The ten best tinned products, in case of an apocalyptic situation

Photo by Hannes Johnson on Unsplash

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves or get overly carried away, but the world isn’t exactly spinning steadily on its axis these days, is it? There’s the smell of war in the air, isn’t there? A looming fog cloud of doom that no one really wants to address. So, sod it, let’s not! Instead, apropos of nothing, let’s just list a variety of tinned foods that have a fantastically long shelf life, and that you could probably eat underground should you ever find yourself in a bunker-type scenario for whatever reason. Not war necessarily, it could be anything. You might be a mole. Anyway, look, no one say the word nuclear, don’t even think it. Just read this list and make a secret mental note…

Branston Baked Beans
There are certain foods that demand an element of specificity and one of those is baked beans. Though basic in their perception, the gulf in quality can be significant to the point where bad beans can ruin your day, or a botched effort at homemade ones can ruin your business. While I don’t know much in life, I do know this: the best ones are Branston Beans. Just trust me on that.

Popular since World War II, particularly in Hawaii where it’s the national dish. That’s right, the national dish of Hawaii isn’t the silly pizza with ham and pineapple, it’s spam, the pinkest of all the pretend hams, the Barbie of luncheon meats. And for good reason too, because it’s surprisingly delicious.

Tiny little fish. So tiny, in fact, that bearded fishermen will often use them as bait to catch much bigger fish with, like a tuna (also great in a tin) or a sea bass (nice roasted). One of the great revelations of the last few years is that these titchy little fuckers aren’t even a food, they’re a seasoning. In Spain, they drape them over their famous ‘tomato bread’ to add a salty hit to offset the sweet acidity of the tomatoes.

Confit de Canard
Salted and preserved in its own fat, a good tin of confit duck can sit on a cupboard shelf for years without losing its lustre. That makes it about as good as tinned products can get. Try it with a smooth mash and some other token vegetables.

Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup
One of the much-heralded “57 Varieties” of Heinz products, but can you name the other 56? Probably not, unless you’re already familiar with Heinz Chow Chow Pickle, or Heinz Evaporated Horseradish, or Heinz Breakfast Wheat (no, thought not). But of the 57, Cream of Tomato Soup is up there with their world-famous ketchup.  

John West Tuna Steak in Brine
John West has been a big hitting brand in the tinned fish industry since the 1800s, and is literally named after the man who invented the automated can-filling machine – at the time using it to ship tinned salmon over to the UK from Canada, while now it caters to all manner of underwater life.  

Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup
If I learned anything from my days as a teenage waiter serving Oxford University students in the 1990s, it’s that Warhol’s favourite brand of chicken soup can masquerade as just about anything – I’ve seen it described as ‘carbonara’, ‘cream sauce’, ‘white sauce’, and even, believe it or not, ‘chicken soup’.

Lyle’s Golden Syrup
Like all of the best culinary inventions (including our old friend coca-cola), this one was concocted by a chemist in the late 1800s. The logo’s an odd one too, finding a dead lion being visited by a swarm of bees – doffing an unexpected cap to the biblical tale of Samson – but if you can squint your way past the brutal branding, you’ll find a sensational treat worth getting sticky about, so to speak.   

Heinz Taste of Home Indulgent Chocolate Pudding
Tasty, chocolaty, and with the kind of moist but heavy texture that Paul Hollywood tents his trousers for. Genuinely, if I was served this in a top restaurant, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid. And I say that as someone who has been to a grand total of one Michelin-starred restaurant.

Del Monte Peach Slices
If you were knocking about in 1892 (particularly around California) you may have heard of Del Monte Peaches, they were a phenomenon. Other phenomenon from 1892 include the inaugural issue of Vogue magazine, the birth of Liverpool FC and the first appearance in print of a sleuth called Sherlock Holmes. Not a bad year for the world, all things told.

2 Responses to The ten best tinned products, in case of an apocalyptic situation

  1. Ben Holland says:

    Alphabeti Spaghetti !!

  2. Anton Gully says:

    I recently bought some frozen Vol Au Vent pastry, because I am an indolent fop, giddy with nostalgia. Any Campbell’s Condensed Soup is a good start for a Vol Au Vent filling.

    Sadly, I’m pretty sure it’s been years since you could get a Heinz tinned pudding, but would be very happy to hear different. Look into Aunty’s steamed chocolate pudding, though I doubt it would store well.

    The duck confit is fine, but expensive to lay down in bulk. If you want tinned poultry for much cheaper, buy tinned hotdogs. They aren’t 100% chicken but the percentage is right up there. Probably no less healthy than the confit.

    I love Spam, approve your bean choice. Anchovies are a fiction.

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