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The Earl of Hotdog

[ 389 ] May 18, 2017 |
Pictured: A sandwich

Pictured: A sandwich

Sandwich Recognition Disorder or SRD is a serious personality disorder recognized by the American Medical Association. Its symptoms include:

  • Inability to decipher between sandwiches and other foodstuffs
  • The desire to describe all foodstuffs as sandwiches
  • A tendency to describe food items like Spaghetti and Marinara as “deconstructed sandwiches.”
  • A libertine, anything-goes attitude toward sandwiches and other foodstuffs

To be clear, a sandwich is is a flat or flat-ish conveyance for meats, veggies, fruits, condiments, and cheeses. These items must be…sandwiched between two bready substances.

Things that are not sandwiches:

  • Pizza
  • Hot dogs
  • Pho
  • Spaghetti
  • Erotic doodles of America’s sweetheart, Jennifer Anniston, lovingly caressing a carousel horse
  • Marble obelisks
  • The delicious skin-plumping tears of white people

If you recognize the symptoms of SRD in you or someone you love, please get professional help immediately.


Comments (389)

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  1. rea says:

    Hot dogs–dubious sausages served on a bun–are at least quasi-Sandwiches

  2. Erik Loomis says:

    You want to know something that is total bullshit? Open-faced sandwiches. It’s not a sandwich if it’s not enclosed!

  3. MPAVictoria says:

    Oh Spencer, Spencer, Spencer… It is time you embraced radical freedom and accepted that the word “Sandwich” has a broad definition.
    – Hot dog? Sandwich
    -Taco? Sandwich
    -Ravioli? Sandwich
    -Pizza? Open faced sandwich
    – Lasagna? You better believe its a sandwich!

    Basically anything with a carb shell and some sort of topping or filling is a sandwich. And there is nothing you can do about it!

  4. Dennis Orphen says:

    Lunchmeataphobia: The fear of being eaten by a sandwich.

    Think. It ain’t illegal yet.

  5. Malaclypse says:

    As I correctly noted in the original link, if Ibn Rushd taught us nothing else, it is that the outward form of, say, pizza is a mere accident that does not detract from the essence of its sandwichness. Both you and my beloved are in the wrong here.

  6. Free your mind! Everything is a sandwich.

  7. Hamburgers are not sandwiches. Patty melts are. Calzones are not. Neither are wraps (too bad for you, Bobby Valentine). For some reason sausage and peppers on a torpedo roll is a sandwich, but a bratwurst on the exact same roll is not.

    Also not sandwich: Cornish pasty.

  8. rea says:

    There are some islands (Kenyan territory) called Sandwiches

    • kped says:

      I hope they are the first to sink during the great global warming floods. This is madness!

      Next you’ll say people are sandwiches (i guess in certain types of 3 or more people sex acts they can be…)

      • Lee Rudolph says:

        Indeed, the French purportedly have (or had) the phrase en sandwich à la Colette because of her (purported) enthusiasm for one such (MFM) sex act.

        On the other hand, Edna St. Vincent Millay’s First Fig, viz.,

        My candle burns at both ends;
        It will not last the night;
        But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
        It gives a lovely light!

        although it (purportedly) refers to a different (MFM) sex-act (one instance of which James Atlas has recounted) much favored by Ms. Millay, I have never heard nor read that that act (or its obvious differently gendered variants) called a sandwich.

    • Bloix says:

      The Sandwich Islands are Hawaii.

  9. DrS says:

    Pizza, especially as practiced in NY where a slice is typically folded, is absolutely a sandwich.

    You’d know this if you weren’t such a coastal elitist.

    • Peterr says:

      Pizza, if you can fold it, it isn’t truly a pizza. Just ask anyone from Chicago.

      • DrS says:

        Don’t get me started on those perverts and their pizza influenced casserole.

        • Peterr says:

          Don’t get Chicagoans started on those cardboard-worshiping idiots on the east coast.

