Sunday, October 22, 2006


After lengthy discussions with others in our field of expertise, it has been determined that the introduction of an Evolutionary Model is in order if we are to clarify the different types of foods which qualify as sandwiches. At this moment in time, there exist at least four models of sandwiches. With the help of our blogger friend “Zombitron,” we have described these variations with exceptional clarity of mind, defining the four as follows:

Stage 1 of the Evolutionary Cycle:

Though we cannot confirm what type of sandwich the Earl of Sandwich preferred, we have been assured that the original sandwich was of the Classical variety: An edible substance surrounded by two pieces of bread, be it wheat, rye, white, sourdough, pumpernickel, garlic bread, etc. All around the Western world, people can be found eating ham and cheese sandwiches and others which could be classified under the Classical definition. The bathroom cleaner sandwich (Drano on white) would apply to the Classical model. To eliminate any confusion, we offer the following image of a Classical sandwich:

Stage 2 of the Evolutionary Cycle:

Earl inspired many regional variations of the sandwich, which have come to be known as the domestic models of sandwiches, including the French Dip, Po’ Boy, Philly Cheese Steak, Hot Dog, Hero, Submarine, Muffaletta, etc. According to those in Philly, a real Philly Cheese Steak cannot be found anywhere outside of Philly; likewise, though the hot dog was invented in St. Louis, those in Chicago would never praise a dog eaten outside of the Chicagoland Area. For the uninitiated of you, this is a hot dog (notice that no ketchup is present):

Stage 3 of the Evolutionary Cycle:

While us Americans were busy making variations of the classical model, many in foreign nations utilized their creativity in making purely original creations which, unbeknownst to them, may indeed be considered sandwiches, such as the burrito, the stromboli, and the gyro, to name a few. These free-thinking trendsetters don’t think twice about baking the entire sandwich (stromboli) or enclosing the ingredients entirely within a single piece of bread (burrito, gyro). While there is considerable disagreement concerning the status of the stromboli (pictured below) as a sandwich, due to the bread being dough at the time of the sandwich’s assembly, we feel confident including the stromboli in this category until you, the readers, stage a protest.

Stage 4 of the Evolutionary Cycle:

Finally, as if the boundaries hadn’t been pushed enough by our quesadilla-eating neighbors to the South, the improvisational sandwich has evolved to epic proportions, with people referring to s’mores and open-faced items as “sandwiches,” and even, according to some reports, eating Adderall burgers and Dorito sandwiches. While it has been argued that “air” may qualify as the top of the open-faced sandwich, it has not yet been determined whether an open-faced sandwich is indeed a sandwich; nor has the status of the “Dorito Sandwich” been verified by our research team. Furthermore, if a stromboli is a sandwich, and there exists such a thing as an open-faced sandwich, then is a pizza a sandwich? We need your help.


Scott said...

As a student of biology, I must say, my heart did gladden at the sight of this biological model of the sandwich. As the rumble of the post-modernist's battle fades it inevitably becomes the task of the civilized world to reconcile the dichotomies illustrated by artists and social thinkers of the 20th century. As part of such a campaign examples that typify such dialectical synthesis are of premium value; the sandwich is just such a case. Moreover, the evolutionary model of sanwich ontology exhibits a breathtaking uunion of rational truth and aesthetic beauty.

That said, while I agree with some of the conclusions drawn by the evolutionary model (specifically, the inclusion of calzones, burritos and the like), I cannot agree with your reasoning. To continue using the biological metaphor, you are forgetting about what is known as convergent evolution. This is when two unrelated species, in different places but experiencing similar environmental conditions, evolve similar physical characteristics. That is two species of bird - say owls - living in very similar habitats but on different continents will eventually look the same, since they occupy the same niche. Why isn't this kind of explanation just as plausible as yours (that all sandwich-like entities are "phylogenetically" related)? The answer is that it IS just as plausible. This isn't to say that all these sandwhiches aren't reated, but that this needs to be shown in order for the sandwich community to accept your hypothesis as fact. Evidence of intermediate forms (say, between the classical sandwich and a hotdog, for example) would go a long way towards supporting your case.

Even if the varios sandwich-like entities turn out to be phylogenetically unrelated then we still may want to include them under the title sandwich. I think the argument then would have to borrow from anthropology more than from biology. That is, an approach analagous to cultural relativism may be the most fuitful in the event that the sandwich-like foods are only convergently similar. But that opens up a whole other can of worms - all about paternalistic racism, oversubsidization of domestic products, and the whole preservationist aesthetic in general...

...some other time, yeah?

Albert (pronounced al-bare) Pujols (pronounced poo-holes) puts so many steroids in his breakfast cereal.

Anonymous said...


Awesome post, just want to say thanks for the share