“Cannonball” (Big Top Delicatessen)

Today’s sandwich is the “Cannonball,” from the Big Top Delicatessen in Brunswick. It combines sliced liverwurst, shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, sliced green pepper, and creamy horseradish dressing on rye bread.

Location: 70 Maine Street, Brunswick
Price: $6.25
Notes: Liverwurst simply isn’t in my normal sandwich rotation. I never consider it when perusing the menu at a deli. However, about twice a year, my internal chemistry shorts out and demands a liverwurst sandwich. I’m not entirely clear why; I’m not aware of any potential upside to eating a smoked pork liver sandwich. But there it is. In the past, I have satisfied this urge by slipping some Braunschweiger into the supermarket shopping cart, and eating it by myself on Wonder Bread with yellow mustard, as soon as Jillian leaves the house to run some errands. When the urge hit me today, though, it seemed like a great opportunity to try Brunswick’s oddly circus-themed “Big Top Delicatessen.”

The first thing that immediately impressed me was the bread on this sandwich. A thin-sliced, soft, light rye, with a great crust, and a rye flavor that was never too sharp. It was topped with five or six very thin slices of Boar’s Head liverwurst, which makes the pâté element a little easier to approach; no one wants a big slab of mushy liverwurst, and slicing and stacking it this way makes it much more appealing.

The sandwich is piled with the usual deli suspects, including shredded iceberg lettuce, thinly-sliced, beautifully in-season tomatoes, and red onions. The Cannonball also includes a few shard of green pepper, which made me raise an eyebrow, at first; in the end, though, I decided the extra crunch was a wonderful complement to the other soft textures of the sandwich.

I wasn’t thrilled with the “creamy horseradish dressing.” Though I’ve never had horseradish on a liverwurst sandwich, the grated root proved to be an amazing bit of sharp contrast to the otherwise strong, fatty flavors of the liverwurst. The sauce’s base, though, was too tangy for me, with a Miracle Whip vibe that I wasn’t crazy about. This type of vague sweetness doesn’t prove to be an excellent pairing for liverwurst.

Overall, I was very pleased with this sandwich, and the other item’s on Big Top Deli’s menu. The next time the liverwurst urge hits, which I estimate will be sometime in 2012, I’ll probably build my own version, with mustard and a slice of cheese, in addition to the lettuce and tomato, on the deli’s fantastic rye bread. While tasty, with the number of other tasty combinations available, I’ll have plenty of other sandwiches to try before I circle back to the “Cannonball.”

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed “Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road,” as well as the taco-centric blog “Eat More Tacos,” and the junk food-centric “Spork & Barrel.” His contributions include Serious Eats, Down East, L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post and his food truck, “‘Wich, Please,” was named “Hottest Restaurant in Maine” for 2015 by Eater. Finally, he finds it very silly to be trying to write this in the third person.


  1. I haven’t had liverwurst in at least 20 years… I can’t even picture what it tastes like. That said, after reading this, I have a hankering for this sammich – like, I want it right now, at 2am on a Thursday.

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  2. My mom spent many years of her youth in Brunswick, it’s a great little town. My last trip there was to take my mom who was deep in the throws of Alzheimers to have a bit of a trip down memory lane. We headed out to Baileys Island and had some seafood, but I think she and myself as well would have been just as happy trying out the deli you speak of, maybe something different than liverwurst though. Mom is gone now … it’s time for her family to make some new memories of their own.

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