What makes a sandwich a sandwich? Fooda tries to find out.

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July 19th was National Hot Dog Day, a favorite holiday here at Fooda. Since then, social media sites have been buzzing about whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich.

The Fooda team weighed in, deciding definitively that hot dogs shouldn’t live under the “Sandwiches” header of menus nationwide.

Is a hot dog a sandwich? Char

That made us wonder, what makes a sandwich a sandwich? The answer is simple…or so we thought.

You need meat. Cheese. Some kind of sauce. And you obviously need bread.

But if those are the only parameters, that means a burrito is a sandwich and a PB&J isn’t. That didn’t sit very well with us. It became clear that we’d need to consult outside counsel.

First we turned to the letter of the law. The U.S. Department of Agriculture gets quite technical, saying the “product must contain at least 35% cooked meat and no more than 50% bread.” Feel free to dig through all 187 pages of their Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book to find that nugget.

By their definition, PB&J doesn’t make the cut, nor does the mighty grilled cheese. Sorry, childhood. The USDA also seems to think vegetarians aren’t enjoying sandwiches. We needed another source.

We turned to an institution that’s cemented their reputation by ending arguments like this: Merriam-Webster. They had a much more liberal interpretation than the USDA.


Sandwich (noun)

  1. two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between
  2. one slice of bread covered with foodGyro Sandwich

Welcome back, PB&J.

Open-faced? They’re open to them.

Burritos? Not this time, but you could make a case for gyros.

Our final effort was to consult a true sandwich savant. Steve O’Brien, a formally trained chef and owner of Chicago’s BRGRBELLY and BeefBelly, weighed in with a perspective as beautiful as it is profound:

“The beautiful part about a sandwich is that you can make a meal into a sandwich or a sandwich into a meal. Sandwiches can push you back to childhood. As you bite into a simple peanut butter and jelly on butternut bread, the peanut butter sticks to the roof of your mouth, you feel the emotions of days gone by. Or you can have an explosive sandwich experience, where it takes you around the world, because it is the ultimate street food. Whether it be a ban mi, a croque monsieur, a crispy cuban pork, the sandwich reminds you of places you’ve been and places you want to go. The sandwich is like life, the more you add to it the better it becomes.”

Even with Steve’s moving perspective, the jury is still out here at Fooda HQ. What do you think makes a sandwich a sandwich? Send us a tweet with your thoughts @gofooda.