Is Pizza a Sandwich?
August 3, 2008 8:19 PM   Subscribe

Is pizza a sandwich?

I've been having a long debate with a close friend, and we're both somewhat obstinate, so the debate has gotten nowhere. My friend claims that pizza is in fact an unusual formulation of an open-faced sandwich; I disagree. Discuss.
posted by nonreflectiveobject to Food & Drink (68 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
All right thinking people would agree that pizza is not, in fact, a sandwich. batshitinsane tag appropriate.

Of course I don't consider open-face sandwiches to be true sandwiches either.
posted by Justinian at 8:24 PM on August 3, 2008


I'd sooner label an open-faced sandwich a type of mini pizza. Especially if it was an open-faced melt.
posted by robotot at 8:27 PM on August 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


What what what what, Pizza a sandwich? Pizza is pizza, it has it's own category. Yea I guess technically it's a toasted open face sandwich but who puts tomato sauce on their open face sandwich. And another thing, what kind of open face sandwich starts with raw dough, I've never ever in the history of making sandwiches baked my bread from scratch. Go give your friend an open faced knuckle sandwich and tell him never to disrespect the pizza again.
posted by BrnP84 at 8:27 PM on August 3, 2008 [12 favorites]


Dude, pizza's not a sandwich. It's a pizza.
posted by The Straightener at 8:28 PM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I do not think pizza is any type of sandwich. Pizza is pizza. I might consider a chicken roll a sandwich, fwiw.
posted by infinityjinx at 8:29 PM on August 3, 2008


Pizza ≠ Sandwich

QED
posted by ludwig_van at 8:32 PM on August 3, 2008


Emphatically no.

Next thing, your friend will be labeling apple pies sandwiches. Clearly, that road leads to madness.
posted by chrisamiller at 8:32 PM on August 3, 2008 [6 favorites]


Metatalk question?

But, actually, it is considered a "bread" as far as the Italian food culture is concerned.

Me, myself, when I come home after bar time, I cook a frozen pizza and just fold it over in half and eat the whole thing like that, which would make it a sandwich.

A sandwich has to have two pieces of bread (or more) in order to qualify as such. At least a top and bottom piece. An "open faced sandwich" is just a piece of toast with stuff on it, in my experience.

btw I worked at Zingermann's of Ann Arbor through college, which was ranked the third top deli in the US in 1993 by "Food" magazine.

A number 53 there (foscietta, mozzarella, pesto, and sun-dried tomatoes) could be ordered "sandwich style" (sliced open and stuffed) or "roma style" (everything just put on top.) Both were oven baked to melt the goodness together.

Your friend is wrong.
posted by peewinkle at 8:33 PM on August 3, 2008


A sandwich's bread is not cooked at the same time as its ingredients, as far as I'm concerned. Toasting doesn't count. I mean dough-into-bread cooking.
posted by Plug Dub In at 8:34 PM on August 3, 2008 [7 favorites]


The uncooked dough is the deciding factor. Sandwiches are very specifically made of cooked ingredients.

(Course, that means a Monte Cristo isn't a sandwich either, but then it isn't! It's a huge plate of awesome with a sandwich inside it.)
posted by darksasami at 8:34 PM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Your friend requires medication and careful supervision of a compassionate professional. Pizza is not an open face sandwich unless it's made, like, on an English muffin, in which case it ceases to be pizza in the first place.
posted by scody at 8:34 PM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I tend to agree that an open-faced sandwich is not a proper sandwich at all, either. For me, a sandwich is a foodstuff that is enveloped by bread on a minimum of two planes. He argues that the category includes any food on bread. And yes, he has argued (earlier today) that apple pie is a sandwich.
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 8:34 PM on August 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Think of it this way: is sandwich a pizza?
posted by ddaavviidd at 8:34 PM on August 3, 2008


If a sandwich is bread + other food on the bread, like your friend says, then a cupcake is also a sandwich, as is a regular cake and like toast and jam. What does your friend think about that?
posted by boy detective at 8:35 PM on August 3, 2008


