We never really encourage it, but strange requests are one of the nice things about working in street food. It means, I think, that people feel able to trust you as much as they would a restaurant to improvise with food.
Mostly this means solving problems with allergies or intolerances. Not so much a strange request as a matter of lunch, but since we started taking gluten free bread with us to regular events we have been getting through it. It still tends to fall to bits on us, but generally we will sell enough toasties to cover the cost of the loaf.
Then there are the slightly stranger requests for ingredients that we don’t have anywhere on the board. Baked beans feature a lot here. I grant that it is a fairly standard toastie, and that when the Breakfast Toastie is in town we can get beans in anything, but generally speaking, beans (fresh tomato, raw onion and burgers) are not something we trend to carry around on the off-chance. On the other hand we usually have tastier alternatives with us: onion marmalade, slow roast tomatoes or youknow, the rest of the toastie menu, so we will try and offer a substitute.
Growing in popularity are the requests that don’t involve food. Like the guy at a wedding who spent the entire night trying to get in the van with us. At the end of the night, once we had turned everything off, we relented and let him gleefully pose inside with a pair of tongs while his buddies took pictures.
A while ago we also randomly had a run of school kids, contacting us to ask for details on pricing and safety. Apparently there was some kind of project, and the great primary-coloured coursework solver that rhymes with Dougal led them to us. So we cobbled something together and sent it out. Which caused more students to contact us. It would appear we are the only ones who responded. Eventually we just wrote a page for school resources, and now folks can help themselves.
We got asked for a plastic bag once. I know, we lead exciting lives, but the woman was so distraught that we felt it necessary to ask why she was carrying neither shopping nor an armful of toasties, but still needed a bag. It was also a slow day at a festival, and we didn’t have a bag anyway. She was fairly hesitant, and then blurted out that she had dropped her brand new iPhone in a portaloo. We had gloves, and gave her a pair of those instead, but we were three days into the festival, and I think we all knew that that poor phone was gone forever.
All time favourite amongst our strange requests is I’m Sorry On Toast. Again, it was one of those quiet festivals where we really had nothing better to do. A guy came up and asked what he could buy as an apology to his mate. We suggested toasties, what with them being grand in any situation, but he wasn’t convinced: They didn’t say sorry hard enough. So we got out the chocolate spread, lightly toasted five pieces of bread and in Barny’s very best chocolate-on-bread handwriting wrote S-O-R-R-Y on a slice each. He was delighted, and proudly marched away to present his aggrieved buddy with bread-based atonement. He came back a few minutes later and requested a refund, covered in chocolate.
We never did find out what he did to warrant such an extravagant mid-festival gesture, but it just goes to show that a.) chocolate can’t fix everything and b.) we will try anything if we’re bored enough.
Please let us know if you have any better strange requests. We’d be intrigued.