I long for, pine for, dream about, lust after, recall with such immense fondness the micro-waveable sandwich I savored in the 70s until it mysteriously disappeared sometime in the early 80s.
Available at many stop-n-rob convenience stores the length and breadth of the USA (including many truck stop in-house convenience-type stores) those divine concoctions were rather pricey but their unique taste sent my liver quivering in spasms of delight.
Longer than wide the soy-filled semi-meat patty tasted akin to the grade-school cafeteria burgers of the 1960s I slavered over.
The french roll-type bun was also good but what set the concoction apart from the herd was the brown gravy-type goop atop the faux meat.
Rather thick and not prone to dripping upon one’s attire that gravy-like glop was TASTY!!!!!!!!!!!
I recall a couple different names for my beloved; the Wrangler and the Longhorn, with the name varying in different geographical locales.
So awesomely YUMMY!!!!!!!!!!
I desire them, crave them but THEY DISAPPEARED!!!!!!!!!!
This was back in the days when microwave ovens were rather new in quicky-stores.
Some of this sandwich type relied upon the old-style heater-uppers using heating elements glowing red-hot vice microwaves bouncing around an enclosed space.
That heating method took a lot longer to heat the blessed bliss but the wait was worth it.
For whatever reason I detected no taste improvement via conventional vice microwave heating.
After departing the trucking profession for the first time, returning to northern California, my old stomping ground, a few outlets in that area offered my beloved concoctions though I can not recall exactly what their name(s) were in that area but I could identify the delight by its wrapper and shape within the cooler area of the selling unit.
Due to the, to me, relatively high price, especially as price inflation and wage deflation led to a minimalistic discretionary income that in turn commenced a life-long entry into the working-poor socio-economic class (along with a multitude of other USA citizens), I was forced to shun my delicious beloved delight.
Sighting the sandwich as I passed by to the four-for-a-buck on-sale hot dogs with the well-laden concoction table offering ample onions, tomatoes and a herd of other toppings whose vegetable origin added valuable vitamins, roughage, etc. I told myself I would, when finances allowed, grab me another, nuke it, and sit in my car/bedroom (this was a period when ever-rising rents led to my being forced to use the car as a bedroom with a young family with three kids fawned over the couple hundred bucks I kicked in monthly to assist in paying the sky-high rent in the gang-infested neighborhood (the only place where “affordable” rents could be found in that region) allowing me access to cleaning facilities, the telephone, some TV watching but a lack of space precluded sleeping there and cooking had to be done between their need for access. Minimal and, at times, no space in the fridge for me, led to many meals purchases on-the-cheap at a local “stop-n-rob” that catered to the ever-growing number of poor and homeless in that area.
The cost of eating there, if done selectively, was not a budget breaker, unlike so many greedy convenience stores of today.
Is it possible the proprietor actually priced some of his offerings to make a profit but also assist his fellow humans down on their luck?
Quite possible and bless him if that was his intention!!!
When Christmas rolled around or my birthday and if one of the kin mailed me a few bucks (what a blessing that was!!!) I always filled the car with gas, paid ahead a bit on the rent and, when affordable, I grabbed one of the very few affordable, yet rare joys, left in my life… a Longhorn sandwich (that tickles my recall neuron as being the name used in that locale).
Sitting in my car, parked to the side of the lot, I would require 20 minutes or more to slooowly not devour my present to myself.
Why scarf, devour, wolf down something so tasty?
Savor, let my tongue tease the ingredients, basking in the wondrous delight entering my mainly in those days taste unsated body?
Perhaps the rarity of the best sandwich ever entering my realm caused me to overlook its decline then demise.
Was it some time in the later 1980s I noticed a lack of Wrangler/Longhorns in the cold storage section of the local convenience stores?
Some stores kept them in the refrigerated area while others placed them in the freezer. Frozen ones obviously took longer to heat but heat they did and were just as yummifying as their merely chilled brethren.
Another venture in long-haul freight-hailing, this time in 15 western states, provided the opportunity to find possible other sources of my beloved comestible but lo! None were to be found!
I looked everywhere they may have resided in every munchy outlet I had access to while my 18-wheeler wandered and where those delightful concoctions may have been offered but, alas. Nada, zilch, nothing.
The cold, hard realization my longing would remain unfulfilled impacted me akin to a multi-megaton detonation above an innocent Pacific Ocean atoll.
When the economics of trucking sent me financially reeling back into an abyss of semi-employment and left me in a limited geographical area it was with the knowledge my few available pleasures would include a continued lack of my favorite food.
When Web access became available to the general masses and I realized the possibility that the far-reaching inquisitiveness of the Web might lead me to a source of my gustatory desire or, perhaps, knowledge of what DID happen to the Wrangler/Longhorn, I was stunned that no information appeared; despite intensive seeking and the use of many seemingly appropriate keywords in my searching.
Image searches were also futile.
Queries for information left at a wide variety of message boards offered no help.
Amazed, I made it a point to repeat the searches over time, hoping that somewhere, a new entry upon the Web would provide the info I sought but… as the years passed, as with my desire for that long-ago taste, I remained unsated.
To this day the fate of my desire remains unknown to me.
Neither a source somewhere is to be found or even a note to inform me why such a wonderful culinary concoction disappeared like the dinosaurs, gone from the Earth’s surface.
Baffled I was and baffled I remain.
With only memories to fill me.