Does a sandwich really need to be made with bread?

By Mike Pomranz
November 01, 2018
iuliia_n/Getty Images

The definition of a sandwich is under attack! At least from advertisers. This morning, Oscar Mayer announced it was taking the official stance that a hot dog is a sandwich and challenged Americans to convince them otherwise. Now, breakfast sandwich purveyor Jimmy Dean has announced it wants to push the limits of a sandwich a step further. The brand has launched a Change.org petition sent to Merriam-Webster requesting a formal change to the dictionary definition of the word.

Of course, as a company who sells a lot of sandwiches (albeit “breakfast” sandwiches), Jimmy Dean isn’t looking to destroy the sandwich; instead, this campaign is about equality… equality for sandwiches without bread. In support of the brand’s new Delights Egg’wich — described as a “breadless breakfast sandwich made with savory meats and cheeses sandwiched between two real egg frittatas” — Jimmy Dean is requesting that Merriam-Webster drop the “slices of bread” phrasing from its definition.

“More than one in three Americans are vowing to eat less bread in the new year. In fact, half of Americans have eaten a breadless sandwich,” the petition states, citing Jimmy Dean’s own research. “Shouldn’t the dictionary evolve with the people?” The brand goes on to cite things like substituting lettuce or Portobello mushrooms for bread as other examples of breadless sandwiches.

So what would Jimmy Dean prefer? “Please join us in calling on Merriam-Webster to change the definition of a sandwich, updating it to reflect that a sandwich simply contains: two or more layers of delicious food, having more delicious food filled in between,” the petition states. (Uh, but what about all those crappy sandwiches out there? This new definition seems a bit unfair to them!)

In Merriam-Webster’s defense, only the first part of its definition specifically contains the idea of bread. The second part is simply, “something resembling a sandwich.” By that wording, a breadless sandwich is still very much a “sandwich.” In fact, it’s so loose, almost anything could be a sandwich. And yet, Jimmy Dean doesn’t seem to pick up on the irony that they themselves chose to call their new product an “Egg’wich.” But hey, don’t let the truth come in the way of a good marketing campaign!

Meanwhile, here’s another bit of irony: Both Oscar Mayer’s and Jimmy Dean’s sandwich challenging campaigns are tied to this Saturday’s National Sandwich Day — a day meant to honor the sandwich! Sounds like the sandwich may want to consider returning its day back to the calendar and just try laying low for a bit.

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