Let’s Talk About Sammiches, Baby

I saw an infographic recently and I’m a tad perplexed.

Maybe perplexed isn’t the right word. I feel ashamed of my fellow Americans. Sure, I don’t need infographics to feel disconnected from humanity. All it takes is a short conversation to know that ninety percent of the time, I’m on a little Wombat Island with no hope of getting a proper non-extradition treaty from anyone else nearby.

But I at least figured I wouldn’t be surprised when it came to culinary desires of my fellow Americans. Deep fried, good. Healthy, bad.

So then, why are people listing grilled chicken as their second-favorite sandwich?

Not sure if you saw this, but they polled Americans about their favorite sandwich. Here are the results.

And I’ve got lots of thinkies and feelies on this one.

First of all, if you’re a math genius like myself, you’ll note that these percentages don’t add up to 100%. So it wasn’t a matter of “list your favorite.” It was just a question of if you liked it or not. Which, in some cases makes it worse.

For instance, if you made me list my top two or three sandwiches,  pretty sure peanut butter and jelly wouldn’t be there. But as an overall “Do you like a PB&J?” Hell, yes!

But it only ranked at 66%, meaning one out of every three Americans doesn’t like it. Who the fuck are these Americans? I’d call them dirty commies, but most commies like Jimmy Carter, so they’re probably the peanut-butter eaters. Is it the people who are freaked out about peanut allergies? Maybe they think peanuts are some government conspiracy. So we’ve got communists and anti-vaxxers, but that still only adds up to about ten percent of the population. Who the hell else doesn’t like peanut butter and jelly?

Okay, maybe the great American staple has a few things going against it. It combines two rather distinct flavors, and if you’re not a fan of one or the either, you’re probably hoping to eschew the whole thing. And okay, if I’m honest, jelly’s kinda nasty. You’ve got these globules of sugar trying to mesh with the saltiness of the peanut butter, a dichotomy made even more awkward by all you rat bastards who eat that smooth crap instead of the proper chunky style.

There are plenty of other things that pair better with the peanut butter. I like bacon. Or, if I really want something sweet, honey is a great compliment. But neither of those detract from PB&J being a bona fide sandwich in its own right,  deserving higher than a D grade from the American public.

Maybe some people think PB&J is too childish. But then how do you account for grilled cheese at number one?

Don’t get me wrong. I love me some grilled cheese. It’s melty and gooey and buttery, with just the right amount of crispiness. The only thing it’s missing is meat. Unless you’re throwing some of last night’s leftovers in there, which I totally recommend. Or a nice slice of bacon. Chopped up.

Maybe that missing meat is what puts it over the top. The vegetarian contingent isn’t selecting the next batch of options, but they’ll have the grilled cheese. Vegans won’t go for the cheese, which should give PB&J a slight edge. But I guess that’s why they play the game.

Then again, who are the 23% of Americans that DON’T like grilled cheese?

But let’s get beyond the meatless options and look at the smorgasbord of charcuterie boards. Not too many surprises rounding out the top five. Chicken and turkey in a virtual tie. The deli counter prefers turkey, but restaurants and fast food are more likely to have chicken. I’m curious if the “grilled” chicken means hot only, or all chicken. What about fried chicken? Given the line in front of me at the Chick-fil-a drive thru on a typical non-Sunday, I think most Americans included a spicy chicken & pickle as “grilled chicken” in this context.

Then comes roast beef. Fine. Whatever. We all knew it would best it ham, right?  Nobody likes ham. I mean, sure, sometimes you have a real hankering for a salt lick dropped in a filmy formaldehyde, but nine times out of ten, you’re gonna take the beef or the poultry over the pig. Just not over PB&J, evidently.

Why is ham still an option when they’re are two other wonderful pig options? Astute readers, and decent human beings, will note a common ingredient that I added to improve both the peanut butter and the cheese sandwiches. In fact, if someone wants to make me a grilled peanut butter, bacon, and cheese sandwich right now, I’d probably nominate you for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Bacon makes its dominance known in the bottom half of the top ten. First up is the BLT. Alright, sure. This brings up the age- old question if there’s cheese on a BLT. Some say no. And if that’s a no, then I’m a no for the BLT as the sixth-best sandwich. Full disclosure, I’m not a huge tomato fan. Put avocado on that bad boy and we can have a talk. But nobody wants to have to order a BLAC. At best, you sound like you’re retching. At worst, well…

But what the heck is a bacon sandwich? I’m not saying I’ve never slapped some bacon between two pieces of bread and started munching away. After all, I was an adult bachelor for damn near twenty years. But I’ve never seen a straight bacon sandwich on any menu in any deli or restaurant. Not even fast food does that. I’m pretty sure Jack-in-the-Box has a Bacon Bacon Bacon Burger. But it’s still a burger. Could I order it with no beef? Probably. It’s just never occurred to me. And if a way to consume bacon hasn’t crossed my mind, it’s probably not a legitimate thing.

