‘Cannibal Sandwiches’ Are One Weird (and Potentially Dangerous) Christmas Tradition
I know this may be hard to believe, but there are some Christmas traditions that totally miss the mark. There are grown men who dress in devil costumes and roam the streets of Austria with chains and a basket to (pretend) abduct super bad kids. And in Catalan, there's the tradition of the 'defecating log' where people make a character out of a log, feed it fruit, nuts, and sweets, and then on Christmas Eve they beat the log and sing a song that roughly translates to, 'If you don't poop, well, I'll beat you with a stick.' They beat the log until it 'excretes' all of its treats.
Fruitcake is kind of weird. And drinking eggnog...well, you either love it or you hate it. I fall into the latter category when it comes to eggnog, but none of our Christmas traditions beat the weird one that Wisconsinites are into and it involves eating a 'cannibal sandwich.' I kid you not.
Okay listen, I try to keep an open mind when it comes to food and traditions and all of that, but my mind shut down completely when I heard about cannibal sandwiches and it probably has something to do with the memory I have of summer camp 1988 when one of the male camp counselors dared us to eat a handful of raw hamburger. Not one to ever pass up a dare, I shoved my handful of raw meat straight into my mouth, swallowed, and plastered on a fake smile all while the jaws of my fellow campers fell. Truth is, it was the most disgusting thing that I've ever, ever, ever eaten.
So back to this cannibal sandwich business. Did you know that in Wisconsin it's a Christmas tradition to eat the sandwich which is made of raw ground beef on bread with sliced onions, salt, and pepper? That's right. Raw ground beef sandwiches. But you (and they) really shouldn't.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services recently sent out a Tweet reminding people that, "eating raw meat is NEVER recommended because of the bacteria it can contain." In a Facebook post, the agency wrote, "Time for our annual reminder that there's one #holiday tradition you need to pass on: raw meat sandwiches, sometimes called Tiger Meat or Cannibal Sandwiches."
I did a tiny bit of research (read: I didn't spend hours looking into it) on how and why the tradition of 'cannibal sandwiches' was born but all I kept finding were articles of people telling stories about how they'd grown up with the very strange Christmas tradition or articles stating that nobody knew where it came from. In other words, it appears that many people have been observing the tradition for decades without even knowing why they're putting themselves through the misery (and misery appears to be the common thread in each personal story I read on the tradition).
And there you have it. Raw meat sandwiches are a Christmas tradition in Wisconsin. You're welcome for that little nugget of knowledge you'll drop at Christmas dinner if even one of your kids so much as wrinkles their nose at what you prepared.