          • DrS says:

            At least it’s not that St. Louis trash.

            If you put two ‘hunks’* of Chicago style pizza face to face, now that my friends is a sandwich.

            * I think that’s what they’re called. They ain’t slices.

            • John Revolta says:

              It’s a piece. A piece a pizza. Whaddelse?

              • janitor_of_lunacy says:

                For me, I don’t care if it is deep dish, thin crust, thick crust or whatever. I just want my damn pizza to have a crust that is tasty with a good texture and not floppy and soggy. Fortunately for my waistline, this is something which is impossible to find in my county, so I am safe from the temptation of this non-sandwich comestible.

          • Q.E.Dumbass says:

            I’m personally the partisan of the ultra-flaccid flapjack East Coast variant, neither the fucking cardboard variant nor the glorified pseudo-Southern(?) cracker. And I’m personally fine with either the flaccid flapjack or the perfect-for-drowning-a-baby-in Chicagonese cassarole.

          • Manny Kant says:

            Look, no reasonable person has a problem if you enjoy your pizza-like casserole and think it is better than actual pizza. But the false equivalency here, where “New York” and “Chicago” just have irreconcilable ideas about what pizza is that cannot be resolved is ridiculous. “New York” pizza is actually “pizza everywhere except Chicago”.

        • John Revolta says:

          I WILL FIGHT YOU

      • nixnutz says:

        I’ve only had Pizzeria Uno, are they like Domino’s-level bad compared to the real thing?

        • John Revolta says:

          Not quite Domino’s. Let’s say Pizza Hut level.

          I mean, I grew up eating the stuff in Chicago but naturally when they went national things went downhill fast. If you get one at the original location they might still be good (I moved away years ago). I believe the oven itself was an ingredient- you could tell the difference between an Uno’s and a Due’s pie although they were the same management and just a block apart.

          • nixnutz says:

            I will say I liked Uno’s a lot when I first tried it and eventually got sick of it. Look forward to trying a better version someday.

            • John Revolta says:

              Well, there’s Lou Malnati’s, who’s the son of the guy who allegedly invented the Uno’s-style pie. Gino’s East is also good. Lately though whenever I’m back in Chi. I usually go to the Home Run Inn which has pizza that’s not as thick as these others but thicker than the NY style stuff. In other words, more like your standard Chicago pizza only top of the line.

      • Pseudonym says:

        I tried a slice of Chicago-style pizza once, and I’m still vainly attempting to lose those extra pounds.

    • Justin Runia says:

      Pizza, first and foremost, is a bread. You could make a sandwich from pizza, but the fact that pizza itself requires cooking disqualifies it from being a sandwich.

    • Mona Williams says:

      Joan Rivers said folded pizza has only half the calories. The body doesn’t know.

  10. Warren Terra says:

    This has to do with an extended series of debates on Twitter, in which VS is a sandwich purist, MPAVictoria is a sandwich vandal anarchist (insisting that anything involving carbs and a topping is a sandwich), and other people some of whom you might recognize from the comments here have adopted various positions inbetween.

    My favorite contribution (of my own) so far was, when the Great Sandwich Wars were mentioned (originally having to do with a rather depressing inter-blog contretemps 15 years ago), to suggest that a future history will report that the Sandwich Wars started when an assertion that Poutine is a Sandwich caused Quebec to unleash the Canadian Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve.

    (yes, there really is a Canadian Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve, and it is in Quebec).

  11. Nobdy says:

    What about the feeling of melancholy you get on a truly beautiful day watching an azure sea and the little white boats bobbing in it like the reflections of puffy white clouds in the sky above, and you realize that all this is temporary, that you will die, that everyone you love and everyone they love will die, that the seas will become polluted and brown, thick with sludge and empty of fish, and then eventually boil off when the sun expands and everything you know will be unrecognizable. The things we hold dear are just grains of sand slipping through our hands onto an endless beach and then the beach will be first flooded and then scorched with flame and it will not matter that we ever lived. Then you put that out of your mind and go back to enjoying the gorgeous day.

