Satisfying both our stress and our stomachs was exactly Vanderbilt Campus Dining’s goal when they launched a new program to bring food trucks to campus daily for lunch and dinner. Whether you’re at Branscomb Quad or the Ingram Commons, you’re bound to find tasty and unique cuisine only a meal swipe (and maybe a short line) away. In this series, we’ll be reviewing the various visiting trucks—and providing mouth-watering photos, because our phones always eat first. Duh.
Do mundane weekdays filled with political science readings and painful Gen Chem labs ever leave you yearning for a classic PB&J—the kind your parents would pack in your lunchbox, oozing with grape jelly and love?
Spread’Em, a Nashville-based food truck taking on Vanderbilt as a part of the Taste of Nashville program, might have just the remedy for those unfulfilled desires.
Spread’Em serves up custom PB&J’s with a twist. Sisters Chelsea and Candice Dawkins founded the truck in hopes of delivering a childhood classic in a wholesome way, with ingredients sourced entirely from the Southeast United States. They serve up their delicious sandwiches everywhere from film festivals to farmers’ markets, and now, on Vanderbilt’s campus on various days throughout each week. Check @vandycampusdining on Instagram to find truck schedules, posted daily.
If you’ve tried getting your hands on one of these sandwiches, you know that the line can be tediously long (and definitely an impediment to finishing that chemistry lab). If you want to try Spread’Em, you’ll want to get in line early—we’re talking 5 p.m. dinner, right when the truck opens. This is one of the more popular trucks on campus, because it’s one of few to offer menu items besides fried chicken and other Southern cuisine that will land you a quadruple bypass by age 40. The early bird definitely gets the worm—and less heartburn.
But is the wait worth it? I made it to the front of the line, and I’m here to give you the breakdown.
When I got in line for Spread’Em and scanned the menu, I was initially intrigued by the Charcuterie Board sandwich. This meal is two pieces of bread filled with raspberry spread, bacon crumbles, goat cheese and honey. The menu featured an interesting selection of other sandwiches ranging from a classic grape PB&J to the Chunky Monkey, with peanut butter and marshmallow. To my surprise, much of the menu consisted of sweet, dessert-type sandwiches, which unfortunately ruled out a few options (unless you want a Nutella sandwich for dinner—no judgment).
After some debating, I went with the Health Nut, a whole wheat bread filled with almond butter, crunchy granola, grape jelly and banana slices. This is one of my go-to lunches at home, so I had high hopes. The sandwich came promptly, served with chips, a drink and a smile (from both sides).
Feasting in front of Alumni Hall, I’d definitely say the sandwich didn’t disappoint my childhood dreams. The combination of almond butter and crunchy granola was unique and tasty, and the banana slices definitely made the sandwich. However, being the food connoisseur that I am, I can’t deem it 100 percent perfect.
For first-year Maria Manabat, the bread was a major opportunity for improvement.
“The sandwich definitely could’ve used some toasting,” Manabat said. “It was a good lunch, but the bread was a weak point.”
My opinion? It would’ve been delicious on a toasted ciabatta, as opposed to packaged multigrain bread. I’m also not the biggest fan of grape jelly, so I’d recommend asking to substitute jelly flavors if you’re more into raspberry and strawberry like I am.
Despite some shortcomings (which are inevitable when you’re a harsh critic like myself), I’d definitely try Spread’Em again and recommend it to any PB&J stans. Regardless of the line, its impeccable selection, menu creativity and Instagrammability simply make it worth the wait.
Next time you try Spread’Em, look out for me—I’ll probably be embarrassingly diving into a Charcuterie PB&J—or treat your sweet tooth with something like the Strawberry Cheesecake sandwich. Either way, you might just discover your next go-to snack.