Category Archives: The American Sandwich Series

We spent too much time writing about sandwiches, just so you could know EVERY kind there is.

Lobster Rolls: America’s Most Expensive Sandwich That’s Worth Every Penny

“Oh, this is so good.  Wait, what’s that?  Twenty three dollars?  Son of a bitch…eh, still worth it.”

~Lobster Roll Purchaser

lobster roll

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again—few creatures of the sea are more American than lobsters.  They’re ageless monsters that turn red when we boil them alive, at which point we pay inordinate amounts of money to dunk them in melted butter while wearing a bib at a fancy dinner.  The fact that lobsters used to be considered peasant food, to the point that 17th century indentured servants insisted that it was inhumane to be fed lobster more than twice a week, only make its current decadent reputation more American.

Admittedly, much of the reason why the first Americans to encounter the lobster assumed it was only fit for bait and fertilizer stems from its “oh my God, it’s a monster, KILL IT WITH FIRE” appearance, as well as the fact that we used to primarily canned lobster meat to preserve it because we sometimes cannot be trusted with nice things.  Now, by the 20th century we realized lobster actually “tastes delicious” and “should probably cost more money” so it began to be treated as such, with “ordering a lobster in order to get the most expensive thing on the menu” being a worn out entertainment trope for quite some time by now.

Now, since we live in America, we naturally have to take expensive and gaudy ingredients and transform them into dishes that are typically served on paper plates with plastic utensils, and that’s exactly what we’ve done with lobster.  While we have plenty of “cheap foods made expensive by adding lobster meat” dishes, from lobster mac and cheese to lobster bisque, one of the most iconic, and most satisfying, American preparation of lobster can be summed up in two simple words.

Lobster.  Roll.

Lobster meat in a hot dog bun that costs way more money than you feel comfortable shelling out for a lunch item that’ll inevitably have half the meat fall out as you eat it, but manages to be delicious enough that you’ll still pay for it, yes,  lobster rolls are an American delicacy, despite every outward appearance trying to tell you otherwise.  Lobster rolls are sneakily classy, just like America.  Lobster rolls are America.  And that’s why we’re devoting this fun fact to…

Lobster Rolls: America’s Most Expensive Sandwich That’s Worth Every Penny

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The American History Of The Reuben Sandwich

“There’s no reason why this should be as good as it is…well, no, you’re right, corned beef.  Right, that, that helps a lot.”

~Reuben Scientists  (shut up, they exist)

 reuben sandwich

When we undertook the foolhardy-in-retrospect project of listing every regional submarine-style sandwich in America, we were greeted by a lot of feedback.  Mainly, “What about the sandwiches that aren’t shaped like dicks?  What about those sandwiches.”  Of course, if we had expanded our criteria to include all sandwiches in America, we’d all be dead, having emotionally snapped and rented a bus to drive our whole staff into the ocean somewhere between writing up the dagwood sandwich and the Limburger sandwich.  Our families wouldn’t have even shown up at the funerals, so worried that the corpses would spring back to life to tell them to spend twenty minutes complaining that the Jibarito isn’t nearly well-known enough to warrant its own Wikipedia page.  Ultimately, the decision to limit the sandwiches in our regional sandwiches articles was the right one, both for the marriages of our staff as well as for our rapidly depleted alcohol supply, but it did leave us feeling a little hollow.  What was the point in tearing out our hair to scrap together a few sentences on how people who call sandwiches “sarneys” are terrible people who should pay for what they have done, if we don’t get to reward ourselves by looking at pictures of delicious non-elongated sandwiches.  Sandwiches that we love, that we crave, that make our lives better.

Sandwiches like the Reuben.

The Reuben is either your favorite sandwich, or the sandwich you always forget about until you see someone order a Reuben and say, “Goddamn, it’s been a while since I’ve had a Reuben, I’ll take one too, now that you mention it.”  Everyone appreciates it, even though most of us probably think that the Reuben has foreign, possibly European, origins.  It’s not an unfair assumption.  After all, this is a toasted rye bread sandwich that’s filled with ingredients that are considered Jewish or Irish (corned beef), Swiss (cheese), Russian (dressing), or German (sauerkraut).  Of course, the very multicultural aspect of the Reuben itself should be a clear indicator that it has American origins, though the simple fact that it’s delicious and savory and way more unhealthy than even your worst assumptions (yes, yes, all the saturated fats, all of them into the churning maw) should be enough of a clue as far as its Americanness goes.  And we’re going to let you in on the American history of this cultural hodgepodge of cured meat, fermented cabbage, and mayonnaise haphazardly mixed with ketchup.  Not because the Reuben is the sandwich you need, but because it’s the sandwich you deserve.

The American History Of The Reuben Sandwich

 reuben

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The Regional Italian and Submarine Sandwiches of America: The South

“New Orleans, please, guide us back into the welcoming arms of sandwiches that actually exist and aren’t goddamn sarneys.”

~Recently Adopted AFFotD Credo

po boy

Throughout the course of about 9,000 word and 21 sandwiches (so far) we’ve learned a lot about the diversity of America’s lunches.  In trying to discover every type of submarine sandwich, or sandwich on a long roll that can somewhat remotely resemble a sub, we’ve lusted after the Philly cheesesteak, we’ve saluted the simplicity of the sub or hoagie or not hero because we arbitrarily decided that we hated New York’s reason for naming it a hero.  We’ve existentially pondered the creation of the French dip, and we’ve lost most of our collective minds at all the goddamn sandwiches that seem to have been named by like, the only three fucking people that use that particular term to describe sandwiches.  Tunnels?  Who calls their sandwich tunnels, huh?  That’s stupid, they’re stupid, and they should at least post a blog or something about who first started calling them tunnels so our staff can finally have a peaceful night of sleep.  Now, we just toss and turn.  “But what the fuck is a bomber?  What the fuck is a bomber.”

