Look at that Heavy, sitting there, nomming on his sandvich while his Medic buddy burns alive. Look at that Scout abusing the ever-loving heck out of his over-buffed Crit-a-Cola and critting everyone to death. Look at that other Scout failing miserably at using Bonk! Atomic Punch to sneak behind the enemy team and be useful. Why is it that only Scout and Heavy get to eat mid-battle?
Well, first off, eating in the middle of a fight is rather impractical. Both Heavies and Scouts need to find cover to consume their consumables, but anyone who wishes to pause to do something else will have to find cover anyway. You’re not going to munch on a couple of steaks while being bombarded with rockets. And you’re certainly not going to sit around drinking a can of fizzy drink while a Demoman and his Medic charge towards you, brandishing a Kritzkrieg ready to pop. That’s just stupid.
But most people are smart enough to take cover. So what other reasons are there not to give everyone something edible?
The only real reason that I can think of, apart from thinking of unique ideas for each class, is the restriction of weapon slots. Weapon models aren’t a problem, we already have a lot of stuff available, particularly those bread models. For example, what slot would a Spy give up to gain some sort of consumable item? He certainly wouldn’t give up his knife, and giving up a revolver would be stupid. So that leaves the Invis Watch and the Sapper. While I really like the idea of a recharging glass of wine that makes you invisible for X amount of time, is this something people will actually use?
It gets worse with other classes. Medics will be unwilling to sacrifice their Crossbows for some sort of food item. Snipers would have to replace their secondaries since a Sniper without a long-ranged weapon isn’t a Sniper. Demoman has the tough choice of losing either a Grenade Launcher or a Sticky Bomb Launcher.
Let’s assume though that we’re going to make a food or drink item for each class. What would these items do? You can’t have them all heal you like the Sandvich does. A. that’d be pretty broken on some classes and B. everyone having a sandvich would annoy Medics. You have to make these items unique. Sharing weapons often goes wrong, look at the Reserve Shooter, and how amazingly good it is on Pyro, but very mediocre on Soldier. So these edible items would have to offer something apart from or alongside self healing. Probably some sort of buff or something.
But what? Mini-crits on a consumable item do work, but only if you don’t put stupid downsides on it or over-buff it. Crit-a-Cola used to be useless because the 125 class would both gain and take mini-crits, but it’s been gradually buffed and over-buffed until it’s become the broken mess it is now. The beef steak is equally stupid, because Heavies who use it are stripped to melee. Of course, you don’t want Heavies having perma-mini-crits, but still, Heavies are slow and even the provided speed boost doesn’t help them get into melee range to punch people to death.
What you’d need to do is make food and drink items give special buffs without being stupid about it. Now, the community (or part of it at least, I wouldn’t trust SCUD to open a packet of crisps) could probably design something balance-able. Part of me fears that Valve would do to any new consumable item that they would to the ones we already have – they’d either be better than stock, too niche-y to be used properly or slowly buffed over time to be broken and better than stock.
Oh well, no pretzels for Medic.