Here’s a sandwich. It is not a train. Eat anyway.

by Janelle Hanchett

Dear Children,

There are four of you. I adore you all. I want the best for you. I want you to become the people you were meant to become.

And yet, I have never carved your sandwiches into the shape of trains.

Maybe you’ll never care. Maybe you’ll live your whole life without ever mumbling to yourself in the wee hours of a heartless morning “Where was MY baby carrot shaped into an owl with little raisins for eyes? WHAT ABOUT MY BENTO BOX?”

But just in case, I’d like to offer an explanation of what may appear a deficiency, and may in fact be a deficiency, but isn’t entirely without thought either way.

In short, I want you to eat the sandwich because it’s a sandwich, recognizing that as such it has merit all on its own, even if it isn’t round like the wheels on the bus. It has bread, maybe some meat, lettuce, mustard or mayonnaise. These things feed our bodies. Feeding our bodies is amazing. Cute sandwiches do not actually feed our bodies better than non-cute ones.

I want you to get used to this. I want you to eat the sandwich because it’s a motherfucking sandwich, not because it looks like a fish.

Eat the motherfucking sandwich because it’s a motherfucking SANDWICH.


Yeah, I know. I get it. It’s more fun to eat a sandwich that looks like a baby bear. That sounds fun to me too. I love small furry animals. But the thing is, nobody is going to make turkeys out of your cheese balls in your adult life. Nobody is going to make the boring yet necessary parts of life more compelling through Pinterest-inspired sculpting.

Someday you’ll have to sit in meetings while the office manager discusses for the 27th time how everybody is putting the mail in the mail thing upside down and you’ll be like THIS DOES NOT MATTER HOW IS THIS MY LIFE MAYBE I COULD KILL ALL OF YOU but there will be no way out of it because you need the money and this is your job.

Nobody’s going to make the office manager’s speech more amusing by removing his clothes or putting a donkey headband on him or sticking him in a unicorn suit with the butt part removed.

Nobody’s going to have him discuss how long food should be in the refrigerator via haiku and interpretive dance.

Take a moment and imagine how rad that would be. But will it happen?

No. Never.

You get Boring As Fuck. You get office casual, large table, legal pads, old coffee and general malaise.

A Powerpoint. If you’re lucky. Probably without fun slide transitions.

Nobody cares if you’re entertained.

You get the square sandwich with stuff inside. Probably even with crust.


You see? The minute I start making food AMUSING is the minute you start expecting food to be amusing. Why the hell would I sign myself up for that shit? Get used to bananas as bananas not centipedes and apricots as apricots not clownfish. Why?

Because there are some things we do because they need to be done even though they may not be our favorite.

Like eating, for example.

Although, how is eating not your favorite? How is eating ALL THE THINGS not your favorite? What the fuck is wrong with you?


Sorry, again. You know how I struggle with potty mouth.

Okay, are you with me so far? Carving sandwiches into cute fuzzy shit when you’re two is a slippery slope to “Oh, Johnny, you don’t like grapes? What if I turn them into a waterfall cascading into a large Brazilian swimming hole?”

“Oh, no celery? What if I make it into a lion eating a hyena but in our front yard? Wouldn’t you like a lion in the front yard? Lions are amazing! Lemme hear you roar!”

Well, that’s how it is in my brain, at least. I see myself getting pulled around by a tiny ass dictator shouting I ONLY EAT APPLES WITH THE WINGS OF GREAT BALD EAGLES and that terrifies me.

Y’all are annoying enough without demanding artistic enhancement of food items.

Or, I’m lazy.

That’s probably it to be honest. My goal each day is to get food INTO your bag. Its spot on the adorable spectrum is 3,000% not what I care about.

But hey, we all have our talents. I once told you I went to Julliard so many times you told your kindergarten teacher and she invited me to do a presentation at the school on singing and dance.

Tell me that shit isn’t better than a blackberry lamb with a kiwi sun.

That’s creative as fuck.

Anyway, I hope you have a nice life. I love you. I also love trains, baby bears, eagles and clownfish, but not in food form, unless it’s a party, and I’m not throwing it.

Eat the motherfucking sandwich.



Although, remember that one time I made a rainbow cake to celebrate marriage equality? fucking NAILED it.

Although, remember that one time we made a rainbow cake to celebrate marriage equality? fucking NAILED it. Crafty as shit.

  • Belinda

    you’re amazing! I don’t have kids and love reading all your posts!!

