The Crust of the Matter

Ever heard of Smucker’s Uncrustables for kids? These frozen peanut butter sandwiches (of dubious nutritional caliber) come in a variety of flavors, are made from whole wheat or white crustless bread, and are thawed out an hour or two before lunch or snacktime.

I bring this up because earlier this week I read a brief post over at Bargain Briana about a kitchen tool that lets you make your own Uncrustables-style sealed pocket sandwiches. I read the article and promptly left a comment hoping to generate a little discussion on the broader topic of cutting crusts. Frankly, I’m kinda miffed that Briana apparently not only opted to toss out my comment, but didn’t even email me. Okay, fair enough—her blog, her prerogative. Perhaps she just didn’t want to get mired down in the dicey, controversial waters of crust-cutting. So, I thought I’d broach the topic here:

Let’s not mince words: I’m opposed to the idea of cutting crusts off of sandwiches for kids on a number of levels:

  1. Babies don’t come out of the chute with an inbred hatred of bread crusts; parents implant that notion. Why foster the idea that crusts are bad?
  2. Crust-cutting not only creates more work for harried parents, but unnecessary waste as well. Why instill the expectation that someone will always gladly take the time to needlessly trim off and discard an otherwise good portion of a sandwich?
  3. The crust is the most nutritious part of bread, containing 8 times more antioxidants and more dietary fiber, which helps prevent colon cancer! Why wouldn’t you want your kid(s) to have the full benefit of the foods you’ve chosen (and paid hard-earned money) for them to eat?
  4. And lastly, in support of my pro-crust position, I offer the following:

    If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars [and] heavens.
    —English poet, Robert Browning (1812-1889)

  5. But maybe I’m missing something here. Is there a valid reason for crust-cutting that simply eludes me? Am I some kinda retrograde Luddite or just being downright negligent by not trimming the nefarious crusts off of Liam’s otherwise delicious sammiches?

    So, what do you think? Do you cut the crusts off of your kids’ bread?


  1. I don’t always cut the crust off, and my kids will eat it with no problem, but I do occasionally use my own tools to cut shapes into their sandwiches just to keep it fun and keep them guessing as to what is in their lunchbox which generally cuts off the crust in the process. I don’t buy the Uncrustables, quite frankly because I don’t like them, but I make my own sometimes with the tool from Pampered Chef. My kids are good either way, they like the shapes more than they care about the crust.

  2. I’ll admit, I was on swooning over a cool little gizmo I saw at Wal-Mart to cut 2 dolphin shapes out of a sandwich, but then Dede snapped me out of it.

    Those Uncrustables are pitched at super-busy Moms, but really c’mon, how much time does it take to whip up a PBJ? Sheesh!

  3. We cut the crusts off and make pin wheels out of them to eat. That is how we did it as kids and everyone would fight over them. I just don’t have room in my freezer for them.

  4. I have never cut the crust off the bread. My kids are now 11 & 14 and both my kids love crusty bread and rolls. Would they have had that appreciation for crusty bread if I deprived them of such when they were little, not sure, but I am guessing not. Sorry, but I think crustless bread is unnatural. And don’t get me started on the peeling of apples 🙂

  5. Couldn’t agree more, Michelle – we’re big apple-lovers here! I do core & cut them to make it easier for Liam, but we eat all of the apple except the seeds. (By the way, a melon baller makes scooping out the middle of the apple easy peasy – much quicker and with less waste than a paring knife.)

  6. Thanks for your comment on my own post about crusts. I think this is a bit of a funny soapbox, but… here it is 🙂

    I totally disagree with #1… It has to do with texture and preference. It is a ridiculous notion. I made my little ones eat it, and no matter what – they have HATED crusts. And honestly, I don’t like crusts either. I make myself eat it (50% of the time) because I know #3 to be true. We have gone round and round as a family. Since they were little. It’s only been recently I have given over.

    And I wonder… is it THAT much more nutrients… Really. Seriously. When weighed against the fight to make a kid eat something they hate. I fight for broccoli, but not crusts. We all make our concessions.

    I totally agree with #2. It’s another step. I am ALL about saving a step. But I also know that when they are at school, they are not eating the crusts and the lunch ladies are not the parents… and I need my kids to get enough to eat. Simply… if the crusts are removed, my kids get more of the sandwich… more meat, more cheese, more lettuce, even more peanut butter… All nutrients they need. As for the fiber they miss from the crusts – pears. They rock. Way more fiber in a pear than in discarded crust.

  7. Nope, we don’t cut crusts, peel apples or add chocolate to milk to make the kiddos eat more healthy foods. They have just always been given foods that are healthy! They prefer salad to fries and milk to soda! Allyson and Hailey (8 and 5) are so health conscious that when we shop and they see others with baskets full of soda, chips, cookies, candy, etc. They point out the fact that “Hey, Mom those people have a cart full of SOMETIMES food! Don’t they know you only eat that junk sometimes?!”….usually more loudly than I would like!

    We have done Uncrustables because they are nice for road trips, not for ease of preparation but for the fact they start out frozen and keep everything nice and chilled so there is no need for ice packs! Also, you can get Uncrustables that are whole wheat with peanut butter and honey. Yummy. Of course only 50% of my children will even eat the Uncrustables because they would rather have a crusted sandwich!

    Also, we have a couple of dinnertime rules in our house:

    1. If you haven’t tasted it, you have no idea if you like it so at least try 2 bites.
    2. Never say I don’t like, instead say “I don’t care for this” or “This is not my favorite”. I have discovered when someone says I don’t like, it is contagious and then No One likes it.
    3. If you are full…stop eating. I know, that sounds like a given but I can’t stand parents who encourage (force is more like it) their children to clean their plates!
    4. We eat to live, we don’t live to eat. Not every meal will be our favorite.

    Don’t get me wrong, they do enjoy candy on Holidays and love carnival food. They are not deprived of junk food in any way, they have learned what sometimes food are and why we eat those foods sometimes!

    Ok, that is all 😉

  8. I was vehemently anti crust-cutting before I had a kid of my own. And then that kid, of her own volition, decided that she hated crusts. HATED. THEM. Where she got the idea, I don’t know. Maybe at daycare. Maybe she just legitimately doesn’t like crusts. Which I can understand – they’re not my favourite part of the sandwich, although I’ve always eaten them.

    Anyways, said daughter also happened to be very petite. And I worried about that. When she refused to eat be-crusted sandwiches, eventually I caved in. Because I wanted her to JUST EAT SOMETHING ALREADY.

    I don’t really think that cutting crusts is either here or there. As parents, we all do things that are kind of ridiculous, and that we swore we’d never do. That’s the nature of living something in practice, rather than just considering it in theory. At some point, you have to ask whether sticking to your guns is actually serving your best interest or not. For me, with that kid, refusing to cut crusts wasn’t that way. With my second child, it might be. Only time will tell.

  9. I concur. You’ll eat the crust and like it. Frozen PB&J? It’s too much trouble to spoon it out of the jar?
    My daughter used to ask me if she had to eat “that.” I said no. When she asked what else there was, I said “nothing.”

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