The Maneater

Column: What makes a Sandwich?

Sandwiches are commonplace in the American diet, but what actually constitutes as a sandwich?

Joshua Waitsman is a junior English and sociology major at MU. He is an opinion columnist who writes about sports and other miscellaneous topics for The Maneater.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines sandwich as “two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between.” Unfortunately, this leaves too much room for interpretation and someone needs to crackdown on imposters that claim to be sandwiches.

But, why should you care what is and what isn’t a sandwich?

As college students we should always be open for debate and be willing to hear a new side to an argument. For instance, how do you pronounce syrup? Is water wet? Is a hot dog a sandwich? These questions may not seem important and, in truth, they aren’t. However, what is important is expanding our horizons and learning as much as we can in our short time here at college.

With that being said there are two main things to consider when deciding whether or not something is a sandwich. First is the structure. Second is the ingredients. Structure-purists argue that a sandwich must have two pieces of the same ingredient on the outside with a different ingredient or set of ingredients as the filling. An ingredient-purist, however, will conversely argue that it does not matter what the shape of the sandwich is as long as it is a grain based outside with mostly a meat/vegetable filling.

To break down what is and isn’t a sandwich, I asked fellow Maneater columnist Corey Davidson to assist me in defining whether or not several key foods are sandwiches. Here are a few examples to get your juices flowing:

Hot dog

Josh: Whether or not you are a structure- or ingredient-purist, a hot dog is a sandwich. Structurally it follows the bread on the outside, meat on the inside argument. It also satisfies the ingredient arguments with its two main ingredients being bread and meat.

Corey: I’m going to have to agree with Josh on this one. I think a big part of being a sandwich is the ability to be customized and hot dogs are incredibly so. The famous Chicago Dog, New York styles or anything between are all sandwiches.

Verdict: Sandwich


Josh: It may follow the ingredient argument, but it’s hard to get past how wildly different the structure of a burrito compared to a traditional sandwich. For the simple reason that you can't really eat a burrito from one end after you have started on the other end without spilling its contents I’m going to have to say that a burrito cannot be a sandwich.

Corey: Josh’s argument is mostly sound, but I think it falls a little short. The quality of a burrito eating experience depends more on the integrity of the consumer than the integrity of the tortilla. If you can carefully eat a burrito and avoid spillage, then it sure is a sandwich. I’m going to go with the ingredient argument with this one, as it is usually infallible.

Verdict: Sandwich (Begrudgingly)


Josh: A Pop-Tart is bread on the outside with filling in the middle and did you know that Pop-Tarts come in peanut butter? However, if it’s frosted, it is not structurally a sandwich anymore, so only unfrosted pop tarts can even have a chance of being a sandwich.

Corey: This one is a no for me. Pop-Tarts have never been marketed as sandwiches, nor do they function as such. Pop-Tarts are often put into toasters, so let me ask you this: do you call a piece of toast a sandwich? I think not. Only the peanut butter ones vaguely resemble a sandwich, but even that is a stretch.

Verdict: Not a sandwich

Ice Cream Sandwich

Josh: It’s hard to argue against something that has sandwich in the name. It even follows the structure argument to a tee, but I’m a firm believer that a sandwich should be able to be a full meal on its own in a pinch and an ice cream sandwich just doesn’t have that capability.

Corey: Ice cream sandwiches do not fulfill the ingredient argument. It’s cute and all to present it to look like a sandwich, but at the end of the day, it’s just ice cream LARPing as a sandwich. Sandwiches usually offer two taste experiences at once: bread and something else. Two sweet things, usually chocolate wafers and ice cream, do not provide a taste melody like other sandwiches. Kind of like how peanuts are, botanically speaking, not nuts but legumes.

Verdict: Not a sandwich

Bosco Sticks

Josh: From an ingredient standpoint a Bosco Stick is no different than a grilled cheese, which we all can agree is a sandwich. Structurally though a Bosco Stick is nowhere near what a sandwich should look like. If it wasn’t for the fact that Bosco Sticks are usually dipped in marinara sauce then they could definitely be a sandwich, but alas they are only a type of breadstick.

Corey: I cannot in good faith imagine a Bosco Stick ever being presented as a sandwich. Heck, I would even say that two pizza slices folded on top of each other are more of a sandwich than Bosco Sticks. Bosco Sticks are meant to compliment other foods, not to be the main course. As Josh mentioned earlier, a sandwich should be able to stand alone. Perhaps if Bosco Sticks were larger and not in a stick form, they could be up for consideration.

Verdict: Not a sandwich

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