    Is that a sandwich?

    The beautiful day is the bread. The melancholy is the meat. The existential dread is the condiment.

    I feel like it is at least sandwich adjacent.

    • efgoldman says:

      The existential dread is the condiment.

      Sandwiches can be and are a lot of things, but existential isn’t one of them.

    • Dennis Orphen says:

      There was one moment I remember when I felt like that. It was in August of 1995 and I was looking at the full moon over the raised garden beds, Italian plum and Asian pear trees in my backyard on Lake Whatcom. The house was empty, my car was packed up, and I was moving back to Seattle with no idea whatsoever what I was going to do, and no place stay except a friend’s (who was away for months captaining a boat to Hawaii) custom van, parked in Kirkland. I was also pushing 30, and this was back before 50 was the new 30. A month later I got a phone call from an old college friend, who was living in Portland, telling me he had just gotten divorced, was renting a big house in NE, had a lot of empty bedrooms, and I should move in with him. 24 hours later, I was there, stayed in Portland 20 years, and saw it become Seattle times xthousand (which I knew was going to happen from the get-go).

      I still get those feelings on the very rare occasion, but I don’t sweat them anymore.

      • Nobdy says:

        That you for describing that sandwich.

        • Dennis Orphen says:

          Really? No ‘cool story bro’? Thanks for making me remember that moonlight night two or three relative lifetimes ago. Not that I have ever forgotten, but still…..

          And as far as this Russpublican Trumped Down BS goes:

          First I was afraid

          I was petrified……..

      • Pseudonym says:

        Ugh. Cool story bro and all, but when it comes to sandwich condiments, sweat trails even mayonnaise (albeit only slightly).

    • Mona Williams says:

      That did bring tears to my eyes.

  12. dmsilev says:

    Does a pizza become a sandwich if you fold the slice before eating it?

  13. tsam says:

    Well, is a calzone a sandwich then?

  14. Peterr says:

    A sandwich has to at least entertain the possibility that you can pick it up and eat it. Sure, things may fall out (especially with certain ingredients or quantities), but the whole point of a sandwich is that you pick it up and eat it.

    Sorry, Mal, but Chicken Pot Pie is not a sandwich. It may be delicious. It may be fantastic. It may be absolutely wonderful. But that doesn’t make it a sandwich.

    I am not a doctor, but I would suggest that anyone who believes they may have SRD go down to a deli every day for a month and watch the creators of sandwiches at work. Each day, spend 30 minutes just watching. Take note of the various breads – white, wheat, rye, sourdough, etc. Take note of the various spreads – mayo, of course, or hundreds of variations on mustard. Consider the various meats available. Ponder the possible cheeses. Meditate on the pros and cons of different meat/cheese combinations. Think about the different veggies available – tomatoes, pickles, sauerkraut, lettuce, peppers, . . . Then, after 30 minutes of watching the masters at work behind the counter and the satisfied people who receive their hand-made masterpieces over the counter, advance to the counter yourself and order a sandwich of your own — a different one each day.

    It could be a Jewish deli in NY. It could be a deli at a suburban grocery store. It could be a hole-in-the-wall college town sandwich shop. It could be an artisanal vegan sandwich emporium powered by solar energy in northern California. It could be a carnivore’s delight of a BBQ joint in Kansas City. It could be a Cuban deli in south Florida. Take your pick — just find one in your neighborhood and spend a month immersing yourself in what true Sandwichhood is all about.

    Save the pot pie for dinner.

  15. I’m going to need to see at least four or five of item 5 on the bullet point list just so I can make my own determination.

  16. McAllen says:

    – A sandwich is anything enclosed by two pieces of bread.
    – Since the Earth is a sphere, for any object on Earth you can draw a line between two pieces of bread that intersects it.


    – Everything on Earth is a sandwich

  17. Stag Party Palin says:

    I dated a sand witch once. She sang me an old blues tune, “I want a hot dog for my roll.”

