Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Complete, Unambiguous Sandwich Definition (CUSD)

CUSD Terms Explained

"Frame": The part of the sandwich you hold. e.g., bread, bun or wrap

"Essence": The filling. e.g., the cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich

The Definition

A sandwich is an assembly of food parts capable of being held without great hardship or mess.

All sandwiches possess a frame that covers some part of the essence. The frame must be made of a material that is in an edible state when the essence is added, and must have an outlet that exposes the essence before the first bite is taken. In other words, the frame may not completely surround the essence (e.g., a burrito), though the essence need not actually be visible.

The essence of a sandwich can be any substance, as long as it is not formed into a non-natural shape (e.g., any burger). Note, however, that a substance formed into a non-natural shape that is sliced and assembled within a frame as described above qualifies as a sandwich (e.g., salami).

In coming days I will provide more examples about what is, and what is not, a sandwich. Feel free to suggest your own examples.

I welcome your comments and questions. The definition seems airtight, but I know there are those who would like to see it defeated. If exceptions are noted, this definition may need to be altered.

But I doubt it.


Anonymous said...

How can wraps be sandwiches but not hamburgers? "Hamburgers" even used to be called "hamburger sandwiches" and still are by really old people.

Who are you to argue with really old people?

Ryan said...

Thanks for the question.
A burger is an entirely different category of food. While it is physically similar to a sandwich in many ways, it still is not a sandwich. Dogs and cats are very similar, and both are mammals, but they are still very different. Just like dogs are cats, burgers and sandwiches are related, but different.

It's like they're cousins: they have the same grandparents but went to different high schools.

I don't seek out old people to argue with, but if I am confronted by one, I will stand up for my side of the sandwich/burger debate.

Tom said...

Sausage Egg McMuffin: Sandwich or burger?

What if it's just a "plain" Egg McMuffin?

I expect the DSI team to launch a full (and delicious!) investigation, and update your anxious readers accordingly.

(So anxious, in fact, that we mistakenly posted this comment twice.)

Tom said...

Dear DSI:

After further research, I have more questions about your definition.

In terms of essence, you wrote:

The essence of a sandwich can be any substance, as long as it is not formed into a non-natural shape (e.g., any “burg er”). Note, however, that a substance formed into a non-natural shape that is sliced and assembled within a frame as described above qualifies as a sandwich (e.g., salami).

Now, given these parameters, which of the following is not a sandwich:

q) egg salad sandwich
b) tuna salad snadwich
c) salmon salad sandwich
d) chicken salad sandwich
e) turkey salad sandwich
f) devilled ham sandwich
g) the bane of my childhood, the dreaded (+/-"devilled") Velveeta™ cheese food product and Miracle Whip™ (+/-"salad") sandwich

Before answering, please note, if you will, that all of the above ingredients have been chopped or ground before being mixed into an essence that can be spread on the frame, resulting in an unnatural, yet unsliced shape.

How is this process any different from a burger? And yet, the above are not only called "sandwiches," they are indeed the staple sandwich components at picnics, school events, and church luncheons catered by little old ladies.

I am confused. Please help.

Brandon said...

What if I were to put salami on a hamburger bun?

Ryan Abbott said...

Salami on a hamburger bun is totally fine. It's a sandwich.

The key is that the salami is sliced. That's what makes the whole thing a sandwich. Put it on bread, or a bagel, or a hot dog bun, whatever. Still a sandwich. The fact that it's on a hamburger bun makes no difference.

A burger isn't a sandwich because it's a non-naturally occurring shape, and not sliced.

Patrick Burt said...

Incredible discussion. Casey forwarded me this link and I'm completely boggled. My mother prepared me a "lunch" (we can both agree it is a lunch, right?). It consisted of.. 2 slices of bread, (a frame that leads me to believe it's a sandwich) and a hamburger patty (a non-sliced essence that leads me to believe it's a hamburger).

Now I ask you, savant of sandwiches, what is your interpretation?

For reference, the condiments included: mayo, mustard, lettuce and cheese. (applicable to both sandwiches and hamburgers). However, ketchup was used on HALF the lunch.

I need your help! said...

PB, thanks for the Q.

What you have there, courtesy of your mom, is a burger.

Because the essence is a burger patty, unsliced, a sandwich it ain't. The patty, ground meat shaped into its typical non-naturally occurring form, is the NSI -- the "non-sandwich indicator," directing the food train towards Burgerville and away from Sandwich City.

The condiments make no difference. You could have applied the ketchup into a Star of David and it would have changed nothing.

As to the question of whether it's a lunch, I can only quote Douglas Adams:

"Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so."

Jake & Molly said...

Okay. So I must argue this (and yes, it tortures me so to argue with one that is as much a admirer, consumer, and lover of sandwiches as I am, and all others who are urged to argue their points on this wonderful blog):

Non-natural in shape would apply to a hamburger patty, I agree. But whether this NSI constitutes the reason for categorization outside of "sandwich" is in question.

Example: Hamburger patty = chopped, ground beef originally from a cow, yes. Sliced turkey sandwich = filling/essence between two slices of bread = meat from a turkey = shape and form not like a live turkey at all, yes?
Picture a picture a ziploc bag filled with sliced, cooked/smoked/baked turkey. They don't look alike; I say this is also a non-natural form.

Beef that is ground, cooked, and shaped from its original source (the cow) undergoes processes just as the aforementioned turkey. A pig, for that matter! Slaughtered, de-feathered (turkey)or skinned (pig), chopped up, sliced, cooked/baked/smoked/fried/whatever, (sorry for the visual) sent to deli to be packaged up conveniently for you. Not the same as a real pig! We cannot be biased about the state of the meat: rigid enough to simply be sliced, as in turkey, or soft enough for the need to undergo the 'ground-ness' factor, as in beef. I don't think we have the authority to decide what constitues a sandwich merely on the "grounds" of processing. Get it, "grounds?" Ha ha... ohhh. You had to be there, right?

I urge the amendment of the CUSD immediately. Our future of sandwich definitions depends on this! peace out...

Anonymous said...

If you cut a slice of bread in half and put a filling in between, is this a sandwich, or half a sandwich, or neither?

Kelly said...

By your frame/essence definition, rolled sushi is a sandwich. The fact that we usually, most politely, consume rolled sushi with wooden sticks does not enter into it. The sticks are an aberration. Rolled sushi was invented to be easily consumed by hand by gamblers -- the seaweed wrap on the outside kept the fingers from being soiled and thus marking the cards.

Please refine your definition to exclude rolled sushi. I think we can all agree that sushi is no sandwich.