Crocodille Turkey Club Sandwich

A look under the hood of one of the Czech Republic's unloved but unavoidable pre-packaged sandwiches

This article was originally posted on the Czech Please weblog.

"The secret point of money and power in America is neither the things that money can buy nor power for power's sake... but absolute personal freedom, mobility, privacy. It is the instinct which drove America to the Pacific, all through the nineteenth century, the desire to be able to find a restaurant open in case you want a sandwich, to be a free agent, live by one's own rules."

--Joan Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem (1968)


Who knew the midnight hunger for a sandwich could mean so much? After I read this, the world finally made sense.

Turkey clubs conquer continents. Munchies meet Manifest Destiny.

Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of sandwiches in Prague I'd cross the street for, much less a continent.

There is one company that makes sandwiches that are available on almost every corner, in almost every supermarket, and in almost every gas station. I've even seen them sold in bars.

We don't love them. We just can't get away from them. Yes, I'm talking about Crocodille sandwiches.

It has been well over a year since I'd had my last Crocodille. Then, hunger struck. Options were few. Time was short. I decided to bite the bullet and buy the sandwich.

I've tried a number of varieties, but the only one that has the slightest appeal is, of course, the Turkey Club. I picked one up for 38.50 CZK.

It wasn't all bad. There were some nice touches. They used cherry tomatoes that actually did have some flavor, instead of big, watery unripe slices. Also, there was whole grain mustard in there.

But there are lots of problems. It comes on a very dense nut and poppy-seed bread that is quite hard when cold. The turkey is flavorless. There are a few wilted leaves of lettuce. The bacon is often difficult to chew.

Above all, the Turkey Club, like so many Crocodille sandwiches, is a mayonnaise bomb. They call it a "mustard dressing," but it really is mustard mixed with mayo. I love mayo, but it is too much for me.

All that mayo also leads me to look very carefully at the package whenever I buy one. At the bottom of the label, there is an expiration date. I will never buy one unless the expiration is at least two days away. There's nothing scientific about this, but let's just say I've felt unwell on several occasions after eating Crocodille sandwiches.

The company lists a number of their sandwiches on their website.

Crocodille also makes a Mexican chicken sandwich. I haven't had one in years, mainly because it has a large amount of a butter-like substance on it. They call it a "light cream" spread.

The tuna and egg sandwich does not appeal to me at all. I'm not a big tuna guy. They used to make a bacon and sliced egg sandwich that I liked, but it was discontinued for some reason.

There is also a baked tomato, cheese and cranberry sauce sandwich that I have not tried. The combination doesn't grab me.

They also make a number of baguette sandwiches, which I've never tried, so I won't go into.

Most of these sandwiches come from what the company calls a "state-of-the-art" food-processing plant in Žiželice nad Cidlinou. They say they are distributed to more than 2,500 customers daily, and the EU certifies them for export.

Having just recently sampled gas station sandwiches across Europe, I'd say the Crocodille people still have some improvements to make before they can seriously think about conquering the continent.

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