  • Elaine

    Yep, I’ve told my kids many times that life is harder than not and that if they work their asses off all week and still have enough money for a drink at happy hour on Friday with some friends, well, then that’s about what to expect.
    I also tell them that if they want to live mediocre lives to just keep doing what they are doing, i.e. not pushing themselves and playing it safe.
    Then I tell them I love them.
    See!? you aren’t the only one damaging your children. 🙂

    • WenS

      Omg! I burst out laughing. I feel the same way and always give myself shit. Thanks!

  • Daddy Scratches

    This. A thousand times, this.

  • Tessa

    Janelle, you want me to make you fruit salad that looks like a rainforest paradise so you don’t feel left out? I’ll do it. Just kidding! I don’t even do that shit for my kids! But I secretly wish I could/did. And your post makes me feel way better about that department. My kids eat the fucking sandwich. And they tell me I make the best in the world (regular old pb&j with crust, to boot) so I’m doing something right.

  • Lindsay

    “The minute I start making food AMUSING is the minute you start expecting food to be amusing.”
    Don’t start something you don’t like unless you want to do it for the rest of their life.

  • sara

    I once told my entire 1st grade class that my grandmother survived the titanic cause she told me that. imagine her surprise when that bit her in the ass when the principle wanted her to talk at an assembly for the WHOLE DAMN SCHOOL.
    true story.
    also true story, she wasn’t even born yet when the mofo sunk.

    • spenser

      LOVE THIS!!!! Julliard and Titanic raise their ugly heads and bite you on the ass.

      My Grandmother (who was VERY English) told me, when I was 6, that I was a direct descendant of King Arthur. To which my father, who was just passing through the living room at the time, replied without skipping a beat, “We’re Jewish Mum.” That put paid to that! But since then I have always harbored a secret kinship with the once and future king. 🙂

  • Sherry

    My sons are grown but tell tales of the first week of school…..crust cut off of perfect sandwich, carrot and celery sticks, apple slices, homemade cookies, love notes. New clothes laid out perfectly.

    Second week of school, Bologna sandwich and Cheetos….”I know the bread is stale, you didn’t shut the damned bag…..I can’t find your lunch box and no, that is NOT a garbage bag…..The bananas are not rotten, theyre just ripe….stop whining your going to miss the bus!”

    Third week….”I’m late for work, get your brother to make your lunch or here’s money, buy it”. Just get a shirt out of the dryer, wrinkled is very fashionable”

    They grew up without illness or their faces on a wanted poster……I call that success!

  • The Prozac Queen

    LOL as cute as “ants on a log” are, I love this!

    And I liked the crust on my sandwiches as a kid. That’s the best part.

  • Adria

    I couldn’t agree more. And isn’t this exactly what Grandmothers are for?? If you don’t have one, oh well, you get boring as fuck!

  • Sugar&Rhubarb

    nailed it

  • Also Tessa (different Tessa)

    I loved bento boxes BEFORE I had a kid. I would dream about making lunch for my kids and putting time and effort into it. I did not know there was no time and effort on the other side. Now I hope my kid is just glad I make her a lunch. I would give anything to have someone make my lunch.

  • Renee

    Never made any of that shit for my kids and they both turned out pretty good. Grandkids, on the other hand, are a different story. Sandwiches that look like dinosaurs or Mickey Mouse. Isn’t that what we are here for?

  • Wendy

    This! Such a slippery slope!

  • Bonnie Bsrbosa

    I’m laughing so hard, people are staring at me…! Keep up your amazing work of calling out all the bullshitters I totally heart you! 😀

  • Joelle

    THANK YOU!! I hate all that Pinterest shit. It just makes those of us who can’t (or won’t) do it feel bad. And the people who want to have gold coins that were left by the leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day?? I hate them too.

  • Laura

    Perfect! I’m dying over here.

    My daughter is 15 months old and I dread the questions I’ll receive one day about why her salads don’t come in owl form.

  • Charity R

    Guilty bento box maker. I actually just got a package of lunchmeat cutters from japan, with useful shapes like clouds and music notes. None of the shapes are bigger than a quarter, so they are utterly useless. But sooooo cute.

    • katie

      hold up, they make lunchmeat cutters? i may waste the rest of friday researching this. mommy wants a ham lion!!

    • CommentingStranger

      I don’t agree with the author that making fun lunches will create humans that expect to be entertained by everything. Do you? If you agree with her then stop making entertaining meals. If you don’t, then revel in the fact that your children will see evidence of your love in their lunch boxes.

