We Rated America's Most Classic Sandwiches and Things Got Ugly
Relationships were torn apart and blood was shed when we tried to have a civil discussion about the merits (or lack thereof) of BLTs and egg salad sandwiches. Happy National Sandwich Day.
Photo via Flickr user bionicgrrl
It's National Sandwich Day. "Whoop-dee-doo," you're probably saying. "Yesterday was National Deviled Eggs Day, and the day before was National Deep Fried Clams Day. Stop trying to trick me into caring about all of these fake holidays that were invented by PR people in the interest of selling things that are otherwise so inconsequential and commonplace that I wouldn't spend an iota of brain power thinking about them."
No, no, no. We're talking about sandwiches. They're terribly important, and today is the day to celebrate them. This is a far cry from the utter desperation of National Deep Fried Clams Day. Sandwiches are worthy of our recognition, our thoughts, and our praise. In America, we eat a lot of sandwiches. In fact, about half of Americans eat a sandwich on any given day.
But with so many sandwiches at our disposal, how do we know which ones are really the best? In the canon of classic American sandwiches, where should we turn?
We asked the MUNCHIES staff to assess the value of 15 of America's most well-known combinations of bread 'n' stuff, both on a scale of 1–10 and with some more in-depth notes.
Things got ugly. There were all caps and exclamation points and revelations that certain members of our team hated lettuce on sandwiches, for instance (WTF???), or had never had a Sloppy Joe (smdh). We'll leave you out of all that drama, or at least, most of it.
We then averaged the scores and sorted them from worst to best. Here you go.
Let's say that this one is on a soft roll or sesame bun, no cabbage slaw.
Overall score: 2.5
Hilary Pollack (Associate Editor): 1. Absolutely terrible. Even the name is horrifying.
Matt Zuras (Senior Editor): 2. WORST SANDWICH EVER TBH.
Brad Cohen (Weekend Editor): A 2 if it was cooked by the lunch lady from Billy Madison; 8.5 if you're drunkkkk and getting the oxtail sloppy joe at The Rookery. [Ed. note: No, we are not getting that fancy shit. No oxtail. We're talking about what you'd find in a high school cafeteria or at your aunt's house in Kalamazoo.]
Helen Hollyman (Editor in Chief): 5—my inner lunch lady loves these.
BALONEY AND MAYO
On white bread, preferably Wonder Bread, obviously. DEFINITELY made by your mom or is being eaten drunkenly at 2 AM in your kitchen.
Overall score: 3.5
Hilary: This is a 9. This is perfection. This is also the easiest-to-eat sandwich in the world. You could definitely eat this while riding a bike or something.
Matt: I GIVE IT A 2 UNLESS FRIED. WILENSKY'S, WHAT UP.
Alex Swerdloff (Staff Writer): Lunchables left a stain on baloney that not even the finest of sandwiches could erase.
Brad: 1. Maybe the worst sandwich ever.
Nick Rose (Staff Writer): 0, sketch.
Barry Frish (Test Kitchen Manager): A 3, but add American cheese and it's a 9.5.
Tuna salad on white or sourdough, no pickles. We're talking the basics. Tuna melts are not included.
Overall score: 4.5
Hilary: Tuna sandwiches get a 1. My mom put these in my lunchbox all throughout elementary school and by lunchtime they'd be soggy and my bag would smell like a forgotten fishtank. Dark. Sorry, mom.
Brad: I've never eaten one because they sound terrible.
Farideh Sadeghin (Culinary Director): [to Brad] I hate you.
Nick: Tastes better than it smells.
Helen: This is an old friend of mine.
Picture a turkey club on white bread, with lettuce, tomato, and bacon, probably procured from the café at a golf course. No avocado, despite the interpretations of those hippies in California.
Overall score: 5.5
Alex: If humanity had the technology to turn a person into a sandwich, the club sandwich would be that one guy who was kicked out of your local golf club after it was discovered he was sticking his penis in half-drunk Shirley Temples. Besides, who in the hell needs three pieces of bread for a sandwich? You have to think about those ratios.
Matt: I had an excellent club sandwich at the golf course cafe at Wente Vineyards in California. Toothpicks with the little plastic shit on them are a plus.
Nick: Any sandwich should be structurally sound enough to not require toothpicks, and the bread always cuts the roof of my mouth.
Brad: Safe sandwich to eat at a suspect restaurant, but generally has shitty bread and is not the easiest to eat.
Barry: Without those toothpicks with frilly things, it's not a club sandwich.
GO-TO, STANDARD TURKEY SANDWICH
You know, the one from your local bodega/deli counter/cheap tile-floored sandwich place run by disaffected youth. Lettuce, tomato, mayo, turkey, maybe a slice of cheese or some mustard, possibly pickles/onions if your place provides them. On a roll.
Overall score: 6
Hilary: I give it a 4 if it's from anyone but the hot guy, Lucky, who makes sandwiches between 9 PM and 4 AM at the bodega on my block. He gets a 9.
Matt: A 9 IF PURCHASED WHILE BLACKOUT DRUNK AT A BODEGA, WITH SWISS, MAYO, MUSTARD, LETTUCE, TOMATO (AND ON A HERO, NOT A FUCKING WRAP).
Nick: 6—only good if it's made by an elite sandwich craftsman.
Sydney Mondry (Social Editor): ALWAYS too dry.
Barry: Needs condiment clarification. Does this include oil and vinegar?
Helen: 6. Like the guy you keep dating who has no personality, but it's fine for right now.
With whiz, onions optional.
