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 Stewart and Other Infrared Cooked Sandwiches B4 Microwaves

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DawnT

  • Total Posts: 1286
  • Joined: 11/29/2005
  • Location: South FL
Stewart and Other Infrared Cooked Sandwiches B4 Microwaves Wed, 04/17/13 11:00 PM (permalink)
The pizzaburger thread brought back the memory of concession  infrared heated sandwiches before microwaves became popular. We tried to have a discussion about this many years ago but it was hijacked by discussions about early microwaves. These all used a special, dual light source, infrared oven that cooked prepared, flash frozen sandwiches packed in a translucent, sealed celophane bag. They could handle many sandwiches at a time. The result wasn't bad at all and vastly better then microwave preparation. The sandwiches came out toasted on the ends, the meat hot, and the bag only suffered a little browning. Many vendors that did batches of sandwiches held them under infrared lighting for immediate sale. Unfortunately, those that weren't sold usually found their way back into the freezer and were reheated again and someone often wound up with a dried out sandwich the next day.
 
How many of you remember these? The original company that sold nationwide franchises was Stewart. I believe a relative of one of the original group that started the company was/is a member of this board. Down here, they seemed to had some sort of problem by the early 70's as most places that sold the Stewart brands changed over to another vendor named Landshire that sold an exact & identical frozen product offering almost overnight. Landshire is still around as a pre-packaged sandwich vendor. I've seen others on the net over the years such as Jimbo's Sandwiches, McKim, & Chef Wiz that used the same formula. I'm sure there were others. They could be found anywhere in convenience stores, snack bars, gas stations, school lunch programs, bars, just about anywhere where HD prohibitions would have made on-site preparation too much of an investment or burden. All these places would furnish the oven and promotional material for free if you subscribed to a scheduled, minimum delivery of their products. Some also delivered a private labeled brand of chips, pretzels, cookies,popcorn, and snacks similar to Lance,Tom's,Lay's or other similar vending products including racks/shelving to create a entire snack bar/lunchroom experience with no more investment then refrigerated storage and somwhere to put the ovens and lights on.   
 
Those of you that remember these, did you have a favorite sandwich? Some of them had a cult following of folks that bemoan their demise to microwaved products. Do you remember any of the names or ingredients?
 
The offerings that I remember included:
 
Ham and yellow american Cheese on Bun
Bbq beef on bun (sort of like little strips in a horrible sauce similar to beef gravy with liquid smoke) 
Regular Hot Dog
Foot  long hot dog with chili and minced onion topping
Grilled Cheese
Hamburger/Cheeseburger/Pizza burger (these were made with what I think was a soy extended beef patty complete with fake grill marking) We called them rubber burgers, but people actually liked them.
Personal pizza before anyone heard of them.
Beef and Bean Burrito
Hoagie that I think was called a Torpedo made from a 6" piece of french roll, cotto salami, bologna, and white american cheese.
 
There were others such as Polish Sausage, a long bun with the same mystery meat burger, but topped with minced onion and a gravy like topping I believe called a Longhorn. These must have not been available in our region, I've only read about these.
 
 
<message edited by DawnT on Wed, 04/17/13 11:07 PM>
 
#1
    ces1948

    • Total Posts: 1499
    • Joined: 8/6/2003
    • Location: Port St Lucie, Fl
    Re:Stewart and Other Infrared Cooked Sandwiches B4 Microwaves Wed, 04/17/13 11:13 PM (permalink)
    My favorite hangout as a teenager in the early 60's was a place called Johnny's Snooker in my hometown of Tulare, Ca. Several pinball machines, pool and snooker tables. The Stewart sandwiches were a real favorite! I definitely recall the hamburger and cheeseburger and pretty sure they had the torpedo. I actually thought they had a sandwich called the slim jim but I may have that confused with something else.
     
    #2
      DawnT

      • Total Posts: 1286
      • Joined: 11/29/2005
      • Location: South FL
      Re:Stewart and Other Infrared Cooked Sandwiches B4 Microwaves Wed, 04/17/13 11:27 PM (permalink)
      I think that rings the bell as the name of the foot long hot dog with chili and onions. Seems to sound right.
       
      #3
        CCJPO

        • Total Posts: 497
        • Joined: 4/20/2003
        • Location: Fallon, NV
        Re:Stewart and Other Infrared Cooked Sandwiches B4 Microwaves Thu, 04/18/13 4:52 AM (permalink)
        Baloney and Cheese - highschool lunchtime staple N.E. Ohio mid 60's
         
        #4
          cavandre

          • Total Posts: 1598
          • Joined: 3/14/2008
          • Location: Melbourne, FL
          Re:Stewart and Other Infrared Cooked Sandwiches B4 Microwaves Thu, 04/18/13 8:36 AM (permalink)
          I remember a couple of bars that had one...I remember them as tasty, but that was always after several drinks.
           
