Number 10 can (plus a surprise Hibachi)

victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Oct 2 22:27:23 UTC 2011

There seems to be a combination here of disdain toward institutional food,
in general, and mockery of large cans, in general. But I don't think, in any
of these cases, the usage suggests specifically that #10 can implies lower
quality of content. Where it happens, it's almost coincidental.

For my part, I routinely get San Marzano tomatoes in #10 can from Costco
whose quality is comparable to those in smaller cans in Whole Foods and the
price is actually cheaper than one of those small cans. Similarly, there is
no appreciable quality difference between *branded* #10 cans and the #2
versions. It's the "white label" cans that you need to worry about, in which
case, the mockery will be of generic products, not specifically of the
content of #10 can. It seems there are several layers of sarcasm working


On Sun, Oct 2, 2011 at 4:01 PM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at>wrote:

> ...
> My citations don't provide evidence that "#10 can" means anything other
> than a can that is a size number 10, so today I tried to find citations
> illustrating that "#10 can" is used to refer to poorer quality
> institutionally prepared food.
> Google Books did not provide any clear citations, but here are some in no
> particular order that indicate that the word refers to cans of food in
> general. They are followed by a couple of other Internet citations.
> ...

The American Dialect Society -

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