Overall score: 6
Hilary: Something about cheesesteaks tastes like sadness to me.
Alex: It doesn't matter how disgusting Cheez Whiz is. If you aren't using it for a cheesesteak, you're doing something wrong. The cheese should act as a sauce and soak itself into all parts of the sandwich, and Cheez Whiz is a surefire way of ensuring that.
Brad: 5. Possibly the most overrated sandwich in history.
Nick: Obligatory whiz.
Helen: Always with whiz.
Barry: REALLY depends where it's from.
EGG SALAD SANDWICH
Probably from the cold case at Walgreen's, next to the packaged celery sticks.
Overall score: 6
Matt: 8.5. IT SHOULD MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE SHIT.
Alex: 4. No self-respecting person would willingly choose to eat a sandwich that reminds them of their grandparents each and every time they take a bite.
Nick: 3. Too much of a good thing .
Sydney: A 7—has to be made by my Grammie, though.
Helen: THIS IS ONE OF THE GREATEST SANDWICHES IN THE WORLD.
From a quaint seaside town or a restaurant in your hometown that has wooden benches for seating.
Overall score: 6.
Hilary: Gimme that buttery brioche and we're talking. However, I would never eat these in a place that is more than 50 miles from the coast.
Matt: 4. MORE OVERRATED THAN CRONUTS.
Nick: 5. Expensive and boring .
Barry: Love lobster rolls but they are NOT a sandwich. 5.
Helen: Good times, but also expensive AF. If I'm on a date with a high roller, I will order this. My inner Puritan does not reward thyself with enough of these.
PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY
The only way to make a PB&J is on untoasted white or whole wheat bread, with strawberry or grape jam, with non-natural peanut butter. All hail Skippy and Jif.
Overall score: 6.5 [Opinions fluctuated wildly here, with ratings from 3/10 to 12/10]
Brad: Will sustain you, easy to make, never bad… but never good either. Definition of mediocrity.
Nick: Processed bread, processed jam, processed peanuts. Too soft, no crunch.
Sydney: I also enjoy Uncrustables. Please like me still.
Barry: Maybe the most satisfying four bites of food there is.
Should be less than $10. Requires lots of napkins. Maybe some mozzarella melted on there.
Overall score: 6.5
Alex: If even Subway can make a half-passable version of a meatball sub, you know the sandwich must have something going on.
Helen: 6. I eat these in the dark, alone, in sweatpants.
Question: Aside from the legendary Philippe's in LA, where the fuck are people even getting decent French dip sandwiches anymore?
Overall score: 7
Brad: The Meat Hook has a suuuuuper solid French Dip. It's on a bun, so not sure it counts as a "French Dip," but it's pretty great.
Nick: The most interactive of the sandwiches. Like a salty version of milk and cookies.
Helen: YESSSS SLOPPY SANDWICHES.
Toasted white bread smeared with mayo; green leaf lettuce; mediocre, probably out-of-season tomatoes; chewy bacon, not too crispy.
Overall score: 7
Hilary: I do appreciate the balance of smokiness, sweetness, acidity, and creaminess here, but they've just never been terribly exciting to me.
Matt: 10. THE NE PLUS ULTRA OF SANDWICHES.
Sydney: BLTs are bullshit.
Farideh: [to Sydney] You are bullshit.
Barry: Generally a 5, but goes up to an 8 with thick-cut, good fucking bacon and amazing ripe tomatoes. Still has to be Hellman's mayo.
Helen: This feels like the sandwich that kids who grew up going to country clubs consume. But I like it.
REUBEN (a.k.a. "Pastrami on Rye" if you're kosher or whatever)
Preferably made by a Jewish person, but we'll give you the option of cheese or not.
Overall score: 7.5
Alex: There's no situation in which a Reuben is better than corned beef or pastrami. Still, who doesn't like cheese and Russian dressing?
Matt: WITH HELLA CARAWAY IN THE BREAD, YES.
Brad: No caraway in the bread. I'll take a good corned beef sandwich from a Detroit Jewish deli (where you get the world's best corned beef sandwiches) over a Reuben.
Nick: No need for cabbage and cheese in there. It's a Montreal smoked meat sandwich with slutty makeup on.
Barry: Agree with Nick. This is just a way to make shitty smoked meat taste better.
BACON, EGG, AND CHEESE
On a roll or bagel only. Should cost less than a fancy latte.
Overall score: 8
Alex: I'm pretty sure the ghost of Ed Koch will strangle you in your sleep if you say that you don't like BECs in a mirror three times.
Nick: Definitely a 9—destroyer of hangovers.
Helen: An 8. Hangover angel. If there's Jimmy Dean sausage inside it, it's extra special.
With all the meats and cheeses and shit.
Overall score: 8.5
Nick: 10. It's fucking perfect, bro.
On toasty, buttered white or sourdough bread, with American or Cheddar cheese, and was probably made by your mom.
Overall score: 8.75
Alex: Screw omelets—grilled cheese sandwiches are the true test for setting apart a great chef from the rest. Only an idiot wouldn't use both butter and mayo for a grilled cheese.
Hilary: My mom, being from Iowa, spreads the bread with mayo on both sides and it's delicious and she's perfect and this is the best sandwich. Love you, mom.
Barry: Voting a 9 on Hilary's mom's grilled cheese, not my mom's.
Helen: I'm lactose-intolerant but love these anyway.
Nick: Execution is everything.
This concludes our rankings of all important sandwiches in America. Thank you for your time and Happy National Sandwich Day.