I never formally announced this, but this October I’m attempting to make, buy, do, or otherwise enjoy one Halloween thing every single day that I’ve never done before. I’m not going to write about them every day, but I will eventually report the experiences. That’s my goal. It should be noted that I have attempted this exact kind of daily celebration in the past, and have met with 100% failure. Thirty-one straight days is a lot of time for things to go wrong. And with that in mind, this this god awful burger was actually perfect.
If you’re at all familiar with Roll For Sandwich, you already know where this is going: I’m going assign numbers to available ingredients, I’m going to roll some dice, and the ingredient that corresponds to the number I rolled goes on my burger. Only this was very spur of the moment, so I didn’t exactly prepare. I brought a burger to work for lunch and, on a whim, decided to use the few groceries I picked up before work as toppings.
It was a fun idea, but I didn’t have enough ingredients in the office to make a decent, Dungeons & Dragons-style random table. So I had to improvise. And by improvise I mean steal things from the break room fridge. I know… I’m the shittiest kind of coworker. But I got what was coming to me. Their food had its revenge. Believe me.
“At the beginning of this series, I committed that whatever creation I make, I’m gonna eat the whole sandwich. If there’s no consequences for the rolls that I’m doing, then what’s the point? Like if I can roll up a terrible sandwich and then just decide not to eat it, there’s no stakes. Also, there’s a ton of food waste on TikTok of people just making horrendous things, just to get clicks and views, and then all of that’s going in the garbage. And that’s terrible. I know what it’s like to be on a budget, to not be able to afford food sometimes. Food has value.” – Jake Pauwels, Roll For Sandwich
In order to pay proper tribute to Jake’s creation, I decided to honor his wish to eliminate food waste. It’s a movement I happen to believe in, since nearly half of all food harvested and prepared in the United States goes from farm to consumer to the trash. Our food system is ridiculously wasteful, so, like Jake, whatever I roll I am going to eat, no matter how nasty.
Roll For Sandwich is a great concept, but there’s nothing particularly Halloween about it. So I’m gonna have to spook it up. First off, meet Spectra (they/them/their). Spectra is our latest Halloween mascot, and a welcome addition to our celebration. In keeping with the thing-a-day theme, one of the new experiences I’m trying today is Pumpkin Spice Coffee mate. And, yes, that’s the way they spell it. If the awkward appearance of the space and lower case ‘m’ bothers you, I sympathize. I don’t care for it either.
I usually like my coffee like I like my soul: black and ice cold. And when I have had flavored creamers, I don’t think Coffee mate has ever been one of them. But if you’re going to flavor your coffee during the pumpkin spice season, believe me when I say USE THIS STUFF. It is fantastic. I can give it no better review than the actual words that involuntarily spilled out of my mouth when I took my first sip: “Fuck me in the FACE, that is good!” I give Coffee mate® Pumpkin Spice Liquid Coffee Creamer an 8 out of 10. Delicious!
If you read my article “Welcome to the Nerd Sanctuary!” you saw my first Halloween entry, my review of Draculus. In that piece, I mentioned my Halloween colored dice but I didn’t have a picture. Here they are in their full glory. The picture came out weirdly tinted, which I could not for the life of me fully correct. Trust me when I say the purple bags and dice are vivid purple, not the washed out, overly blue you see here. I blame Spectra and their momentary blue light. Get your shit together, ghost!
Next, I took inventory of my groceries and scrounged around the break room for additional ingredients. Then I wrote up this random table to roll on. Not the most expansive list of options, I grant you, but it should suffice for a spur of the moment burger roll. Let’s go!
First up: roll for bread. Yes! This is exactly what I was hoping for. No better way to Halloween things up than with jack-o’-lantern shaped food. I was fully prepared to choose this if I had rolled a six, but I didn’t need to. The spirits were with me.
In keeping with the no waste ideology, I scraped all the toppings and condiments off the buns and onto the burger. Then, because my mind doesn’t work well, I turned around and threw the buns straight in the trash. I didn’t even think about it, I just tossed them. Jake’s right, this casual disposal of perfectly edible food is a problem. I didn’t even realize I was doing it.
Next up, roll for cheese. This was one of my scrounged ingredients, but I didn’t feel much guilt about stealing this. It had been in the fridge for so long that I was sincerely worried I would open it up and find nothing but mold.
Fortunately I found just enough cream cheese to top one of the Pumpkin Delights. I was feeling pretty good about this roll. Cream cheese frosting pairs well with spice cakes, which is essentially what Pumpkin Delights are. I was confident this would work.
Normally there is a roll for roughage x2 segment in Roll For Sandwich, but break room fridges are notoriously void of healthy food. I didn’t find a single vegetable. So I rolled twice on my Wild Magic table, a list of flavorful add-ons meant to punch up the excitement of the sandwich. I was certain smokehouse almonds would provide a nice crunch and flavor, and I think they were a good choice for a sandwich. The ramen packet, though…
I was so confident when I strolled to the kitchenette to retrieve the packet. Smug, almost. My stroll was very nearly a strut. We only have beef ramen in there, which I thought would enhance the burger flavor. But I’ve only ever dumped ramen packets into ramen water. I never realized how MUCH there is in these packets. And it’s mostly salt. It covered the cream cheese almost entirely before I added the rest to the almonds. This was when my confidence exited the building. I’m sensitive to excess salt, and this was excessive in the extreme. This felt like a problem.
Well, this was a relief. Since I was a kid I’ve known that mustard can cover over all sorts of culinary sins. Whenever I was forced to eat liver, I would wash it down with a stiff mustard chaser. It was the only way to get through it. Maybe the mustard would negate some of the salt. Somehow. Please?
Even with the mustard, I could tell this was gonna be bad.
And here’s the cross section. Ugh. This thing was barely holding together. This was not going to be good.
Well, I finished it. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It was so much worse. The Pumpkin Delights and cream cheese combined to taste EXACTLY like a super-sweet carrot cake, covered in massive amounts of salt. The smoke flavor from the almonds was the perfect way to add another clashing note to this already awful combination. Nothing worked together in any positive way. And the texture was just mushy. Every once in a while there was the brief, vegetal crunch of an onion, but the original burger ingredients were completely lost in this terrible, terrible wad of evil. Flavor wise, there might as well not have been a burger in there at all. Each of these ingredients is enjoyable on its own, but together… no. This was just bad.
Jake has taken to naming his creations, so I’ve followed suit. I almost gagged once trying to force this thing down. I was able to keep it under control, but just barely. I didn’t have to wait around to see how the universe would punish me for stealing from the break room. No, this was instant karma. And the irony is that the ramen is purchased by the company for anyone to have. I destroyed my burger with the one ingredient I was actually allowed to take. Message received, universe. It won’t happen again. Don’t do this to your burger, people. Let my mistakes be a lesson to you. Just don’t.
If you want to see the random sandwich making, Dungeons & Dragons mastering, fantasy novel writing OG himself in action, then click the pic and head on over to Roll For Sandwich. And tell Jake The Sci-Fi Guys sent ya!