  18. tsam says:


  19. DrS says:

    So, we’re all just waiting around for the 6 PM ET news dump, correct?

    I feel like a rat who has learned to push the cocaine lever.

  20. Without getting into the thorny issue of what is or is not a sandwich, allow me to present this thought experiment/personality test/zen koan to which some friends of mine like to subject unsuspecting strangers. Say that you prepare a sandwich (for the purposes of this argument, two slices of bread with a filling between them). Then you slice that sandwich in half, either lengthwise or diagonally, as you prefer. Do you now have one sandwich, or two?

  21. Barry Freed says:

    This is an excellent post. The best post. And I fully endorse it.

  22. jeffreyw says:

    A hotdog is, absolutely, a sandwich. A hotdog with ketchup is an Abominable Sandwich, aka a Yetchy.

  23. wjts says:

    The problem here – which no one is discussing – is that the definition of “sandwich” most people use in this debate is either paraphyletic (for the “hamburgers are not sandwiches” crowd) or polyphyletic (for the “everything is a sandwich” crowd). So arguing about what “really” constitutes the taxon is almost certainly pointless from the get-go.

    • Wow, I thought I was going to be the only person to make a reference to cladistics in this thread. You beat me to it.

      • wjts says:

        It was the seemingly autapomorphic nature of the hamburger that got me thinking about it.

        • For a while I thought that the answer to the hamburger-hotdog exclusion was that both of them primarily feature a single piece of hot, cooked meat, but then I realized that also is true of fish sandwiches and chicken sandwiches.

          • wjts says:

            The hot dog can, I think, be excluded on the basis of the highly-derived bread. My initial thoughts on the burger was that cooking the meat separately and specifically immediately before placing it in the bread would exclude it, but that trait is arguably synapomorphic with both fried fish and chicken sandwiches (unless it’s homoplastic). Perhaps the ground nature of the filling is autapomorphic for burgers?

            • nixnutz says:

              When I used to eat hot dogs I never bought buns, my preferred preparation was to butter and grill one side of a piece of white bread and wrap that around the hot dog, approximating the New England-style hot dog bun. Would that then be a sandwich? I consider a hot dog a sandwich in the traditional American version but when you get into German giant-wurst-tiny-roll situations it gets tenuous fast.

            • A burger’s primary ingredient is one or more patties of minced or ground protein, optionally mixed with other ingredients, homogeneous in texture. That gets you normal hamburgers, turkey burgers, buffalo burgers, and veggie burgers. You also probably have to figure out some way to include the bun in that analysis or else the Sausage McMuffin is a hamburger.

      • kenjob says:

        Embracing the paraphyly feels dirty anti-Hennigian.

    • vacuumslayer says:

      Pointless yet hilarious and fun!

    • Lee Rudolph says:

      So arguing about what “really” constitutes the taxon is almost certainly pointless from the get-go.

      The various commentators have certainly not avoided a taxon each other.

    • Pseudonym says:

      It’s peanut butter and jelly, not peanut butter and almond butter carob!

    • paul1970 says:

      whereas a prophylactic sandwich is a piece of meat encased by rubber.

  24. Justin Runia says:

    On the one hand, it is distressing to see so much sandwich ignorance on display, doubly so that my insecurity prevents me from walking away from all these arguments without setting the record straight. On the other hand, this may be my true purpose in life, setting the record straight as a sandwich evangelist.

    So let’s get it out there; a sandwich is created when you use a food to grip another food in order to eat it without utensils. At some point, the starchy foods like bread and tortillas that accompanied our meals as eating implements subsumed the meals, becoming a food in of themselves.
    Therefore, the gripping food in a sandwich must be a finished foodstuff–pies, topped breads (including pizza), dumplings and stuffed pastas fail this test because they must be cooked in order to consumed. Geometry isn’t important, consistency of the gripping food isn’t important, outside of the fact that it must be edible by itself–lettuce wraps and Double Downs are sandwiches, despite not having any starch. That said, there are many bad sandwiches, sandwiches that fail their basic purpose of conveying food to your mouth, like the aforementioned Double Down, the Mission-style burritos of Chipotle, or meatball subs that have either too much sauce, or meatballs that are too big.