          #5
            kevincad

            • Total Posts: 399
            • Joined: 1/23/2008
            • Location: Snellville, GA
            Re:Stewart and Other Infrared Cooked Sandwiches B4 Microwaves Thu, 04/18/13 10:11 AM (permalink)
            I remember them in the '60's as a kid. The bar my dad frequented had the machine, I was just amazed at the technology! I think they only had ham and cheese and a cheeseburger at the time. 
             
            #6
              mamaduck43

              • Total Posts: 184
              • Joined: 9/15/2008
              • Location: Denmark, WI
              Re:Stewart and Other Infrared Cooked Sandwiches B4 Microwaves Thu, 04/18/13 4:21 PM (permalink)
              About 12 years ago, I made my first train trip in eons and stopped at Union Station in Denver....  They had an infrared 'cooker' and cellophane wrapped sandwiches in a refrigerated vending machine....  They were amazing, and took me back in time quite a bit....  I looked forward to the 'snack bar' on every trip through Denver....  A couple of years later, they had remodeled, and, you guessed it - - the infrared machine was replaced by a microwave!!!!!  Bah....... 
               
              Both machines took about the same amount of time - - not sure about energy, but the infrared machine offered a truly superior product...
               
              #7
                Jennifer_4

                • Total Posts: 1508
                • Joined: 9/19/2000
                • Location: Fresno, CA
                Re:Stewart and Other Infrared Cooked Sandwiches B4 Microwaves Thu, 04/18/13 6:25 PM (permalink)
                thank you for bringing back wonderful memories!  Before my tiny town even had a mini mart,  my parents would "go to town" (the next real city) to the 7-11 and bring me back a "Longhorn".. those were my faves!
                 
                #8
                  DawnT

                  • Total Posts: 1286
                  • Joined: 11/29/2005
                  • Location: South FL
                  Re:Stewart and Other Infrared Cooked Sandwiches B4 Microwaves Thu, 04/18/13 7:59 PM (permalink)
                  I wonder if there's anyone on this board that had any knowledge of the process? There were many imitators of the original and many regional processing plants operated by francisees. The method had merit for advance preparation that was clearly suprerior.  Microwave products never achieved the same level no matter how much food science has been applied. The IR ovens cooked very fast and did many sandwiches in 3-5 minutes from a cold start. That's literally as fast as a microwave.
                   
                  Were the sandwiches flash frozen or just prepared, Doboy flow wrapped , sealed and refrigerated? 
                   
                  What kind of cellophane was used in the wrapping process? It certainly wasn't airtight from what I remember. This must have been partially critical to the warming process as it simultaneously steamed the bread while cooking, but the residual steam also limited the heat temperature. 
                   
                  Was there something about heating the product in the celophane that today would be cited as producing toxic components that would not been used today and the reason nobody has gone back to it ?
                   
                  I remember two types of IR light ovens besides the hot light/display used to hold already prepared sandwiches for on-demand sales.  One with a drawer and the other had a hinge over cover much like a BBQ (most popular). Both only had a timer and could do about 6 sandwiches at a time. I don't believe they were capable of convection, but some models I see on the web do have ventilation ports. Any info anyone might know on the ovens? I believe the custom mnfr. of the ovens may have been Welbuilt.
                   
                  There's home appliances that can emulate this method and institutional products as well. Panasonic's toaster ovens work on this principle of using IR bulbs above and below to cook and reheat very quickly as others by Cuisinart and Breville. NuWave and clones are sort of doing sort of the same thing with only a top light.
                  <message edited by DawnT on Fri, 04/19/13 3:04 AM>
                   
                  #9
                    mhill95

                    • Total Posts: 189
                    • Joined: 12/27/2003
                    • Location: bradenton, FL
                    Re:Stewart and Other Infrared Cooked Sandwiches B4 Microwaves Thu, 04/18/13 11:08 PM (permalink)
                    Stewart Sandwich started out in a Suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota and grew from there. ´╗┐This was the top franchise for Stewart, The big seller was the "Chuckwagon". The distribution changed when Southland, A.K.A. 7-Eleven became a customer.
                    Deli Express became the new company and they are still located in
                    Eden Prairie, MN.
                    mike
                     
                    <message edited by mhill95 on Fri, 04/19/13 12:28 AM>
                     
                    #10
                      Big Kahuna Kooks

                      • Total Posts: 490
                      • Joined: 6/7/2005
                      • Location: palm beach, FL
                      Re:Stewart and Other Infrared Cooked Sandwiches B4 Microwaves Sun, 08/18/13 2:32 PM (permalink)
                      In scholl we used to have a snack bar and a cafeteria. The snack bar sold landshire sandwiches using IR lamps. Our favorite was the Nike (salami-bolgna-cheese) and was proper etiquette to lick the cheese off the cello paper when opening them up.....
                       
