Monday, August 13, 2007

Question & Answer #2

Q: Dear Sir or Madame,

What exactly does a sandwich need to consist of in order to be considered a sandwich? Is an open-faced sandwich truly a sandwich?

Pained by Paninis

A: You are a brave man Pained. The sandwich is a true enigma, so much so that the average person wouldn't dare ask this question. Searching for clarity only raises more questions, but that is why I'm here. Let's dive in.

The second part of your question will help us figure out what we need to focus on. The open-faced variety was regarded by your grandfather to be a sandwich. It originated in the late 1940s during a period of heavy “sammich” experimentation. For example, an open-faced roast beef sandwich is an entree, is yummy, and has a slice of bread, which most people relate to sandwiches. But most dictionaries claim a sandwich must consist of two or more pieces of bread. Putting food between two pieces of bread certainly does make a sandwich. But the open-faced sandwich, which is considered a sandwich by many, opens up a big can of worms.

I would agree this is a sandwich. The roast beef is sandwiched between a slice of bread and either gravy or mashed potatoes. I feel the act of sandwiching something between two elements is integral. Scandanvians believe a piece of bread with one topping comprises a sandwich. They're wrong. Nothing is sandwiched. By their definition, a chip with salsa on it could be a sandwich. It makes no logical sense. It's yet another reason why me and Scandanavians don't get along.

But this raises the question of whether merely sandwiching something makes the whole a sandwich. If I wear two layers of shirts, are we a sandwich? Putting three elements together indeed sandwiches the middle item, but must a sandwich be edible? Sandwich Theorists have been debating this for decades with little to show for it. And unfortunately I don't have an answer either.

I haven't eaten a "sandwich" in years because of the paradox of the sandwich being sandwiched by my teeth. While I eat the sandwich, have I become a part of it? Brains have exploded trying to answer this. Cracking the sandwich code will bring forth a new age of enlightenment and will not likely happen in our lifetime. Because within it lies the secret of life, and I don't think our mortal minds can handle its power.

I know I haven't answered your question Pained, but I hope I've shed some light on this mystical entity we take for granted.

Keep writing in, folks. Your complex questions deserve my convoluted answers. You can email us at


MDD said...

A complex issue, to be sure. And you did not even touch on Oreos being a sandwich cookie. As distinct from a cookie sandwich. And if one were to make a cookie sandwich from Oreos: a sandwich cookie sandwich. With the use of Double Stufts and mathematical regression, a cookie sandwich cookie sandwich cookie sandwich has been hypothesized, but has yet to be created in the lab due to high instability.

Zack said...

Sand. Witch.
Beach-grain. Warlock.
Think about it. Hard.

Bryan said...

It's truly maddening, mdd, and you raise yet another conceptual quandary. Few know that modern sandwisticians use Oreos as the basic units of measurement. For example:

(Oreo x N = ∆ insanity), where N is the number of minutes spent thinking about sandwiches.

This is the reason I spend so much time eating these generally disgusting sandwich cookies, I just don't know any better at this point.

And zack, beach-grain warlocks bring up a mysticism in the same family as sandwiches. But the answer to that is for another day.

Pained by Paninis said...

Thank you for your prompt reply to my query. This does raise many important issues that had hitherto escaped my attention. However, when push comes to shove, I still tend to hang onto the original intent of the founding sandwich, the Earl of Sandwich, that a sandwich is not only a delicious light meal but one that serves some utility in its very design for clean handling.