The Swarthmore Sandwich Scandal

Photo Credit: Elena Lee

If you ask someone to define a sandwich, odds are they are going to say something along the lines of “two slices of bread with some sort of filling in between.” Oh, you can debate endlessly over the gray areas — is a hot dog a sandwich? — but I feel that this is a pretty stereotypical definition of a sandwich. Which is why I find the Kohlberg take-out sandwiches so incredibly perplexing. If you’ve ever ordered the almond butter and jelly sandwich or the vegan tempeh “BLT” (I guess “TLT,” technically), you know what I’m talking about. Someone, somewhere, has decided that these sandwiches need three entire slices of bread. 

If you’re having trouble visualizing this odd setup, let me outline the construction of the almond butter and jelly sandwich for you as an example. On the bottom, you have a (fairly large) slice of bread. Then, on top of that bread, a layer of almond butter and a layer of jam. Then, a second slice of bread. So far so good, right? Oh, but they didn’t stop there. On TOP of that second slice of bread is another layer of almond butter and another layer of jam. And then to cap off this monstrous creation, a third slice of bread. And there you have it: the most excessive, impractical sandwich known to humankind. It’s not just me; from an extremely scientific poll (i.e. asking several of my friends), almost the entire student body finds this extremely weird. 

Now, there’s nothing wrong with how these sandwiches taste. I myself am a fan of both the almond butter and jelly (AB&J?) and the TLT. But if you attempt to eat one of these towering constructions, dear reader, you will be sadly perplexed. The sheer height of the sandwich requires one to open one’s mouth at an extreme angle simply to take a bite, and the awkwardness of the bite means that one often spews crumbs and filling in every direction. 

Also, the ratio of bread to filling is not ideal with a middle slice of bread; although you would think that the ratio has decreased (three to two instead of two to one), your teeth are not accustomed to having the filling disrupted by bread, and thus, the overriding impression is of too much bread. I, along with multiple friends, have attempted to deconstruct the Kohlberg sandwich by removing the top slice of bread to create a more normal-sized two-slice sandwich. Unfortunately, doing so exposes whatever filling is stuck to the top surface of the middle slice of bread, and that filling will inevitably smear all over your hands and leave them incredibly sticky. Not to mention the fact that you are then left with an awkward single slice of bread that is devoid of filling except for the random dribs and drabs that stuck to it when you removed it. Guess what that third slice of bread could be used for? Half of another two-slice sandwich! By my calculation, that would be 50% more sandwiches, which would also solve the problem of Kohlberg always running out of sandwiches (even when you order ahead).

So, having given up on the deconstruction approach, you must simply settle down to contend with your tall sandwich. Yet, aside from the impracticalities of actually eating it, the sandwich is so filling that it requires a ravenous appetite indeed to consume it all in one sitting. On the one hand, I do sometimes appreciate having leftovers, and I admire the compassion of whoever is trying to make sure we all have adequate energy and nutrition to contend with our daily workload. At other times, however, I simply want to eat my lunch and be done with it; I don’t necessarily have room in my bag to carry around the (often quite bulky) sandwich container, and I am always afraid it will spring open in my backpack to scatter various jelly/mayonnaise/tempeh/tomato bits everywhere. 

There is simply no way around the fact that the TLT and AB&J Kohlberg sandwiches simply violate all known laws of sandwich-making. It’s odd because some of the sandwiches, such as the hummus and caprese varieties, have a completely normal two slices of bread. Clearly, there is some awareness of what constitutes a legal sandwich. I have no idea why this sanity departs when it comes to the TLT and AB&J species. To be clear, I am very grateful to the dining staff who lovingly construct these sandwiches; it is a lot of work and time, and I am sure that they insert that third slice of bread with the most benevolent of intentions. But for the love of all things sandwich, I am begging the powers that be to restrain themselves to only two slices of bread. It will make life at Swarthmore that much easier to navigate, and we students shall all be eternally grateful.     

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