(There is a gargantuan icebox in my garage stocked with stale puff pastry, empty pyrex containers, batteries, vodka and a TON of Schwan's flash-frozen food. I'm kind of like the Dylan Thomas of Schwan's.)
As a kid, I was green with envy when I saw my friend, Emily, was having actual ice cream delivered to her front door. I just could not believe she didn't have to leave her red-brick home to get a half-gallon of soft-serve. “This is bullshit.” I mumbled. “We don't even have an ice cream truck in my neighborhood. Just a snow cone van that smells like mayonnaise and sells pink ice.” Emily handed me a Chocolate Sundae Crunch bar. “Gross.” She commented. “Well we get ice cream and real food from Mr. Schwan's truck. Both are dope.” I ate my crunch bar, hopped on my Huffy bicycle and motored down the street toward my house. I had to inform my mom about this whole Schwan's business. After loads of begging, my mom caved and we soon became loyal costumers.
If you haven't experienced Schwan's, it is a company that sells frozen food from home delivery trucks. The trucks are a tacky jonquil and plastered with food pictures, slogans and the requisite swan emblem. The vehicle houses a pantry of ice lockers and is stocked with every imaginable food novelty from funnel cake fries to sweet bourbon glazed chicken.*
Schwan's man, Bert, delivers food to my house once every two weeks. Today, he rang the doorbell and I jumped out of my desk to greet him, happy to have a distraction from the medical mumbo-jumbo I should have been committing to the mental rolodex. I grabbed my wallet from my backpack and opened the door wearing my study attire: cheer shorts, UGG boots and a massive Thialand Hard Rock hotel t-shirt. ( Bert's professional accoutrements are a hybrid of a postal worker uniform and an air conditioner repairman's jumpsuit; I feel like he can never judge my outfits.)
“Howdy Bert!! Did you bring me Dinner?” I asked. “Yes mam, we also have a couple of new options.” he said, handing me a copy of the catalog. Bert makes me laugh. He is a preciously odd Mister Rodgers' Neighborhod type who suffers from almost fatal shyness. Bert also has the personality of a rusty Folgers coffee can, looks like Tom Amandes and can talk forever about Schwan's food and his family. “Bert, you should really show up at my house with dancing penguins and Mary Poppins flying in the background.” He awkwardly smiled.
“Well, I think I'm going to go with lasagna, garlic toast, a couple of vegetables, steak bites, strawberry ice cream and french toast sticks.” I said as I did some quick addition and handed him cash. “Very good, mam.” he replied. “I'll go get the food out of the truck and put it in your freezer.” “Mucho appreciado, Bert. Bring your chimney sweep next time” “ Yes, mam. I just forgot it this week.” He said as he smacked the palm of his hand against the side of his forehead.
I scampered back to my room to put my now cashless wallet away and pulled out my books so I could study again. After an hour of staring at the inner workings of the kidney, I was super bored. Switch subjects? Hells no. Break into the Schwan's boxes? Duh!
I headed to the freezer to fetch the foodstuffs.
Lasagna and garlic toast- Who actually makes homemade lasagna? Not I Rabi!
In my opinion, making lasagna is better as an idea not as an actual act. Like paint by numbers or exercise. Stirring homemade marinara over an open flame, sauteing thyme and oregano with ground chuck and rolling out pasta like a legit Top Chef all-star sounds fantastic. But, since it is hardwired in my DNA to royally screw-up a dish of that caliber, I will pass. Luckily, with Schwan's, you can just rip and dump. woot woot!
Packaging: I want to give props to the packaging of these frozen dishes! I love the fact Schwan's dinners are sold mostly in boxes. Good and solid boxes, too, perhaps even superlative and Container Store worthy. And not only can you recycle them in the good-for-the-earth kind of way, you can recycle them as Christmas boxes and storage units. Winner!
On taste: The taste is super marinara-y and less bold cheese. The bread is also a great buffer to soak up the saucy juice. Of course, if you cook the dish too long the liquid hardens and it taste like plastic; this is a hazard with all frozen food. However, if you heat this sucker properly it is a real slice of scrumptious. I would cautiously say it is as good as any restaurant.**
Ice Cream: Deliverable ice cream is the sluttiest thing since the milk man's glass bottle. It's like Schwan's is a brothel on wheels and they have a trick for everyone. Way more than 32!! The ice cream is all delicious too.
On taste: Strawberry is kind of like the super slut. I decided to go with it because I was, clearly, feeling extra sassy and sexy in my UGG boots and unwashed attire. I am an ice cream enthusiast and this stuff is saturated, sweet, lactose goodness. The strawberry flavor is light and reminds me of a thick Steak 'n Shake milk-shake. Also, the fruit chunks aren't too big so the seeds will not stick in between your teeth. All in all, an solid frozen novelty.***
Vegetables: I have to take vegetables very serious because I have a tendency to live on a diet of pop-tarts. I have issues consuming anything naturally green and only eat veggies because my body has this annoying need for vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, et cetera. However, if you like these earthy side items, Schwan's has an array of them and they are even available in several mixes.
On taste: My opinion of vegetables is basically limited to edible or not. So, as far as vegetables go, these are good and definitely edible. You can even grill 'em.
P.S- I also bought steak bites and french toast sticks.
The french toast sticks are soft, doughy, fried deliciousness encased in an apple-cinnamon blanket. Amazing! Sharks should have a week dedicated to this version of french toast.
I don't like the steak bites; they look like shit droppings from a platypus and taste kind of rubbery.
*I don't know who is responsible for coming up with all of the different Schwan's options, but whoever you are, you deserve a golden egg.
**I am from America. So, my lasagna standards are low and unhealthy.
*** Blue Bell is still has the BEST ice cream, everrrrrrr!