Then there’s the club. A club sandwich has turkey and bacon, yet it’s ranked below both a turkey sandwich and a BLT. Meaning there are people who said they like a turkey sandwich and they like a bacon sandwich, but they don’t like a turkey and bacon sandwich. Maybe they just don’t like toothpicks. Seriously, Club Sandwich, why do you insist on being chopped in four? Is your “club” underwritten by the toothpick industry?

And then we travel down the list to find the other pork product. Why the hell is pulled pork ranked so low? It’s five spots below ham. Four percent of Americans would rather consume their pork in slimy brick form than in wonderfully shredded strips of nirvana soaking up a tangy barbecue sauce or a spicy mustard sauce or maybe a teriyaki base. Because pulled pork can really be served any old way you want. One of our favorite things to do is let the pork sit in a crock pot all day then take its juices to cook a spicy ramen. Do the 35% of Americans who don’t like pulled pork know that? I don’t think they do, because I’m also aghast whenever I’m at a taco truck and some people order tacos other than carnitas. I assumed that the word scared people away. But maybe it isn’t the foreign word. It’s just the 35% of us who eschew the crispy, slurpy ambrosia.

Sorry, I meant 31%. The four percent who like ham but not pulled pork are a lost cause.

Of course, these rankings are total bullshit because the single best sandwich isn’t even listed. Where the fuck is the cheesesteak? Maybe some people thought it was included in the “roast beef” option, but I doubt it. After all, they differentiate between bacon and BLT, so the implication is that additional ingredients make a different sandwich. Especially if it has its own name. After all, the French Dip is listed as a separate option, so roast beef can’t be a catch-all.

Wait, why is French Dip so low? Y’all know it’s just a roast beef sandwich with a side of juice, right? You don’t HAVE to moisten it if you don’t want to. Does the availability of an option really drive away 25% of the people? If I offer a pickle on the side of your grilled cheese, have I ruined it? Let’s be honest. We all just hate the French Dip because of its name, right?

Which is why you’ll note I called the best sandwich a cheesteak, not a Philly. Because fuck Philadelphia. The sandwich they make isn’t really all that good. Cheez Whiz? Really? When I say cheesesteak, I’m talking about grilled onions and grilled peppers with some provolone cheese. Maybe add some grilled mushrooms if I’m in the mood. Change the provolone to cheddar? Sure. Mozzarella? That can be fun. Hell, I might even allow a side of au jus sauce.

What about American cheese? Watch it, that’s getting close to Philly territory.

As a general rule, if I’m trying a new sandwich place or a new lunch restaurant, I’ll usually order a cheesesteak the first time I’m there. It’s a good barometer of their overall food quality. What kind of bread is it on? What cheese do they use? Do they add one or two ingredients or completely go off the rails?

And I can’t be alone in this regard. There are at least three Cheesesteak restaurants within ten miles of my house. One of them is part of a chain, the others subsist entirely off of variations on one sandwich. And bear in mind I live 3000 miles away from Philadelphia. This ain’t no regional appetite.

So why didn’t it appear on this poll? Hell, you guys asked about BOTH egg salad and tuna fish, and I’m pretty sure those are the same sandwich. It’s called a mayonnaise sandwich. The bacon sandwich shown looks suspiciously close to a mayo sandwich, as well.

And yes, this is only the top 15. Others sandwiches were polled. They had a Muffuletta and a Cuban. Those are more regional than a cheesesteak, although Cubans are definitely starting to leave the southeast. But I’ve never seen a Muffuletta farther than 100 miles from Louisiana.

But I looked at the entire list, and there was no cheesesteak.

Hopefully the missing cheesesteak means we can just throw out the results of the entire survey. The entire premise was flawed from the start. You don’t have to look with suspicion at your fellow Americans, wondering which weirdos rank a Reuben above a pastrami.

And if the results are bogus, you know what that means?

Come here, PB&J. Give us a hug. We were just joking.

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