      Before anyone assumes that I think that not making entertaining lunches means you don’t love your kids as much as someone who does – I don’t.

  • Karyn

    Thank the world for you and all that you write. My kid occasionally gets a hand-drawn sticky note on her lunch- it’s when I feel guilty because I won’t see her before work…or after on somedays. It makes me feel better. But you know what felt the best? When she made her own lunch for the first time and was proud as shit about it. THAT was the best. No amount of cute food can make up for her confidence.

    • katie

      you, ma’am, are doin’ it right

  • Andrea Mae

    Right there with ya! I am even married to a classically trained chef! I admit we did do this a couple times and got QUICKLY over it.

  • Gaijinmama

    I live in Japan. Land of Pretty Bento Boxes. I love it here, but people Freak. The Hell. Out. because my 15 year old son makes his own bento every morning …public high schools here do not have cafeterias.

    The kid’s bento is simple, involving leftovers and a microwave. Not rocket science. The cultural expectation here is that Mommy will get up at 5:30 and make the bento.
    Which, in our house, is NOT happening. Mommy already gets up at 6 to go to work. And, see above…the young man in question is 15. Honey, please. He has a real system at this point, and better him than me!

    I love all your posts. Keep on! You rock!

  • greenrobin

    thank you. i teach these special snowflakes who are much specialer than the rest of the blizzard–every one of them. kids need to understand that the measure of our love and their worth isn’t found in the shape of their sandwich.

  • Jennifer


  • Motherterrorsa

    You’re a Demi goddess. Never stop. And those kids into whose mouths you’re gently and yet firmly shoving unfettered
    flaps of all 4 food groups- They’re gonna kill it one day. Stay so superb; you make us a better specie.

  • SC

    Most of the fun with food is figuring out how to play with it YOURSELF. You know, creativity and all that shit they don’t allow in schools anymore because it isn’t on the test.

    (But god forbid they use their creativity to make the WRONG FUN THING. Like they bite their sandwich into the shape of a gun and then point its peanut-butter filled barrel at an unsuspecting classmate. That shit will get you expelled.)

    Besides, we need to be practical here. How will kids ever learn how to spell swear words in their alphabet soup if mommy does it for them all the time?

  • andrea

    Truth! If my kids want a sandwich made with gluten-free, organic bread and free-range chicken carved into Simba and Scar, then they better make it their damn selves! Oh, wait, just make your own lunch, period. (My kids are 13, 12, and 10, and having been packing lunches for at least 4 years). Then your lunch can be as awesome or as lame as you want. I fucking hate bento boxes and all they represent! I do, however, LOVE YOU!

  • Renia Carsillo

    Love it! We all need to chill the fuck out with this over-compensating for constant stress parenting crap. Just causes more stress.

    My Mom’s policy when I was a kid is the one I’ve kept with my kids: Eat what I cook or don’t eat. People are always amazed that my 8 and 10 year old boys will eat almost anything, but that awe turns into judgement about being a TERRIBLE mother when I tell them it’s because both of them went without dinner many times as toddlers. They weren’t starving and eventually they ate. And nothing was ever cut into the shape of a dinosaur and the broccoli was broccoli, no cheese sauce or little trees.

  • krystal

    I enjoy all of your posts. Past an present. I wish I would have came across website years ago!
    I am a mother of 5 beautiful lil demons with strong characters!
    I agree strongly with your opinion in your most recent post Here’s a Sandwich. It’s not a Train. Eat it anyway”. That you have written.
    I believe Alexis’s ( unisex name) mom should make one for every student in the class so no one feels left out or offended!
    Sincerely, me

  • Elizabeth

    I carved “EAT ME” into the peel of my son’s banana the other day… that’s about as food-fancy as I get!

  • Kelly

    Slippery slope indeed! My daughter loved Pacman last year. One day, on a whim, I cut her sandwich into a Pacman shape with a raisin for an eye, just for fun. She LOVED it. It has been a year now, and she still wants her fucking sandwich cut into a fucking Pacman. She doesn’t even care about Pacman anymore. FML.

  • Emily

    Whatever, I’m a good mom. I look at those and think, “Oh, that’s so cute! I’m going to make that. Well, for me.” and then I close the page and don’t even send myself the link because HA HA HA, of course I’m not doing that. I might eat my next lunch and pretend it’s the lunch I saw on the internet, just like I would never do during sex.