Wisconsin’s ‘Cannibal Sandwich’ Is a Weird Holiday Tradition
Having grown up over in America's Dairyland, I can tell you firsthand that this is one holiday tradition that's definitely an acquired taste.
Have you ever heard of something called a 'cannibal sandwich'? It's an old-school Wisconsin holiday treat that's apparently making a comeback these days where it originated, in the southeast part of the state near Milwaukee.
Now, I grew up in the central part of Wisconsin, near Wausau, and while I've heard of this concoction, my grandparents called it wildcat, not a cannibal sandwich. And that name is a little misleading-- not to mention off-putting, right?
But whether you call it wildcat or a cannibal sandwich, this Wisconsin Public Radio story explains that it's basically sirloin beef or steak that you grind up and spread on a cracker or piece of rye bread and eat-- raw-- usually with some salt and pepper and a slice of raw onion on top of it.
It apparently was created by the northern Europeans who settled in Wisconsin and created it as a snack because its ingredients were usually readily available, especially at a time when other foods may have been scarce, WPR says. It fell out of favor because, gee, it's not really all that safe to eat raw beef, but apparently it's been making a comeback recently.
Wisconsin pro-tip: The WPR story says that if you want to try it, you'll greatly lower your risk of getting e-coli (which is always a fun part of the holidays, right?!?) if you use ground steak like sirloin, and not just ground beef. Word.
Like I said, I remember my grandparents making wildcat on New Year's Eve when I was a kid. And, if memory serves me correctly, it tasted kind of bland and was similar to other meat-based sandwich spreads, like braunschweiger. I'm pretty sure I didn't like it much when I was a kid, and given all the many holiday food options available these days, I'm going to pass on making any wildcat-- or cannibal sandwiches-- during the holidays here in Minnesota too.
But if you're curious, you can get more info about cannibal sandwiches HERE, or check out the video below. Cheers!