Would You Buy a PB&J Sandwich Off the Street?

Assorted Stuff outside Aron's Midtown NYC
If borekas and egg rolls, why not PB&J Sandwiches!?

If you thought the whole “law student couldn’t get a job so opens a cupcake truck” story was crazy… what about this one?  Got this email in the old ML inbox the other day:

Hi Zach,

I’ve hatched an idea due to extended unemployment, and I thought you’d be the best qualified to tell me if it is feasible or not. During my days of working in Midtown your site was a bible.

It’s pretty simple: set up a small table on a busy corner and sell peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from a cooler for a few bucks. That’s more than the cost of making them, so I’d pull a profit. And it’s cheaper than other lunch options, and who doesn’t like PB&J?

But what about a vendor’s license?

Part of me thinks that there’s probably some vendor’s license required, and Health Department etc. But another part of me thinks that it’s just like a kid setting up a lemonade stand, and that’s perfectly legal. I’ve asked several friends for their thoughts but they have no idea, and I don’t want to be shooed away/ ticketed by the cops and end up with 20 extra sandwiches on my hands.

Do you have any thoughts as to the legality/feasibility of this endeavor? I’d really appreciate it. If it gets off the ground, the first sandwich is yours, complementary of course.

Many thanks,
Dan M.

Sounds like a foolproof scheme to me! Are times really that tough? You’d probably have to sell a lot of sandwiches to make a living. Perhaps you should consider knock of scarves and handbags as well? I suppose if this lady can sell homemade Ecuadorian food out of a grocery cart on 46th Street, I guess you could get by selling PB&J.

Lunchers, what do you think of the “feasibility of this endeavor?”


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    I agree with “Waiting For BajaFresh”. You always have to think about the consumer’s alternative option. That would be a PB&J at a deli. I for one would probably lean on getting the PB&J from a deli than a guy on the street unless it was some special PB&J (it would have to be pretty special). So unless you have some secret recipe, I would say that as a business it doesn’t seem like a great idea. I would try to think of something that is not as easily accessible. For example, the Ecuadorian ‘Cart’ works because it’s an item that is not easily accessible. PB&J is too common.

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    Dan, I hope this is not your only idea. Or your best.

  • They’re $4.75 at sandwich planet. Just get girls or kids to sell them and you’d make a mint.

  • Dude–Be careful if you embark on this, as they will be quick to hall you off to the pokey if they catch you selling food without a license. It works fine in like a tailgating scene like a Jets game or a Dead show, but not on the Streets of NYC, where the competition is beyond fierce. And rest assured, some pissed off halal vendor will definitely rat you out if they see you…You’ll end up spending more on bail and court costs than you will making money.

    Honestly, you’d be better off dressing up as a beggar and standing on the corner of 23rd and 6th. I was going to do that several times, as a social experiment, to see how much I could panhandle, but I am afraid that it will mess with my law license if I’m found out, since technical, it is a crime…

  • i would not buy anything from a man trying to replicate a childrens lemonade stand type of idea.

  • Goats- there was an article in the voice some years ago about a man who made his living panhandling… i beleive he banked $100+ per day.

  • not to hijack the thread or anything, but this PB&J stuff reminds me of seeing people getting cold cereal at a diner. PB&J, much like cold cereal are easy enough for anyone to do without having to go through some middle man on the street (or in a diner) for convenience. Although, I may steal your idea as part of the dream I have of opening up my own diner truck.

  • @ Monique: I know. I think I read that article, which is why I’ve been contemplating the idea for some time! If I get layed off, you will be able to catch me, live, at 23rd and 6th, Mon-Sat. Unfortunately, despite some of my best efforts,including getting the koobface virus (from Facebook) on my work computer, I don’t think I will be lucky enough to get laid off….I want unemployment dammnit! Combine that with my panhandling, and I’ll be RICH! And then I can eat all the Midtown Lunches I want!

  • with all this talk about street vendors, it seems like food trucks pop up all the time. it must be a lot easier to get a food truck license/permit or something.

    and btw dan, you should check out the street vendor project. (google it)

  • you need to offer something that no other pb&j vendor can offer. very hard without increasing cost. I think you’re SOL on this idea dude. your only saving grace would be either great charisma or a hot sales girl.

    and to get that license, the best way is to be honorably discharged (medical discharge works too though i don’t think they call it that) from the military. then you can skip the 10 year line. i would know, i tried to get a license last year.

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    pretty terrible idea

  • This might be the worst idea i’ve ever heard.

  • Maybe bologna, ham, turkey w. cheese should be added to the line-up?

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    Didn’t this guy read the “Street Vendor Poster” entry?


    Didn’t Zach (ans all those q’s)…?!?

    (I know; Zach just eats…)

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    i wouldn’t, no offense. PB&J is one of my fav foods and i make it every morning for breakfast — 100% whole wheat + natural PB + low sugar grape jelly. it’s perfection, but probably runs me all of $1 to make!

  • If you would be willing to distribute these sandwiches through Walgreens, then I’d be up for it.

    Even better if they were deep-fried first.

  • deep fried. now there’s an idea i can stand behind. make sure it’s twice fried like kfc/pommesfrites so it stays crisp

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