Less Than Meets The Eye: Convenience Store Sandwiches

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When short on time or in need of an immediate cure to the hungry bug, a common solution can be found in convenience stores. They’re always right around the corner and stocked full of foods that look good, taste good, and are ready to be purchased. With so many choices available, the packaged sandwich has become a popular item among many consumers. Its popularity stems from the fact that it offers variety, convenience to eat on the move, a visually-pleasing cross-section cut presentation, and most importantly, an inexpensive price.

Perhaps in the past, you have picked up a sandwich from the convenience store based on one of reasons mentioned above. However, after consuming the sandwich, have you really considered the actual value you got from your purchase? Today on MUSUBI, let’s take a look at the inside of some of the most popular packaged sandwiches found in most every convenience stores, and decide if you are truly getting the most bang for your buck. Why? Well, how many other places are you going to be able to read an in-depth analysis of Japanese convenience store sandwiches, right?

First up is the Chicken Katsu Sandwich, Chicken Katsu is a breaded chicken cutlet that has been deep fried to give it a crunchy texture. It is a common dish in many Japanese households and a very popular item on the school lunch menu among many Japanese students.

The cutlets are covered in a savory sauce while accompanied with shredded cabbage to help ease the oily grease during digestion. As you can see from the photo, the Chicken Katsu took up most of the sandwich space and finished off with the cabbages filled to the brim. At the usual price of around 298 yen, the Chicken Katsu Sandwich checks off all the boxes of a value bite.

Next up is the pork ham and cucumber sandwich. Just as there is no mystery to its name, anyone would assume there should be ham slices and cucumbers inside the sandwich.

Upon opening the sandwich up, it certainly tells a different story as the sandwich is lightly sprinkled with tiny cucumber slices at the edge of the cross section to give the sandwich more colors and the illusion of a lot more cucumbers inside. However, to the sandwich’s defense, it is called a “Juicy Ham” sandwich in Japanese. So, the sandwich was not falsely advertised that there would be a lot more cucumbers than ham slices. At the cost of around 250 yen, perhaps not as good a value as the Chicken Katsu Sandwich though.

The last sandwich we will be looking at is the infamous “Atsu Yaki Tamago Mix Sand“. When translated to English, its “Thick Omelet Mixed Sandwich.” Like its English name implies, Atsu Yaki Tamago is a Japanese style omelet cooked in thick layers and seasoned with a sugar to give it a sweeter taste. It is also a famous traditional side dish in both household and lunch menus.

Although it’s a popular item, it has also been infamously labeled as the “Paper Tiger Sandwich.” The nickname stems from the false representation the cross-cut design of the sandwich gives off. A long thin piece of the egg is placed at the center cut while a smaller slice of the omelet is at the rear. Similar to the Ham sandwich, the Omelet sandwich is made to look like there’s a lot more egg from the outside than there really is inside. It’s harder to justify than the others, and at the price of 310 yen, it’s the most expensive of the 3 sandwiches.

Based on the highly competitive nature of the convenience store industry, it is a common practice for companies to avoid raising the prices by downsizing its products. As a result, presentation tricks are used to cover up the changes made by the reduced cost. Even with that said, consumers expect companies to be trustworthy when they are making their purchase.

Perhaps convenience store companies should try to be more transparent with their products as customers have the right to know what they are getting
for their money. Next time when you visit a convenience store for a quick bite, think carefully before making your selection, to make sure you get the most for your money!

MUSUBI Editor’s note: When in doubt, go with the BLT, Sauce Katsu or Egg Salad sandwiches. You can never go wrong with those.

Photos provided by Boris Chan. Cover image courtesy of LuckyLife11 via Pixabay.

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Boris Chan

From Canada
Has lived Japan for 9 years!