Spaghetti Subs – A Mid-Century Recipe Re-Run

Posted on Mar 19 2014 - 3:14am by RetroRuth

We are dipping into the archives this week and pulling out one of the most hilarious recipes that Tom and I have ever made. This post originally ran in May of 2012, and since then this sub with canned spaghetti poured on it has been the butt of many jokes around our house, and probably will continue to be a punch line in the future. How can it not be? It has all the great marks of mid-century cooking: canned ingredients, things added in inappropriate places AND trying to make everything into a sandwich. The only thing this needs to be a perfect storm would be a white sauce slathered on top. And then encase the whole thing in lemon gelatin. So, I hope that the sight of canned spaghetti and corn doesn’t make you too nauseous to enjoy this bit of classic Mid-Century fun!

Here is the insanity that is Spaghetti Subs!


Just in case you were wondering if you were seeing things, never fear. There is canned spaghetti mixed with corn on that sandwich. You aren’t insane.

It’s okay to laugh. Really. Just let it all out. We have seen some crazy crap on this blog, but this has to be one of the weirdest.

When we get something like this, you really, really start to wonder about mid-century test kitchens. I mean, really.



Robert BBQ Bean

3.3 from 3 reviews
Spaghetti Subs
  • 2 cans (about 1 lb each) spaghetti in tomato sauce
  • 1 can (12 or 16 ounces) whole-kernel corn
  • 2 T grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 hero rolls or frankfurter rolls, split and buttered
  • 2 pkgs (6 ounces each) Italian assortment sliced cold cuts
  • 1 pkg (8 ounces) sliced Provolone or pizza cheese
  • 1 sweet red onion, sliced
  • pickle relish
  1. Heat spaghetti, corn and liquid, and Parmesan cheese in a medium saucepan, stirring often until bubbly hot.
  2. Put each roll together with cold cuts, sliced cheese, onion and pickle relish: Top with hot spaghetti mixture.
  3. Wrap in big paper napkin for eating.


See, you thought I was insane one, and just making things up to get you to visit my blog, but here is the proof that not only am I sane, but at one time this was printed in a cookbook. Who’s the crazy one, now?

Wait, it still might be me. After all, I actually made this nonsense.

This little wonder comes from the ever-amazing reader, Veg-o-matic. This recipe was on the same page in a cookbook as Veg’s gelatin submission. And as crazy as that gelatin submission was, these subs were even more nuts. “Oh, and those Spaghetti subs really need to happen,” Veg wrote in the submission email,  “At your house. Not mine.”

Oh, you had better believe they’re happening.


This is a pot full of crazy right here. Canned spaghetti, parmesan cheese, canned corn AND the liquid from the canned corn.

As if canned spaghetti wasn’t goopy enough on it’s own.


This is a hot dog bun filled with provolone, salami, relish and red onion.

Oh, Lordy.


Ha ha ha.

Ha ha ha ha!!

Bwaha ha ha hah ahahAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!

*Snort* Okay, okay. I’m good, I’m good.


This is Tom thinking about how bad his life is.


THIS is how messy that stupid thing was.


This is Tom trying to crank down on a sandwich that should, by all rights, be eaten with a spoon. Or at least a knife and fork.


Even though I don’t normally do this, here is the second bite. Notice the noodles running down the inside of his hands. The corn trying to go up his nose.


The aftermath of the second bite.  Most of the noodles have jumped ship, and really only corn remains.

“So,” I said after I moved the camera to a safe distance, “how is it?”

“Not awful.”

“Well. That’s a ringing endorsement.”

“How about this: They don’t taste as bad as they look.”

The Verdict: Not as bad as they look.

From The Tasting Notes –

They were far too messy to enjoy properly, but in all actuality they weren’t that bad. Tom ate the rest of his and then made another sandwich with meat, cheese and relish on it and dipped it in to a bowl of the spaghetti/corn mess. It was much neater that trying to eat it like a sub.

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (, No Pattern Required (, and I Ate The 80's (

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11 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Susan March 19, 2014 at 11:04 am - Reply

    I change my opinion of Tom. He is not a trooper; he is a martyr.

    Or maybe a really, really committed masochist.

    (I remember this canned spaghetti – my mother thought this was “exotic” food. Of course, she was of the same ilk as mothers who thought pierced ears were only for “cheap” girls.)

  2. Katie S March 19, 2014 at 11:31 am - Reply

    I’m sitting here wondering if I could somehow put it in a calzone and bake it. See if I can get my kids to eat it.

  3. Beth March 19, 2014 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    I love how it says ‘And you can build them as high as you wish’! Now wouldn’t that be a real massive mess….what were they thinking??? Even though I’ve never made a ‘mid century’ dish, I love your blog….I know I can always count on it to give me a good chuckle at the end of a stressful day. Thank you!!

  4. dkzody March 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    And then there is pickle relish, too. Sure would like to meet the person who originated this recipe.

  5. veg-o-matic March 19, 2014 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    Wow, almost two years later and they’re *still a bunful o’ crazy.

    I’m pretty sure the answer for this one is “no”, but does Tom ever ask you to make anything again? Has Deviled Green Beans, say, become a staple at your house?

  6. mslewis March 19, 2014 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    I don’t know how many of your readers actually lived in the 50’s but I was born in 1945 so I remember most of the recipes you use on your blog. My mother never made a casserole because she thought it was stupid and nothing was ever molded in our house. (Jello was mixed up in a bowl, put in the frigidare and dipped out with a spoon.) However, this spaghetti sandwich was legend in our house. I grew up with eight brothers and four sisters and we would make up some interesting sandwiches. This was one of our favorites only we used bologna or leftover ham for the meat and American cheese (only cheese we knew) and put it all on Wonder Bread. There was no corn in it but sometimes we would add canned peas. Awesome!! I gotta give this thing five stars. MEMORIES!!! Good times.

  7. Mary L March 19, 2014 at 11:31 pm - Reply

    This is a knife-and-fork sandwich. i don’t care what the recipe says.

  8. Sylvia O'Stayformore March 20, 2014 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    I love you. My friend just sent me the link to your website. I’ve been collecting crazy cook books forever but never actually thought of making them. You are truly an inspiration.

  9. MW March 25, 2014 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    Oh, my gosh. That looks like straight-up dog barf. This recipe should be included in the “What to Serve People You Truly Despise” cookbook. 🙂

  10. Tom Cotrel March 30, 2014 at 12:13 am - Reply
  11. Chaucey April 13, 2014 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    This didn’t look too weird to me. I live in New Zealand and a popular casual weekend lunch or after school snack would be a spaghetti and cheese toastie.
    I’m pretty sure my home economics teacher (c1990) also taught us how to make spaghetti mini pizzas.

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