    • DetroitRex says:

      a sandwich is created when you use a food to grip another food in order to eat it without utensils

      I was all set to wholeheartedly endorse this definition as, well, definitive, but then I had a terrible thought:

      when I use my corn chip to facilitate salsa intake, have I made a sandwich?

    • djw says:

      a sandwich is created when you use a food to grip another food in order to eat it without utensils.

      This seems just as made as the postmodernists and the purists above. That would make every damn thing on my veggie combo at the Ethiopian place a sandwich? or is each and every bite–each scoop of lentils with a small piece of torn off injera–a sandwich unto itself?

    • N__B says:

      a sandwich is created when you use a food to grip another food in order to eat it without utensils.

      Now I want to make a rock-candy flask for my rum.

    • PohranicniStraze says:

      So let’s get it out there; a sandwich is created when you use a food to grip another food in order to eat it without utensils.

      So, when I eat egg rolls in the Vietnamese style (which is to say, wrapped in lettuce to facilitate gripping the roll without burning the fingers), have I created a sandwich?

      • Justin Runia says:

        Basically. But the key turn here is when the food-consumption accessory becomes an essential part of the bite; a pollo asado plate served with some tortillas isn’t necessarily a sandwich, as you can eat the chicken without use of the tortilla, but becomes a sandwich when offered as chicken tacos.

  25. To be clear, a sandwich is is a flat or flat-ish conveyance for meats, veggies, fruits, condiments, and cheeses that must be…sandwiched between two breadlike foodstuffs.

    By this measure, a hoagie isn’t a sandwich, nor is a lobster roll, nor is an italian beef sandwich, nor many french dips. There are businesses called “sandwich shops” which sell no products that match your definition here. This is an extremely radical position.

    Trying to find an a priori definition of a sandwich is a fool’s errand. Sandwiches are a paraphyletic clade. The only reliable definition of a sandwich is “a foodstuff that a statistical majority of English speakers accept as a sandwich.”

  26. kped says:

    A Jamaican beef pattie is not a sandwich, but my brother turns it into one by slapping it in between 2 slices of bread, adding Mayo and lettuce and BBQ sauce. I’ve alerted the police to this monstrosity.

  27. Earl of says:

    whatever.., Bet!

  28. Phil Koop says:

    Today I Learned that “never read the comments” applies to the hermeneutics of sandwiches.

  29. kenjob says:

    Any operational definition of a sandwich must respect the essential innovation of the original. The sandwich was not introduced as a way to establish some arbitrary carb:filling ratio. The point of a sandwich is to dislocate the meal from the ceremony of dining. Sandwiches are those foodstuffs which effect this dislocation by increasing the number of distinct meal components that can be simultaneously manipulated via the trophic apparatus without rescaling the relative size of distinct meal components. Note that this increase is diagnostic only in contrast to some more ceremonial but otherwise equivalent meal.

    If consumption of a foodstuff is tractable without a plate and that foodstuff comprises two or more components that a more ceremonial context would preclude manipulating simultaneously, it’s probably a sandwich.

  30. Jordan says:

    We have 7 years more of this, y’all.

  31. MPAVictoria says:

    People my definition avoids all of these thorny philosophical issues and debates…. A sandwich is a carb with any type of filling or topping. Simple, straightforward and correct.

  32. Jake the antisoshul soshulist says:

    Hot Brown, mofos!!!

  33. Jim in Baltimore says:

    I will go out on a limb and say that a crabcake eaten between two saltines (with mustard, of course, what am I, a beast?) is a sandwich.

