock it until you’ve tried it. A Monte Cristo is just another name for a croque-monsieur, so it’s really not all that scary, though we do know you’re only eyeing up one of the ingredients with deep suspicion.
Andy probably never heard of a Monte Cristo Sandwich either, but he would certainly be familiar with a Club sandwich, which combines ham, turkey and cheese. Okay, fair enough, the raspberry jam is an unexpected twist, but if you’ve ever been invited to Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll know Americans make sandwiches out of the left-overs and often spread cranberry relish on their bread before piling on the turkey. Same thing here, and it adds moisture while also being surprisingly tasty.
With the less-familiar options out of the way, let’s have a quick peek at what else is on offer, starting with the BBQ Brisket Melt. No Toy Story menu would be complete without paying homage to Woody’s cowboy roots, and that’s where Texas-style smoked brisket with BBQ sauce, cheese, and pickles comes in. Its barbequed smokiness is highlighted by the pickles’ tangy snap, and it’s classic Southwest Americana. Take note, you can get any sandwich “gluten free” just by asking for it when you order.
Lighter fare in the form of the Smoked Turkey, Tomato, and Lettuce on Multigrain Bread makes for a healthy choice, as does the aforementioned Tomato Basil Soup and a cold, creamy Vegetable Macaroni Salad. Kids will find familiar choices in the Grilled Cheese or Turkey sandwiches.
In another nod to childhood dining, dessert includes two options based on Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts, but with a sophisticated twist. Try the Chocolate-Hazelnut Lunch Box Tart (don’t be afraid of the Caramelized Bacon sprinkled over the icing on top; it just comes off as mildly sweet and smoky, and you’re on holiday, so you should live a little), or the Raspberry Lunch Box Tart. Flakey pastry surrounds the filling of your choice, but if you’re not fussed about the idea of a toaster pastry, call them Hand Pies and you’ll be fashionable while still enjoying a kid-inspired treat.
Even better, go full-on nostalgic and opt for an Ice Cream Float with Barq’s Root Beer. Ice cream sodas, including the classic root beer float, stormed onto the culinary scene way back in the mid-1870s, and have been popular with kids and adults ever since. Any soda combination can be used, including orange soda and vanilla ice cream (a Creamsicle), Coke and chocolate or vanilla ice cream (Coke Float), Ginger Ale and vanilla ice cream (Boston Cooler), or Woody’s version, made with root beer and vanilla ice cream. We urge you to work your way through all of them, starting with this soda fountain staple.
If you’re over the age of 20 and you’re in need of a light sedative, try the Grown-Up’s Lemonade (cherry vodka, American-style lemonade, and black cherry puree), Blue Moon orBud Light beer, or Angry Orchard Hard Cider. Soft drinks, coffee, smartwater, hot cocoa and milk are also available.
Although Woody set up his lunch box so his toys would have someplace to grab a bite to eat, you’re an honourary part of the gang while you’re in Toy Story Land when the dinner bell rings!
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