Thursday, 3 February 2011

Sandwich top trumps

Who likes sandwiches?

That's right we all do, because they're great. Simple, yet complex, satisfying and beautiful, the humble sanger. Even veggies are partial to a sandwich.

I do not hide my love for a sandwich. I think that most meals can be made better by slapping them in bread. You can even go as far as having a roast in a sandwich, and I can confirm that although it gives you jaw ache, this is an epic sandwich.

Full Roast Sandwich

Given the plethora of fillings and types available I've always wondered what the best sandwich is. I'm not going to attempt to answer that here, but this debate sparked an idea....sandwich top trumps. Surely there's a gap in the market?

I decided to enlist the help of a friend, Steve for those that know him, and proceeded to build on the idea. What we found was that coming up with a deck was not as easy as it sounds.

Did you know that the average deck of top trumps is only 30 cards? I bet you didn't, who would? Now think about all those different sandwiches, and not just the easy ones, think variation as well, just look at Chicken for example. You've got & Bacon, & Stuffing, Salad, plus with or without mayo. How many would make it in when you've only got 30 to play with?

These dilemmas tore at Steve and myself and so we had to set some ground rules. The only sandwiches to include would be the purest version of each. So instead of having Beef & Mustard, and Beef & Horseradish, only mustard would make it through. It's a tough call but in the world of Top Trumps you have to be ruthless.

So now we had this set we had to decide how many of each type of sandwich, so we went for a 10:10:10 split. We'd have 10 meat sandwiches, 10 seafood, and 10 veggie. When you boil it down to this that's not many to pick from.

An early prototype-

Here's our original list of sandwiches:

and what we cut them down to:

Now I know there's some controversial choices in here, and I know there's some big fillings that have been dismissed, but none of the decisions were taken lightly.

Ploughmans- a tough one to leave out, but based on it's popularity these days it had to go. Plus it can fall under the variation category for 'cheese'.

Corned Beef- a favourite of mine, but didn't cut mustard as once again its sadly heading towards the history books.

BLT- it's my game and I fucking hate tomato. Get that filth of my bacon.

Now that we've picked our sandwiches there's another tricky decision, what stats apply? At this point we started discussing the top and bottom trump. Everyone knows that the top trump has one weakness and the bottom trump only has one marginal strength. We found that naturally the cream came to the top when applying the stats we'd decided upon. It was interesting that, in something we thought would have to be decided beforehand, the top and bottom trump generated itself organically. Who would have thought trumps could be so dynamic?

Digression aside here's the original list of stats-

and what we decided made the cut-

Hangover curability- how good is the given sandwich at pulling you from the pit of your own doing, and making you feel half normal again?

Speed (prep time)- for this one we came up with our measure, one which I'm quite proud of. Sandwiches Per Hour, or SPH, is the measure of how many sandwiches you could make, not eat, in an hour.

Respectability (Kudos)- do people eye your sandwich with envy? Or do people turn their nose up at your meagre plastic ham on limp white bread effort? This is a measure of how much reverence your sandwich creates.

Diversity (Variations)- this helped cover some of the more high profile filling omissions. This valued the number of different twists you could make on a sandwich.

Satisfaction (hunger fulfilment)- a key one. Did it do the job, or do you need another round?

Thickness (filling:bread ratio)- another important one. Who want's a doorstep that's all bread? Likewise you don't want the bread falling apart.

Travelling (was travelability)-  you put it in a lunch box and what happens? No one likes a sandwich that's wonkier than Janet Street Porters face. 

Simplicity- a key factor to your choice of sandwich should you be making it. How easy is it to make with the minimum of fuss, and more importantly washing up.

Est. Cost- not just if you were buying it from the shop, but the cost of components outside of bread if you had to make it yourself.

Expectation- you've made it, you're looking at it, does it fill you with wonder? Are you almost reluctant to eat it because of it's majesty? Did it live up to this hype?

Again some big decisions had to be made as we only gave ourselves 10 fields to play with. We thought the above covered a lot of bases, however there were some close calls-

Single-handedness- can you eat the sanger with one hand? Is the balance right that don't lose filling should you need to eat on the go.

Toastability- whack it in a toaster and what happens? Exactly.

Depth of history- did the sandwich have an impact on important historical events? Spam would have us believe they won the war, for example.

At this point the project kind of stopped. We were short of getting the working prototypes ready. However we're not far off. I'd like to say that you'll be able to buy a deck as an unconsidered stocking gift in time for Christmas, but who knows.

Just as a teaser here's what I think will be top and bottom trump, and more importantly why-

Top Trump: Breakfast butty

The kudos, diversity, satisfaction, hangover-ability, thickness, and expectation all weigh very high for this sandwich and so it rightly tops the tree.

Bottom Trump: Cucumber sandwich

I know there's tradition, and some would say that it's refreshing. Well I say get fucked. I'd rather have plain bread.

So what do you think? Agree with me, or am i well off the mark? As usual comments are welcomed....


  1. The cucumber sandwich is definately a good contender for the bottom of the pile, I agree with certain aspects of the breakfast butty although I believe ploughmans is a mega sandwich aswell as BLT. Tomato is fundimental in the construction of these sandwiches, you may have overlooked a tomato loving public.

  2. I appreciate that people out there like tomato. Despite irrationally hatred of this fruit wannabe these sandwiches were left out as I felt cheese covered the ploughmans, and bacon covered the BLT.

    It's why the 'Diversity' stat was included. We simply couldn't keep all the classics and felt an even spread between meat, veggie, and fish was required.

    On a personal note tomato sucks arse.

  3. Good list, I'm largely in agreement. Certainly a breakfast butty is amongst the finest creations of the modern day sandwich era.

    The envious eyes of some of the women in my office that burn into me when i'm tucking in one on a Friday morn informs me of its pure awesomeness. Plus it reminds them how shit Ryvita really is.

    I'm most definitely in agreement that cucumber is at the bottom of the pile. Pure filth in my opinion! Although, mixed with red salmon and a bit of salad cream it is transformed into a snack for the ages.

    I also most definitely concur that Tomatoes should be outlawed. I don't give a rat's ass how much of a sandwich regular they may be, their slime contimates all food stuff around them and as such, should be banned. It's the sandwich equivalent of puuting a ginger biscuit in with a nice pack of custard creams.

    On a final note, it may not be eligible for your list, but i'm quite taken with bagel that i've started making over the last couple of years. I found the original concotion in a little deli in Wolves, and found duty bound to adapt it myself. It's called the 'Spicy Flyer':


    1 plain bagel (non of this seeded, flavoured nonsense)
    Soft Cheese (full fat of course)
    Coleman's English Mustard
    1 slice Proscuitto Ham (ASDA)
    2/3 slices Milano Salami (ASDA)
    A bit of red pepper (sliced to suit)


    A few de-seeded strips of a red chilli (only for heat seekers - i nearly killed an ex-girlfriend by giving her this version)


    1) Halve your bagel
    2) Whack a good dollop of soft cheese on each half and spread accordingly
    3) Spread on a liberal amount of Mustard (too much overpowers the other flavours)
    4) Arrange the salami and proscuitto (fuck the hole - not literally)
    5) Sprinkle on your red peper and optional chilli
    6) Bagel done - consume now if peckish. If not:
    7) Stick it in the fridge for a bit
    8) Take it out a give it 10 mins to soften slightly
    9) Yam with a pack of cheese and onion walkers and a can of coke
    10) Belch repeatedly and re-experience the lovely flavours!


Follow the man blog on Twitter

The Man Blog
on Google+

Online Marketing