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Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > Bridgford Read-to-Eat Sandwiches > Test Report by Brett Haydin

BRIDGFORD READY TO EAT SANDWICHES
TEST SERIES BY BRETT HAYDIN
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - February 21, 2011
LONG TERM REPORT - June 21, 2011

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Brett Haydin
EMAIL: bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
AGE: 38
LOCATION: Salida, CO, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)
CHEST: 42 in (107 cm)
WAIST: 36 in (91 cm)

I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips in rough, mountainous terrain, although I have extensive experience in the upper Midwest as well. I take one or two longer trips each year, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE 1
Bridgford Ready to Eat Sandwiches
Manufacturer: Bridgford Foods
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: www.bridgford.com
MSRP: N/A

Other details Provided by Manufacturer

BBQ ChickenItalian Soy Marinara BBQ Beef Pepperoni Bacon/Cheese Italian Cinnamon Bun
Serving Size 100 g (3.5 oz)100 g (3.5 oz)100 g (3.5 oz)70 g (2.5 oz)88 g (3.1 oz)100 g (3.5 oz 100 g (3.5 oz)
Calories290310290270330320330
Total Fat9 g10 g9 g15 g15 g14 g9 g
Saturated Fat2.5 g2.5 g2.5g5 g5 g4.5 g3 g
Trans Fat1.5 g1.5 g2 g1 g2 g2 g2 g
Cholesterol15 mg0 mg20 mg20 mg20 mg10 mgN/A
Sodium680 mg820 mg670 mg580 mg690 mg730 mg430 mg
Total Carbohydrates41 g36 g41 g25 g37 g39 g49 g
Dietary Fiber2 g5 g2 g1 g2 g2 g4 g
Sugars8 g3 g8 g0 g0 g3 g16 g
Protein12 g11 g11 g10 g12 g11 g6 g

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Bridgford Ready to Eat Sandwiches or "sandwiches" are packaged sandwiches that can be stored on the shelf for several years. The sandwiches can be eaten straight out of their packaging or they can be heated in a variety of methods according to my own preferences. The sandwiches do come in cardboard containers with 4 individually packaged sandwiches each except for the Cinnamon Bun and the Italian Soy Marinara, which come separately.

The sandwiches were originally developed for the US Military, and the packaging resembles the "MRE" or "Meals Ready to Eat" packaging that I have seen before. According to the manufacturer, the sandwiches have a shelf life of 3 years if stored at 80 F (27 C). If stored at 100 F (38 C), the shelf life is reduced drastically to only 6 months. Since I will be storing these in my kitchen pantry, I don't think this will be a problem!

Each packet has a nutritional label either printed on the plastic wrapper or else it is affixed to the wrapper with a sticker.

I have not had a chance to sample a sandwich for a couple of personal reason; I am generally excited about using these on the trail. The sandwiches don't seem too heavy, although the packaging is a little bulky.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The manufacturer provided detailed instructions on how to heat up the sandwiches if I choose to. I would not normally heat up sandwiches on the trail since my preference for carrying sandwiches stems from a desire for a quick meal. However I am curious to know if it will make an impact on the taste or the enjoyment of the sandwiches.

According to the manufacturer, I can heat the sandwiches by using an MRE or Flameless Heater. I can also boil the packet in water for 6 minutes. Or I could choose to microwave on high for 20-30 seconds. I can evenput them in a toaster oven at 350 F (180 C) for 8 to 10 minutes. Of course those are just recommended heating times, but with so many choices I may have to try one out after heating it!

I found the information on the website easy to read and laid out in a logical manner.

SUMMARY

I am excited about trying out the Bridgford Ready to Eat Sandwiches. I have been searching for easy to pack lunches for backpacking and day hikes and these certainly fit the bill! The packaging seems a little big, but not too excessive for my needs. With a total of 56 sandwiches to consume for this test, I have my work cut out for me!

I would like to extend my thanks to Bridgford Foods as well as the folks at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this test series.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Since receiving the sandwiches I have eaten at least one sandwich a week while going for a lunchtime run or mountain bike ride. but more importantly it has accompanied me on seven trips backpacking or car camping trips. I took 4 day hikes and 10 mountain bike rides between 3 and 10 mi (5 and 16 km) each.

My first backpacking trip was an overnight to Bushnell Lakes in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness in Colorado. This out and back trail of 10 mi (16 km) started off at 7,700 ft (2,350 m) with a good clean, but rocky trail and ended in several feet of snow at 12,000 ft (3,660 m). The weather was clear at times, but cloudy with light snow. Temperatures ranged from 30 to 60 F (-1 to 16 C).

The second trip I took was actually in the same vicinity but a different drainage and followed Big Cottonwood Creek up to 11,000 ft (3,350 M) over 10 mi (16 km). There was a fair amount of bushwhacking through aspen and subalpine forests with plenty of deep snow in the upper basin. Overall the temperatures were mild, between 40 and 70 F (4 and 21 C).

My next trip was a warm up for my summit attempts this spring and summer near Mount Elbert in the San Isabel Forest of Colorado. This steep trail had a little of everything - rocks, snow, creeks - starting at 9,700 ft (2,960 m). I camped at 12,000 ft (3,660 m) and awoke to 6 in (15 cm) of fresh snow. Altogether, I hiked 7 mi (11 km) on this hike.

My fourth trip was along the Hells Hole Trail in the Arapaho National forest in Colorado. While I didn't plan for it to be a winter-type trip, snowfall a couple days before made it into a mixed trail of mud and snow. While the temperatures were great at 40 - 65 F (4 - 18 C) it was a little windy. Well, quite windy actually. The round trip was 9 mi (14.5 km).

