As any good Millennial knows, a sealed, crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwich goes by one name and one name alone: It is an Uncrustable.
That's certainly what Smucker's, the maker of the Uncrustable, would like you to think. They even tried to patent their product—which is, to reiterate, a sealed, crustless PB&J—but in 2005, a federal appeals court ruled that Smucker's patent for sealed, crustless sandwiches (patent number 6,004,596) was not novel or non-obvious enough to merit the award of a patent. Still, if you're under 40 and see a circular, white bread sandwich with crimped edges, especially if it contains peanut butter and jelly, your mind goes to one thing and one thing alone.
Which leads us to this question: Has Adam Fleischman, the founder and former CEO of Umami Burger, ever heard of Uncrustables? We ask because Fleischman, the serial entrepreneur behind several restaurant chains, has a new and brilliant idea: a sealed, crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
In a word, Fleischman says he wants to "gourmet-ify" the Uncrustable while simultaneously trying to convince us that Uncrustables totally aren't already a thing, according to a story about his "invention" that appeared in the Los Angeles Times this morning. "It's kind of like a burrito, everything is locked in there," explains Fleischman.
When the LA Times flat out asked Fleischman whether his new creation evokes the store-bought, frozen, Smucker's product of your youth, he replied, "Those are the frozen burgers version. Ours are organic and varied to the max. And fresh and artisanal, of course. And bigger."
Early next month, Fleischman will be serving the sandwiches at a stall at Los Angeles's Grand Central Market, the 100-year-old food court. "We're trying to create disruptive products," Fleischman said about his new creation. In fact, he told the LA Times that he patented the crimping machine that seals the sandwiches. When reached for comment via phone, Fleischman told MUNCHIES, "It's going to be hard to enforce any kind of patent except for that very specific area."
What's different about his PBJs, Fleischman claims, is that they will appeal to Millennials because the jelly will be made with rosé and stone fruit, and the nut butters will transcend the pedestrian peanut; instead, his spreads will be made of almonds, cashews, and pistachios. Mango chutney on your sealed, crustless sandwich? Check. Can we find a way to integrate some Angostura bitters? Why the hell not!
MUNCHIES has reached out to Smucker's for comment, but has not yet received a response. A spokesperson for Umami Burger told MUNCHIES, "Umami has absolutely nothing to do with the crustless sandwich you are referencing nor do we know anything about it. Any association between Umami and this product is absolutely false."
Will Fleischman be able to pull off the elevation of a Smucker's favorite? Perhaps. He did, after all, stake his claim in the overcrowded burger market. After opening his first Umami Burger in 2009, they now have 24 locations, including one in Japan. Then again, he's also the man behind ChocoChicken, a restaurant serving chocolate-flavored chicken—yes—which opened in 2014 and is now shuttered, although Fleischman says he's opening that one again next year.
Fleischman insists that his product and Uncrustables have little in common: "We're appealing to a healthy, gourmet, vegan crowd primarily," he told us. But has Fleischman ever actually eaten an Uncrustable? Nope. He told MUNCHIES that he's "never had one, but my partners did and they said it was decent for what it is."
Correction: A previous version of this article referred to Adam Fleischman as the founder and CEO of Umami Burger. Fleischman stepped down from his position of CEO of Umami Burger in 2013, but remains a chairman on the company's board. We have updated the story to clarify, and regret the error.