  34. Jordan says:

    The current sandwhich that I often make for myself is two pieces of toasted bread, with peanut butter on both. On one I put a bunch of relish. On that same one I squirt some deli spicy/brown mustard.

    My partner thinks this is incredibly gross. In fact, everyone I tell this about thinks its incredibly gross. And, well, it is unduly salty. But I don’t care, I like it.

  35. Incontinentia Buttocks says:

    I hope this means that you’ll be covering the ongoing “is cereal-and-milk a soup?” controversy! (Hint: it isn’t.)

  36. jpgray says:

    The only correct position is that of the nominalist. Sandwiches are whatever are commonly called sandwiches.

    Don’t be the pedantic unhuman idealist who asks to borrow a bicycle and rides off in a Harley. A burrito is not a sandwich.

  37. yenwoda says:

    I’m no sandwich purist, but a burrito is a poor (if delicious) relative at best. A sandwich needs bread, the filling needs to be exposed and the starch-to-filling ratio needs to fall within a sensible range. Burritos are 0 for 3 here. What’s next, goddamn dumplings?

  38. N__B says:

    Mallomars are sandwiches.

    There. I said it.

    • jpgray says:

      We must live in the real world and resist the press of unsinewing abstractions on language.

      We must live in the real world, the living world of humans and speech, where ice cream sandwiches are sandwiches, and the Oreo yet remains a cookie.

      Drown with me in this ocean of unreasoning colloquialisms – let us go down to its bottom, settle on its abyssal plains, and be happy.

  39. Linnaeus says:

    Apparently, folks haven’t read my sandwich appendix in Systema Naturae.

  40. MPAVictoria says:

    Guys once you accept that like… 70% of food is some form of sandwich life becomes soooo much better.

  41. Dr. Ronnie James, DO says:

    THEY: Hey, I’m picking up lunch. Want anything?
    YOU: Yeah…just get me a sandwich, I guess.
    [THEY leave. time passes]

    THEY: Here’s a hot dog. sorry I couldn’t get you a sandwich.
    YOU: that’s OK. Thanks anyway – this’ll do.

    THEY: Here’s your sandwich!
    [hands you a hot dog/ pizza/ pho/ white hot branding iron]
    YOU: [beat them mercilessly]

    I consider this matter settled.

  42. Donalbain says:

    I honestly can’t imagine what it would be like to be THIS wrong, and then to top it off by pointing out how wrong you are in the very title of your own piece of spectacular wrongitude!

    The Earl of Sandwich completely definitely invented the sandwich when he asked for meat encased in bread so that he would not get his hands greasy when playing cards. A hot dog is meat encased in bread that one can eat without getting one’s hands greasy while playing cards. It is not just a sandwich, it is a sandwich in an almost Platonic sense.

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO says:

      YOU: Sure, I’d love a hot dog!
      [time passes]
      THEY: Here you go!
      [hand you a hot dog sandwich aka a hot dog encased in actual bread]

    • Daglock says:

      Originalist bias. The founding father, the good Earl, lived before the concoction of peanut butter. Does not the definition evolve to adapt to changes in technology and cultural norms?

  43. petemack says:

    Not only does the tweet mis-identify chicken pot pie as a sandwich, but it shows a home made pot pie WITHOUT A MASHED POTATO ‘CRUST’. The horror, the horror.

  44. N__B says:

    This entire discussion is all about ethics in sandwich journalism.

  45. rea says:

    I have the definitive answer–I consulted George of local restaurant, “Burger George” (last night in bed). He tells me burgers aren’t sandwiches. Subs are sandwiches. Things on buns can be sandwiches, but it depends on the kind of bun. Vox burger, vox dei

  46. bender says:

    Nowhere near 500 comments yet.

    Consider the large sheet of lavash spread with fillings, rolled up and sliced into segments.

    It is functionally a sandwich, and consists of ordinary sandwich ingredients, but structurally it is a roulade.

    No other kind of roulade is a sandwich. Therefore I’m going to classify lavash roll-ups as a subcategory of wraps.

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