                      #11
                        Bluemoondecor

                        • Total Posts: 1
                        • Joined: 8/19/2013
                        • Location: Maple Grove, MN
                        Re:Stewart and Other Infrared Cooked Sandwiches B4 Microwaves Mon, 08/19/13 9:23 AM (permalink)
                        Hey all,

                        I'm a picker, and I came across a Stewart Sandwiches clock. I've got it listed on Ebay and I thought I'd post the link on here as you seem to know about the sandwiches. It's not allowing me to actually post the link, so just go onto Ebay and search for Stewart Sandwiches Clock. You'll find it that way.
                        I've enjoyed reading the thread on these sandwiches and how people remember them!
                        <message edited by Bluemoondecor on Mon, 08/19/13 9:25 AM>
                         
                        #12
                          kevincad

                          • Total Posts: 399
                          • Joined: 1/23/2008
                          • Location: Snellville, GA
                          Re:Stewart and Other Infrared Cooked Sandwiches B4 Microwaves Mon, 08/19/13 9:51 AM (permalink)
                          DawnT


                          I wonder if there's anyone on this board that had any knowledge of the process? There were many imitators of the original and many regional processing plants operated by francisees. The method had merit for advance preparation that was clearly suprerior.  Microwave products never achieved the same level no matter how much food science has been applied. The IR ovens cooked very fast and did many sandwiches in 3-5 minutes from a cold start. That's literally as fast as a microwave.

                          Were the sandwiches flash frozen or just prepared, Doboy flow wrapped , sealed and refrigerated? 

                          What kind of cellophane was used in the wrapping process? It certainly wasn't airtight from what I remember. This must have been partially critical to the warming process as it simultaneously steamed the bread while cooking, but the residual steam also limited the heat temperature. 

                          Was there something about heating the product in the celophane that today would be cited as producing toxic components that would not been used today and the reason nobody has gone back to it ?

                          I remember two types of IR light ovens besides the hot light/display used to hold already prepared sandwiches for on-demand sales.  One with a drawer and the other had a hinge over cover much like a BBQ (most popular). Both only had a timer and could do about 6 sandwiches at a time. I don't believe they were capable of convection, but some models I see on the web do have ventilation ports. Any info anyone might know on the ovens? I believe the custom mnfr. of the ovens may have been Welbuilt.

                          There's home appliances that can emulate this method and institutional products as well. Panasonic's toaster ovens work on this principle of using IR bulbs above and below to cook and reheat very quickly as others by Cuisinart and Breville. NuWave and clones are sort of doing sort of the same thing with only a top light.

                          Look what I found!!
                           
                          http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Stewart-Sandwich-Oven-GREAT-LOOK-WORKING-/151100524692?pt=BI_Commercial_Ovens_Ranges&hash=item232e4b0894
                           
                          #13
                            Obbop

                            • Total Posts: 1
                            • Joined: 12/9/2010
                            • Location: Springfield, MO
                            Re:Stewart and Other Infrared Cooked Sandwiches B4 Microwaves Tue, 12/24/13 12:56 PM (permalink)
                            Howdy Folks,
                             
                            A nice person left a comment/reply at my blog entry where I told the tale of the wonderful memories I have regarding the incredibly yummy Longhorn sandwich.
                            Here is the link to the entry about the Stewart Longhorn sandwich that I enjoyed enough to remember it years after it apparently departed this planet... never to be sold again.
                             
                            Sniff.
                             
                            Okay, the link has been edited out.
                            Well... maybe a search term will lead to that post about the long-gone super-yummy Longhorn sandwich by Stewart sandwiches:
                             
                            "Beloved Heat-and-Eat Sandwich Lost to the Past"
                             
                            A link to this message thread is on the blog entry to assist others searching for information about the incredibly delicious Longhorn sandwich or Stewart products in general.
                             

                             
                            Have a wonderful week!!!!!!!!
                             
                            <message edited by Obbop on Wed, 12/25/13 9:32 AM>
                             
                            #14
                              MilwFoodlovers

                              • Total Posts: 3095
                              • Joined: 3/31/2001
                              • Location: Milwaukee, WI
                              Re:Stewart and Other Infrared Cooked Sandwiches B4 Microwaves Tue, 12/24/13 2:57 PM (permalink)
                              I remember seeing the Stewart product line but the only product I enjoyed and bought more than once was a foot long spicy Polish. I remember the slightly browned cellophane but mostly I remembered a bun like toast on the outside and a gummy paste inside next to the Polish. Being from Wisconsin, I'd squirt ketchup on it and sometimes the seller offered raw onions to adorn it. It was an odd combo and thanks for reminding of something I hadn't thought about in years. Now does anyone recall broasted pork ribs with a Red Magic sauce? There was one of Milwaukee's original Greek restaurants called Sehmer's, that offered the ribs to go with their broasted chicken. Crunchy on the outside and moist and juicy on the inside, I've often wondered  why I never saw this anywhere else.
                               
                              #15
                                fishtaco

                                • Total Posts: 742
                                • Joined: 5/11/2010
                                • Location: Roachdale, IN
                                Re:Stewart and Other Infrared Cooked Sandwiches B4 Microwaves Mon, 03/3/14 2:03 PM (permalink)
                                Company is still alive and well in Norfolk Va. and  they even have a Facebook page!
                                 
                                #16
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