BrnP84 has a good point about the dough. I can think of no sandwich where the ingredients are combined with raw dough and then cooked. Also, if pizza is a sandwich then just about anything that includes bread has to count, including soup in a bread bowl.
posted by thrako at 8:35 PM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


You may argue that a pizza is too big to be a sandwich because it can't be picked up. The counter-example is a 6-foot-long sub.
posted by smackfu at 8:36 PM on August 3, 2008


The soup in a bread bowl thing was a part of his argument, once. He's since recanted this. BTW, this argument has gone on for months.
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 8:36 PM on August 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


focausia*

(you know what I mean)
posted by peewinkle at 8:36 PM on August 3, 2008


Me, myself, when I come home after bar time, I cook a frozen pizza and just fold it over in half and eat the whole thing like that, which would make it a sandwich.

Yes! I love doing that, only we call it the pizza taco. Also, the Pizza burrito is nice (pizza rolled into a cylinder burrito shape) or the awesome mystery pizza (two pizzas stacked on top of eachother, cheese sides touching.)
posted by BrnP84 at 8:37 PM on August 3, 2008


I don't think it's a sandwich. I think it fits in the category of flatbread, which a lot of cultures have (pita, tortilla, naan...). Occasionally people top flatbreads with toppings, and get something like a pizza. But no, not a sandwich - bread with a topping isn't a sandwich. A sandwich has to have bread on the top and bottom of a filling, or surrounding the filling.

I could see calling a calzone a sandwich, for instance. Not a pizza, though.
posted by Miko at 8:42 PM on August 3, 2008


peewinkle has it—bread. I remember reading an old academic article about the pizza that described it as a form of focaccia, complete with citation.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:43 PM on August 3, 2008


NO! Stop this heresy now seriously or else the world will devolve to the point where not only is pizza a freaking sandwich but daiquiris are just more evolved waters. Sandwiches and pizza are both bread-based tasty meals. They are not one in the same. Did he not learn Venn diagrams in school?
posted by elisabethjw at 8:46 PM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is a pizza ever served with a pickle spear and chips? No! Clearly it cannot be a sandwich.

Your friends reasoning leads to bizarre results: a pancake with any topping is a sandwich; pretzels with mustard on top are sandwiches; a cobbler is an upside down sandwich; breaded fish! is a sandwhich; heck, if I take a bit of pastry dough put it on a plate and cover it with an entire, unsliced watermelon, I've just made a sandwich. But of course that is not a sandwich at all. So, by reductio ad absurdum his reasoning is clearly bad. QED, pizza is not a sandwhich.

Tell him to stop over simplifying things.
posted by oddman at 8:50 PM on August 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


Look, your friend could define a sandwich as "Anything I eat between Noon and 2pm" but it is not a useful definition to use with other people, as it will be very far from their definition of the term. If his definition is "Anything with a dough-based item on the bottom", he is again going to find his definition at odds with the vast majority of society. Apple pie, for fucks sake?

I think the requirement that the bread be cooked before other ingredients are added to it is a good one, as it allows open faced sandwiches, English muffin pizzas, and even Croque Monsieurs under the sandwich tent, while keeping pizza and most baked goods out. I guess some pies and tarts would qualify as sandwiches under this scheme, but they would be extreme outliers.

focaccia, peewinkle
posted by Rock Steady at 8:51 PM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


1. It is a testament to my idiocy that I can see myself in this kind of argument, and having it last for months.

2. It is also a testament to my idiocy that I remember a case that dealt with the closely related question as to whether a burrito was a sandwich. That case's reasoning applies here too, as do the dictionary definitions and USDA authority it cites. For a brief synopsis, see here.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:55 PM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


If a burrito is not a sandwich, I don't think a pizza could be.

