2001: A Space Sandwich Odyssey

Most couples have a romantic “I knew (s)he was the one” moment. The moment is usually arbitrary, but romantic nonetheless. Well my husband and I had a simultaneous, “(S)he’s the one!” moment while watching 2001: A Space Odyssey, sitting on a futon in his dinky grad school student housing apartment almost 8 years ago. But it wasn’t just our “moment” – it was also the inception of the space sandwich.

So you know that scene in 2001 where they’re on the moon, in the Moonbus? And Dr. Bill Michaels offers Dr. Heywood Floyd a sandwich? And after looking at the sandwich, Dr. Heywood Floyd says, “They look pretty good.”

This was my first time ever watching the movie (it’s one of future husband’s favorites) and I was really enjoying it, but I couldn’t help but notice the sandwiches. Those sandwiches – they looked really good.

They looked like the sandwiches I was never given as a kid, but coveted when I saw them unwrapped from the other kids’ lunches: Wonder Bread, with the crusts cut off, with mayonnaise, yellow mustard, a slice of bologna, and a slice of American cheese. The sandwich is white, yellow, pink, and orange – absolutely nothing about that sandwich is natural or nutritious – but I always wanted one, most likely for the sole reason that my mom never made one for me.

I asked future husband to pause the movie, and I turned to him and said, “You know…those sandwiches…they look pretty good.” And he looked at me with huge eyes and says, “I’ve always thought that!” That was it. And so we paused the movie, went to the grocery store, and bought the necessary ingredients for space sandwiches.

On special occasions we break out the movie and some space sandwiches. This year we made a vegetarian version with faux bologna (which tasted suspiciously like regular bologna) for my birthday. Last year we went to one of the best restaurants in DC, but this year, it was Wonder Bread, French’s mustard and mayonnaise (please, no Miracle Whip).

I highly suggest you try a space sandwich sometime soon. There’s something grotesquely comforting about the unnaturally spongy white bread, waxy American cheese slice, and don’t-look-at-the-ingredients bologna. They don’t make the final scene of 2001 any less creepy, but they’re the perfect accompaniment to the movie.

(Photo: Gecko Movies)

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  • ML November 22, 2011  

    My dad used to make me sandwiches like that – white bread, salami, american cheese, and yellow mustard. I don’t know why they were so good and satisfying…

  • Heather November 22, 2011  

    um, i try my damn best to not eat ‘processed’ food- and yet, there is something about a ham or baloney with american cheese/mayo/mustard on white bread that is the BEST thing in the whole freaking world. With a side of ruffles potato chips. best consumed with a coke. omg i want one NOW.

  • Jessica November 22, 2011  

    I’m relieved to know I’m not the only one – some people have looked at me in horror when I’ve described the sandwiches to them. But there really is something about that squishy Wonder Bread and all that processed…deliciousness. Ruffles and a Coke are the PERFECT pairing, I completely agree.

  • erica November 22, 2011  

    once a year i break down and buy a package of vegi bologna, then a go home and eat about five bologna sandwiches within the next 24 hours. also, i gotta say, i still favor american cheese sandwiches over all other cheese sandwiches.

  • Salami S Baloney November 23, 2011  

    Some of you had sad empty childhoods.

  • echo December 24, 2011  

    Not just the sandwiches but the carafe design and cups that give it such a unique addition to the scene. i have been looking for a carafe like that for some time. and i want my coffee and space sandwiches while enjoying this movie.

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