In search of the definitive sandwich
S the story goes, the sandwich was invented in 1762 by John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich. He was playing cards, cribbage to be exact, at the Shakespeare Tavern in London and couldn’t tear himself away to eat.
So he ordered his valet to bring him some sliced beef between two slices of bread. The bread would keep his hands from getting greasy and, in turn, making the cards slimy.
That’s how the sandwich got its name — from a considerate gambling junkie.
Notice that the earl specifically asked for bread. He didn’t ask for two pork roasts with a duck in the middle.
Which brings us the Double Down, the new “sandwich” from KFC that boasts bacon and cheese and special sauce tucked between two hunks of fried chicken.
In one of the 10,000 commercials KFC is running for the Double Down, an excited fastfood fan practically squeals, “Now that’s a sandwich!”
I’m thinking, no way that’s a sandwich. That’s just a big pile of chicken and cheese and bacon and sauce. Sure it’s a low-carb fantasy, but it’s so messy, KFC has to supply a cardboard holder, or it’d slip out of your hands, and you’d have some explaining to do to your dry cleaner.
Or maybe KFC is right. It is a sandwich, and “there’s so much chicken, there isn’t any room for bread.” They pay big money on Madison Avenue for logic like that.
What’s your definition of a sandwich? To me, and I’m guessing most, a sandwich is something — from peanut butter and jelly at home to a mountain of hot pastrami at Katz’s (Never Kloses) to a single slice of bologna in the school cafeteria — tucked between two slices of bread. Or a bagel. Or taco. Or pita. Can you toast that, please?
But is an ice-cream sandwich … a sandwich? What about Oreo sandwich cookies?
Is a veggie burger a burger? That’s an easy one. No. It’s an abomination. I ate one, once. I still get the willies thinking about it.
Paul McCartney tells a story about the Beatles’ early days. Their van didn’t have a heater, and Liverpool and the north of England can be incredibly cold in winter. So the Beatles would lie one on top of the other in the back of the van to stay warm. McCartney called it “a Beatles sandwich.”
Burger King offers a Quadruple Whopper … but John, George, Paul and Ringo?
I am forever dealing with fast-food poetic license. Last year, Arby’s came out with a Roast-burger. It wasn’t a burger. By burger, I mean a sandwich with a ground-beef patty. It was merely the same old Arby’s roast beef sandwich with traditional burger toppings, like lettuce and tomato and pickles.
I didn’t quibble in my Drive-Thru Gourmet review. Like Hyman Roth says in Godfather II, “This is the business we’ve chosen.”
Red Robin has a Pot Roast Burger. Same thing. It’s a pot roast sandwich, hardly a burger.
Papa John’s has a dessert pizza with cinnamon and vanilla icing. Apparently anything round qualifies as a pizza now. Except when you flip it over. Then it’s a calzone. Baskin-Robbin sells turtle ice cream. Let’s hope not. I play tennis with a pretty
smart guy. I asked him, “What is a sandwich?” After a little back and forth, he finally surmised, “when you have something in the middle of two things that are the same.” OK, Florida is a sandwich. So if KFC wants to call the Double Down a sandwich, so what? But they’re wrong. Up till now, Zilch, the sugarfree, carb-free, fat-free margarita mix made in Houston, was only available in single packets — good for one strong drink.
Now the magic margarita mix comes in a package that makes a gallon. The more the merrier.
Zilch is available at most Spec’s, Richard’s and Ralston liquor stores.
SANDWICH OR JUST MEAT AND CHEESE?: KFC’S new Double Down sandwich is made of two chicken filets with bacon and melted Monterey jack and pepper jack cheese and a zesty sauce in the center.