Not to overstate the value of legal opinions, but you might be interested to know that this sort of inane bullshit pointless argument has in the past led to Real Financial Consequences.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 8:56 PM on August 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Please do not construe my comments about my own idiocy to apply to fantabulous timewaster.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:57 PM on August 3, 2008


I know this guy who runs a pizza joint in Naples, he could settle the matter once and for all.
(your friend would like his pizza, though he might not enjoy his - erm - conversational skills, 'cause he's got a bit of a short temper, you know)
posted by _dario at 9:00 PM on August 3, 2008


A sandwich must be made from two pieces of bread, at least in Massachusetts, as decided by a court of law.

Panera Bread had an exclusive contract to sell sandwiches in a mall in Worcester, MA. When Qdoba moved in to the mall in 2001, Panera claimed that burritos were sandwiches and that the presence of Qdoba violated their lease agreement. The case was tried in the Worcester Superior Court. Judge Jeffrey A. Locke's decision cited Webster's Dictionary, which defines a sandwich as having two slices of bread: "A sandwich is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos, and quesadillas, which are typically made with a single tortilla and stuffed with a choice filling of meat, rice, and beans," he wrote.

I think that this is sufficient evidence for you and your friend. If a burrito is not a sandwich, a pizza is also not a sandwich. A calzone, however, could be a different story.
posted by k8lin at 9:09 PM on August 3, 2008 [6 favorites]


fantabulous timewaster beat me to it. That's what I get for not previewing properly!
posted by k8lin at 9:11 PM on August 3, 2008


What is the basis for determining who is correct? Your friend is trying to make a logical argument on what seems to me to be an issue of language. Even if his logic was correct (which doesn't seem to be the consensus), the English language isn't very logical in these matters.

Something becomes correct in the English language when it becomes common usage. A pizza is a sandwich if many people use the word sandwich to describe a pizza.
posted by winston at 9:20 PM on August 3, 2008


pizza is not a sandwich, soldier. carry on.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 9:22 PM on August 3, 2008 [9 favorites]


If anything, pizza could be considered a cousin or variant of savory tarts, as it's a baked good with fillings/toppings. Punch your friend in the stomach for blaspheming pizza. The nation has enough problems without that kind of agitation. His only possible angle might be the Pazone, but that's still a baked good and is basically a calzone.
posted by Askr at 9:34 PM on August 3, 2008


Also, if pizza is a sandwich then just about anything that includes bread has to count, including soup in a bread bowl.

And that's as crazy as a soup sandwich.

Anything pastry based is not a sandwich, but a hybrid. See "Croissan'wich."
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:50 PM on August 3, 2008


Words are only useful insofar as they still have meaning. Your friend wanting to call anything with bread a sandwich would make the category of "sandwich" useless. No one gains anything by including pizza in that category, it just makes it nebulous and confusing. It's like saying anything with liquid in it is a drink; suddenly everything we eat is a drink.
posted by Nattie at 10:55 PM on August 3, 2008


Pizza is not a sandwich, it's a kind of fancy bread. Two pieces of pizza pressed against one another would be a pizza sandwich.
posted by The Monkey at 11:23 PM on August 3, 2008


What! Pizza is not a pie? My sensibilities have been shattered!
posted by Jenny is Crafty at 11:24 PM on August 3, 2008


Another point in favor of pizza not being a sandwich: pizza was invented before the sandwich. The restaurant Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba in Naples started producing pizza in its present form in 1738. The sandwich wasn't invented until 1762, and there's no evidence of one inspiring the other. I think this is an example of convergent evolution, all sorts of people throughout the ages have had the great idea of combining bread with a topping or filling.
posted by TungstenChef at 11:30 PM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Open sandwich = oxymoron.
posted by Tixylix at 12:29 AM on August 4, 2008


The sandwich was invented as a filling between two slices of bread. Hence a pizza, which comprises only one piece of bread, cannot be a sandwich. Ignore "open sandwiches" and "breadless sandwiches" as these are red herrings.
posted by skylar at 12:52 AM on August 4, 2008


Pizza is neither sandwich or bread. It is a pie.
posted by gjc at 5:50 AM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


And yes, he has argued (earlier today) that apple pie is a sandwich.

He should consider making up his own names for foodstuffs and using them instead of words that already have definitions.

