“I don’t mean to rob you of your free will, Randi,” a friend said to me recently. “You can pick whatever type of bread you want to make me a sandwich. White, wheat, rye, sourdough—even ciabatta. I’m open to anything.”
Needless to say, he didn’t get a sandwich from me.
Ah, the perennial Sandwich Problem. Little did I know back in the olden days when I was a little girl that one of the complex issues I would come to face as I reached adulthood would be the web of half-joking confusion and prejudice surrounding one of the First World’s simplest and most unassuming menu items: the sandwich.
In theory, a sandwich is only (and I quote from what Abraham Lincoln once said was the most reliable resource available: the internet) “a food item commonly consisting of two or more slices of bread with one or more fillings between them.” In practice, however, through no seeming fault of its own, the sandwich has become a cause of strife, at times frustrating and offending both men and women depending on the stance taken. With all the tension surrounding the sandwich, it’s only a matter of time before somebody writes an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice—Sandwich Edition.
Common jokes on the issue vary from Why should women be paid to work at Subway? Isn’t that their civic duty?—on the male side, to Anytime I see a hot guy I think, “Man, I’d love to make his sandwiches.”—on the female side. But sometimes the situation is a bit more serious.
Let us examine the conditions.
For the most part, men who wish for female-made sandwiches tend to channel their attentions one of three ways:
1. “Woman, make me a sandwich.”
2. “Would you like to make my sandwiches?”[i]
3. “If I bought you ingredients, would you make me a sandwich?”[ii]
In turn, most women tend to react one of three ways:
1. “OH MY GOSH HOW DARE YOU INSULT ME THIS WAY. Go make your own sandwich, you misogynist beast.”
2. “Psh, sure, I’ll make my man a sandwich. But why would I make you a sandwich? You’re not my man.”[iii]
3. “Oh, absolutely. I will gladly make any man a sandwich. I believe it’s a woman’s place to respect men and make them sandwiches.”
This post does not presume to advocate which approach or response to the problem may be correct. There are enough angry and offensive written opinions online already, from both sides of the situation. (Because everybody knows that shouting and cursing at the other side is always the most logical way to win a rational argument.)
However, it is my concern that we are greatly, terribly, overwhelmingly missing the point.
Think about the sandwich in its innocent simplicity. Think about how incredibly disproportionate its seeming unimportance is with the magnitude of the conflict, the tension, the division surrounding it.
That, my friends, cannot be a coincidence.
As famously stated by Abraham Lincoln, “A house divided cannot stand.”[iv] Could it be that the simple sandwich is actually a tool in the hands of a powerful enemy who is even now plotting our destruction? Could there be a force hoping to divide us by sandwich just as Lincoln hoped to divide the Confederacy by capture of the Mississippi River in the early days of the Civil War?
Legend has it that the sandwich was created in 1762 when the 4th Earl of Sandwich demanded in the middle of the night that a piece of roast beef be put between two pieces of bread so that he could eat it while continuing to play a gambling card game without getting his fingers greasy.[v]
Let that sink in.
The Earl needed the brand new sandwich—which some say his cook invented to appease his vague demand for a snack he could eat while playing—to give him the strength to keep playing so that he could win and thereby assert his dominance over the other gentlemen against whom he was pitted in gambling battle.
The very existence of the sandwich is rooted in a spirit of warfare. Small wonder, then, that the sandwich has continued cutting its rift in unity through history to the present day, where it continues to be one of today’s most divisive and tense topics of debate. The only difference is that now the sandwich conflict is between men and women at large instead of between gamblers.
Here’s the scary part. Who was the cook who presented the Earl of Sandwich with the first sandwich in history? Nobody knows. The name is shrouded in secrecy, lost forever in accidental obscurity.
Or was it accidental? Could there have been something sinister happening in the kitchen that midnight over 250 years ago, that somebody would prefer to keep hidden? Somebody who cleverly planted the sandwich in our midst as a deliberate tool toward our division and subsequent ruin? Somebody who is even now waiting and watching as the sandwich festers among us?
With the facts in mind, I am forced to conclude that the sandwich is, and has only ever been, a deadly instrument of war. The implications of this conclusion are frightening.
I’m not the biggest proponent of conspiracy theories, but there’s nothing like a good sandwich to make me wonder about the Illuminati. Or the aliens. Or even the vampires. But I’m not implying the sandwich is a gamepiece of a deadly and possibly otherwordly conspiracy.
It’s just that the facts are implying that.
[i] This is basically a proposal. Proceed with caution.
[ii] This is the most complex approach, involving multiple considerations regarding friend zones, attraction levels, and social obligations. Proceed with caution.
[iii] This is commonly known as a rejection. Proceed with caution.
[iv] This Abraham Lincoln really did say in 1858.
[v] Though sources vary slightly, this also is the real history of the sandwich.