Anchovies in a Tube

When it comes to anchovy paste, Giovanni’s is our main squeeze.

In French slang, a tube d'ete, or "summer tube", is the hit song of the season—the one you hear on all the boom boxes and in all the beachfront discos throughout July and August. Somewhat earlier in the year, in February, hit tubes of another kind are honored, in the U.S., by the Tube Council of North America.

The tube—in the sense of a rounded, deflatable container out of which things are squeezed—is a relatively new invention, designed in 1841 by New York artist John Goffe Rand to keep his paints moist. Today, of course, everything from toothpaste to tomato paste comes in tubes, and the Tube Council names a Tube of the Year annually in each of three categories—metal, plastic, and laminate.

The 1994 Metal Tube laureate, Giovanni's Anchovy Paste, is produced by small, family-owned Giovanni's Appetizing Food Products, Inc., of Richmond, Michigan. Judges hailed the package for its "high visual impact with a good use of color and type holding the brand function identification effectively".

We hail what's inside—a creamy, delicious, comparatively low-key puree of anchovies, vegetable oil, salt, sugar, olive oil, and assorted spices (plus sodium benzoate). The anchovy-shy might try adding a bit to salad dressing, pasta, pizza, or soup—just enough to lend an indefinable salty tang. Hard-core aficionados, on the other hand, spread it generously on toasted bagels, sourdough toast, or crackers. Among such fanatics, a two-ounce tube of Giovanni's lasts about a day.

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