No, pizza is not a sandwich.
posted by desuetude at 6:28 AM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


And yes, he has argued (earlier today) that apple pie is a sandwich.

Your friend is not interested in the definition of sandwiches, still less in the opinion of a random collection of your internet friends. Your friend is interested in yanking your chain. He'll go on doing it as long as you, for whatever reason, keep responding with attempts at reason. It's like Lucy and Charlie Brown and the football. If you enjoy the friendly bickering, by all means keep it up, but I don't see what you expect us to do about it. You knew what we'd say, and he knew what we'd say, and it's irrelevant.

To answer the question: no, a pizza is not a sandwich. Duh.
posted by languagehat at 6:32 AM on August 4, 2008 [6 favorites]


It is a pie.

American pizza might be, real Italian pizza definitely isn't.
posted by uncle harold at 6:40 AM on August 4, 2008


Have you guys seriously gone on for months without looking up the definition of "sandwich" yet?

New Oxford American Dictionary:
sandwich |ˈsanˌ(d)wi ch |
noun
an item of food consisting of two pieces of bread with meat, cheese, or other filling between them, eaten as a light meal : a ham sandwich.
• something that is constructed like or has the form of a sandwich.

ORIGIN mid 18th cent.: named after the 4th Earl of Sandwich (1718–92), an English nobleman said to have eaten food in this form so as not to leave the gaming table.
A pizza does not consist of two pieces of bread, is not constructed like a sandwich, and does not have the form of a sandwich. Q.E.D., it is not a sandwich.
posted by designbot at 6:59 AM on August 4, 2008


It is a pie.

American pizza might be, real Italian pizza definitely isn't.


Deep dish probably counts as pie or a casserole with crust but thin crust pizza is certainly a flatbread.
posted by mmascolino at 7:04 AM on August 4, 2008


An open-faced sandwich is not a sandwich, just like a dwarf planet is not a planet and a koala bear is not a bear. So even if pizza could be classified as an open-faced sandwich, as your friend claims, that still wouldn't make it a sandwich.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:05 AM on August 4, 2008


I am reminded of this exchange from Alice in Wonderland:
There's glory for you!'
'I don't know what you mean by "glory,"' Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'
'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument,"' Alice objected.
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'
I suppose egg rolls, spring rolls, pot stickers, sushi, brik, dumplings, pasties, kreplach, samosas, and anything else consisting of a starch surrounding a filling would be a "sandwich" in your friend's idiolect.

If he keeps that nonsense up though, I'd be tempted to offer him a knuckle sandwich. With extra horseradish.
posted by adamrice at 7:09 AM on August 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


Okay, now that we have the pizza is not sandwich thing out of the way you need a plan of attack.

Step one: fake a retreat. Give your friend the impression that you are starting to agree with him, that he might be able to convince you if he can just keep going with his side of the argument. Throw up some weak counter arguments that you know he won't even listen to like "pizza joints usually sell pizza and sandwiches and list them in different sections of the menus"

Step two: go a little odd. Start with something like "oh, I get it, if we think of a sandwich as a bread or grain based food item with flavoring extras then we should be able to get our deposit back on these pieces of paper they wrapped our hoggies in since beer is a sandwich, it comes in bottles and we get deposits back on those." This should warm him up for the following step.

Step three: go really insane on him. Anytime he says anything that you know he thinks is clever say "hum... yes just like how sex is a type of sandwich, I could not agree more."
posted by bdc34 at 7:53 AM on August 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


An open-faced sandwich is not a sandwich, just like a dwarf planet is not a planet and a koala bear is not a bear.

This is falling right into the friend's trap. It happens to be the right conclusion and analogy (putting aside the controversial dist. b/w dwarf planets and planets). Presumably he will say, however, that an open-faced sandwich is a sandwich, just like an extrasolar planet is a planet and a grizzly bear is a bear.

The only way out of this is to cite a dictionary definition, the legal authority that we've pointed out above, or to stop having this discussion. Or maybe ask him to produce a menu that has pizza listed under sandwiches . . . which, in the fullness of time, he may be able to do.

