When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. When life hands you a sturdy vessel from which to eat your victuals, don’t dirty any additional dishes. Canned goods are the least fussy of any pantry ingredient: they’re durable, long-lasting, cheap, and straightforward. It’s no wonder that we take every opportunity to sing the praises of foods that come in cans.
Even though most canned goods boast heat-and-eat simplicity—open can, dump can into bowl, microwave, and serve—some canned items can be ferried right from the can to your mouth. We’re asking readers to be honest with us here: Which foods do you eat straight from the can, with no intermediary bowl or plate? Go on, don’t be shy. We’ve shared our answers below.
Sometimes I just crave a snack that feels fancy without the high price point, and canned olives are it. Sure, you could jazz it up with some cheese or crackers, a pantry-based charcuterie board. But when all I really want is to get a salty, oily fix while at home by myself, the only accompaniment I need for my olive treat is a can opener to get the party started. You can usually find basic green and black olives in cans, so there’s some variety to keep things interesting without overwhelming you with choice. They even come in small, personal-sized helpings so you don’t have to worry about Saran-wrapping and saving for later—a perfect solo snack, straight from the can. —Brianna Wellen, associate editor
Unlike my olive-y colleague, I’m generally averse to savory foods that come floating in juices. But canned fruit is the business. I was a somewhat picky kid, and canned mandarin oranges were one of very few Vitamin C sources that I slurped down with zeal. And while I do my best to keep fresh fruit in the house, I never manage to finish off a bag of clementines before they go bad. Enter mandarin orange slices, which are best enjoyed directly out of a chilled can. They’re also great in salads, or even atop poultry dishes—but if you really want to live luxuriously, you’ve got to eat them straight out of the can. When you’re done, don’t forget to drink the tasty leftover nectar. —Lillian Stone, staff writer
Canned pasta and—wait, what?!
I have not one, but two items I love eating straight out of the can.
I don’t often admit it, but sometimes I can be extremely impatient. So much so that when I’m super hungry, I’ll pop open a can of Chef Boyardee and eat it straight from the fuckin’ tap. I know for a fact I’m not alone in this, but it’s not something a lot of people admit out loud. What’s funny is I’m slightly particular; I like the canned ravioli just fine right out of the can (it’s easy to fork and eat fast), but the spaghetti and meatballs are my absolute favorite. Yes, I said favorite. Both the pasta and meatballs are so soft you can almost swallow everything whole, and the sauce is metallic yet sweet. Despite the fact that this sounds horrible, I still love it. Guess what I had for lunch yesterday?
My other straight-from-the-can favorite is harder to admit, but... okay [deep breath] here goes: I like eating Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup right out of the can. There, I said it. I have told a few people this in strict confidence before and I have been judged, but now you know too. It’s like salty pudding with savory chunks in it, which probably sounds hilariously gross to some of you, but hear me out: That’s precisely its appeal.
This hefty Campbell’s soup is both creamy and savory, not only due to the mushrooms, but because of the MSG in it. MSG and I are old pals (many of my favorite snacks contain MSG), so the appeal makes sense to me. Granted, this is a pretty salty snack, but if I’m making some to have with a sandwich or something, I always sneak a few spoonfuls from the can before I mix it with milk. Okay, fine, I’ve eaten entire cans of it before in one sitting, and no, I don’t smoke weed. Bye forever. —Dennis Lee, staff writer