We’re tired.  We’re hungover.  We haven’t shaved for days.  But hey, we have a lot of delicious southern long roll sandwiches to talk about, and practically all of them exist!  Yay for that!

The Regional Italian and Submarine Sandwiches of America: The South

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The Regional Italian and Submarine Sandwiches of America: Midwest and West Coast

“We just wanted to write about sub sandwiches.  That’s safe, right?  Delicious, universally loved sub sandwiches.  Then the madness came.  Then the darkness fell.  Then came the Sarney.”

~Found Footage From the Ruins of the Building That Once Housed AFFotD’s Main Office

iitalian sammich

When we started this journey, we were happy.  We were unified.  We were just sitting around the writer’s table, adding whiskey to our coffee (office culture dictates that you can’t drink hard unmixed hard alcohol until at least eleven in the morning), laughing, loving.  Living.  Then, in walked Johnny Roosevelt, our Editor-in-Chief and winner of 2013’s “drunkest at our Christmas party” award.

“Ladies.  Gentlemen.  Ghosts of the cool Presidents that would have been considered alcoholics in today’s society.  We haven’t really talked about sandwiches much, have we?”

And hell followed.

It seemed simple enough.  We would just write about all the sandwiches we could think of that are served in long rolls.  Basically, variation of submarine and Italian sandwiches, a cornerstone of our culture.  We started with the East Coast to cover subs and Italians, and followed it up with Pennsylvania sandwiches so we could write about hoagies and cheesesteaks.  We didn’t need to get into dagwood territory, because writing about various sliced bread sandwiches would easily creep into the mundane, and also fuck Dagwood Bumstead.

Then the voices came.

“Tunnels.  Bombers.  Torpedoes.  Barb fucking Mills.  Try as you might, you will not find them.  They only exist in name to haunt you.  Your charge is futile.  Your destiny is pointless.”

Anyway, here are some motherfucking sandwiches from the motherfucking Midwest and West Coast and we guarantee we’ll come across another non-existent sandwich and we will lose our motherfucking minds.

The Regional Italian and Submarine Sandwiches of America: Midwest and West Coast

regional sandwich

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The Regional Italian and Submarine Sandwiches of America: Pennsylvania

“Huh, so apparently there IS such a thing as eating too many sandwiches…”

~AFFotD Editor-in-Chief, Johnny Roosevelt, shortly before getting his stomach pumped

big old sandwich

As mentioned in our previous post, the simple concept of “a sandwich on a long roll of bread stuffed with cold cuts and condiments” has expanded well beyond our wildest dreams.  While many of these variations are all words for the same thing (the submarine begat the hero begat the grinder begat pointless regional squabbles about lexicon and so forth) these linguistic shifts have also helped create entirely new sandwiches made to be stuffed into submarine or Italian bread and embraced as a regional dish so fervently that even New Yorkers sometimes have to step in and go, “Woah, easy there,  Philadelphia, we get you invented it, but people are allowed to add different things to a fucking cheesesteak.”

Ha, just kidding, they’d never say that, they’re too busy trying to pretend they make the nation’s best hot dogs because…what, they’re sold in carts?  Because it’s easy to go to a cart and have someone scoop out a three day old frank and top it with sauerkraut and mustard and that somehow makes your hot dog “supreme” to, say, every other type of hot dog that at least tries?  Get off your fucking high horse, goddamn you.

Okay, sorry, back on track.  Anyway, for whatever reason, the state of Pennsylvania accounts for like, 40% of all the sandwiches on rolls of the entire East Coast, so we decided to give them their own section in our series on…

The Regional Italian and Submarine Sandwiches of America:  Pennsylvania

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The Regional Italian and Submarine Sandwiches of America: New England and New York

“Subway—it’s..it’s fine. I mean, it’s Subway.  It was open.”

~Rejected slogan for Subway

sub sammich

For nearly a century, the Americanized Italian sandwich has played a pivotal role in filling our bellies efficiently and deliciously.  Cold cuts, cheese, lettuce, onion, and tomato, all shoved into a sliced loaf of Italian bread and drizzled with oil and seasoning, has long been the default, “I don’t know what I feel like for lunch, eh, I’ll just get a sandwich” lunch choice for generations of workers.

Widely known as the Submarine Sandwich, it goes by about 17 different names in different regions throughout America, with dozens of additional variants from people who want hot sandwiches or beef doused in it’s own juices in elongated sandwich form.  While many long roll sandwiches end to differ in name only (subs, meet hoagies, you are the same), others are radically different and even manage the eschew cold cuts entirely, but all are delicious and American.  So instead of awkwardly stumbling through the history of the “submarine, or, uh, grinder, or, uh…” sandwich, we’re going to look into each type of this classic meat delivery system in the hopes that, that by showing our differences, we can bring our nation together.  By spending some 11,000 words talking about sandwiches that are shoved into Italian bread or rolls over the course of four articles.  We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, over 25 types of sandwiches total, but first, let’s start from the beginning.

The Regional Italian and Submarine Sandwiches of America:  New England and New York

sangwitch

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