I then took a weekend trip to Missouri Mountain in the San Isabel National Forest for a gathering of hikers. While we car camped, we also hiked a lot, including a 12 mi (19 km) out and back to the 14,067 ft (4,288 m) peak. Temperatures were pretty mild for the season with daytime temperatures around 50 F (10 C) and sunshine all around.

My next trip was a three day trip to the Goblin Valley State Park area in Utah. While the temperatures were warm and the sun was plentiful, the wind was incredibly outrageous. We ended up hiking in some slot canyons to try and escape the wind, which was successful, but relaxing at our campsite it was again miserable when we were exposed.

My final trip was an overnight to the San Juan National Forest in Colorado to hike Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks. I encountered snow a little earlier along the route than I expected but managed to find a good spot to camp in the trees. Temperatures were from 35 to 50 F (2 to 10 C) and clear skies. Other than the hike in, I was on snow for much of the 12 mi (19 km) hike.

The day hikes and bike rides I took were all in the San Isabel Forest vicinity but were beautiful trails; weather and conditions.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

boiling
Smoking hot sandwiches!
With all those high calorie burning adventures I would have thought I could consume all of the sandwiches. As hard as I tried, I just couldn't do it. I attribute this to a slightly lower appetite I have at high altitudes over 12,500 ft (3,800 m). I just find that I don't eat a lot at those heights and shouldn't really reflect on the quality of the sandwiches. Overall, I have enjoyed many of the flavors and would love to continue eating the sandwiches.

I do find that the sandwiches are very handy to use on shorter hikes. The packaging is not too bulky for a day hike, but when I went for longer hikes of two days or more, I found that they took up more space than I would normally look for with a lunch-type item.

I found that I enjoy the sandwiches a little better when they were heated. This was especially true of the Cinnamon Bun flavor. There is something comforting about eating a warm meal for breakfast, which is when I ate these sandwiches. To heat the sandwiches, I followed the manufacturer's directions to heat in boiling water. The nice benefit of this was that I could get water ready for coffee as well as heat up my breakfast! The picture to the right shows one of the sandwiches being heated in one of my stoves.

Some of the sandwiches were more up my alley than others. In general, there was far more bread than I preferred compared to the fillings which made the sandwiches seem dry. I brought along various sauces to dip the sandwiches into, such as ranch and additional marinara sauce. This certainly helped, but defeated the convenience factor. Here are some thoughts on the flavors of each, in no particular order.

BBQ Chicken
The BBQ sauce is a sweet sauce with only a hint of tanginess. These sandwiches have a generous portion of filling compared to the others. I did find the sandwiches to have a bit of a saltiness too, but I really liked the BBQ Chicken flavor.

Italian Soy Marinara
I was a vegetarian for 20 years until 2 years ago, so I was perfectly prepared to enjoy a meat-free sandwich. However I found this flavor to be almost inedible. I'm not sure exactly why because the marinara sauce seems to be the same as in other sandwiches. I did find that the filling was a little on the light side, which made the sandwich very dense and dry. When paired with plain water I did not enjoy it at all. With a gatorade I found it easier to "wash down."

BBQ Beef
This sandwich was similar to the chicken version but has a little more "kick" to it. It certainly did not rise to the level of spicy, but perhaps had a little more vinegar in the BBQ sauce that made this sandwich enjoyable. The sauce was really great in a warm sandwich.

Pepperoni
I was very excited to try this sandwich out! Growing up in an Italian home I loved pepperoni and all things spicy. However, the filling is a single stick of pepperoni that was barely wider than 1 cm (0.4 in). There was very little sauce to go with the pepperoni so the result was a dry let down. The pepperoni was a tasty bright spot but was not enough to carry the load. Add another stick please!

Bacon/Cheese
The cheese-flavored bread was a nice change of pace for this series. While I didn't expect crispy hot bacon, the flavor of the bacon was a bit muted; perhaps from sitting in the bread. The filling would have benefited from either a nice sauce or a complimentary element.

Italian
The Italian was not as spicy as the contents would have suggested. When I ate the sandwich without heating it, the sauce remained dense and resulted in a more dry sandwich. Heating this sandwich greatly enhanced the flavor elements and the quality of the sandwich.

Cinnamon Bun
This flavor is a definite winner in my opinion. While lacking the frosting on top, the filling is a great blend of sweet and spice. The filling is proportionate and when heated it has a "melt in my mouth" quality!

SUMMARY

Overall I really enjoyed this test series. I found that in almost all cases I enjoyed the sandwiches more when I warmed them up first, but many of them are tasty regardless. I wasn't sure how I would enjoy preserved food such as this, but they are actually not too bad. Certainly not on par with the local deli, but after miles of hiking, they taste amazing!

Things I like:


  • Very convenient!
  • In general the taste is good to great
  • Doesn't take a lot to heat up and can be done while doing other chores (morning coffee, purifying water, etc.)
  • Durable in a pack, even after several days

Things I didn't like:

  • Some of the flavors
  • Seems a little dry because of the amount of bread


As I mentioned before I definitely plan to keep several of the sandwiches on hand for my upcoming trips. I would like to take the opportunity to thank Bridgford Foods for their generosity as well as the folks at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this series.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

Read more reviews of Bridgford Foods gear
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Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > Bridgford Read-to-Eat Sandwiches > Test Report by Brett Haydin



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