P.S. Do not, for the love of God, show him sandwich pizza.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:53 AM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is a pizza ever served with a pickle spear and chips? No! Clearly it cannot be a sandwich.

I find this to be a convincing argument.

Also, Miko -- a calzone is not a sandwich. It is a pizza singularity, the result of a pizza collapsing on itself. A pizzalarity, if you will.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:35 AM on August 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


Nthing a big no! A pizza pie is no more a sandwich than an apple pie is. Dough baked together with its filling/topping isn't a sandwich. The bread has to be baked separately first.
posted by Citrus at 9:41 AM on August 4, 2008


Nthing a big no! A pizza pie is no more a sandwich than an apple pie is. Dough baked together with its filling/topping isn't a sandwich. The bread has to be baked separately first.

See now? You can't engage in this kind of freelancing. You would just have qualified pizza made with a Di Paolo shell, which is wretched pizza but not any closer to being a sandwich.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 10:14 AM on August 4, 2008


"Pizza" existed hundreds of years before the sandwich. If the two were at all related, the open-faced sandwich would be a type of pizza.
posted by zennie at 10:38 AM on August 4, 2008


According to page 145 of the USDA Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book (pdf), (found via the aforementioned Boston burrito case), a sandwich (closed) "must contain at least 35% cooked meat and no more than 50% bread" and a sandwich (open) "must contain at least 50% cooked meat".
posted by mhum at 10:51 AM on August 4, 2008


"Pizza" existed hundreds of years before the sandwich. If the two were at all related, the open-faced sandwich would be a type of pizza.

Sandwiches existed many years before submarines. If the two were at all related, the nuclear submarine would be a form of sandwich.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 11:00 AM on August 4, 2008


According to page 145 of the USDA Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book (pdf), (found via the aforementioned Boston burrito case), a sandwich (closed) "must contain at least 35% cooked meat and no more than 50% bread" and a sandwich (open) "must contain at least 50% cooked meat".

Also, in Table 2 of 9 CFR 317 (Labeling, Marking Devices, and Containers), under the heading of Product Category, we find (emphasis mine):
Mixed dishes NOT measurable with a cup; \5\ e.g., burrito, egg roll, enchilada, pizza, pizza roll, quiche, all types of sandwiches, cracker and meat lunch type packages, gyro, stromboli, burger on a bun, frank on a bun, calzone, taco, pockets stuffed with meat, foldovers, stuffed vegetables with meat, shish kabobs, empanada.
Note that they specifically excluded pizza (and even pizza rolls) from "all types of sandwiches".

It is apparent that the US federal government does not believe that pizza is a form of sandwich.
posted by mhum at 11:04 AM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


And for once I agree with the feds. A pizza is not a sandwich. This is the most enraging thing I've heard all day!
Yes, we can eat pizza like a sandwich by folding it, and we can use already cooked bread to make a "pizza" by toasting it with some cheese on top. And we can put thin slices of pizza together on the center of a really large plate and drizzle truffle oil around the margins and call it a "galette of pizza" (or if there's only 3 slices we could call it a pizza sandwich).
But a pizza is a pizza and a sandwich a sandwich.


Oh, and an "open-faced sandwich" is still a sandwich, the way decaf is still coffee. And a plate of beans served over bread is an open-faced bean sandwich.
posted by Mngo at 1:41 PM on August 4, 2008


An open-faced sandwich is called such because it has something in common with a sandwich. Namely, it has the same ingredients one would expect in a sandwich except for the second slice of bread.

This property of being sandwich-like, however, is not transitive. In other words, you can't say that anything that has the property of being "open-face sandwich-like" is therefore a sandwich.

Another example: the LEAK Sandwich is so named because it also has a property in common with a sandwich: that of having one substance between two other substances that are identical to each other. Again, this designation is not transitive. An object can't reasonably be called a sandwich just because it contains polystyrene foam and aluminum.

If we follow your friend's logic, then everything in the universe is a sandwich:

An open-faced sandwich is a sandwich because it has the same ingredients as a sandwich, assembled identically except for a second slice of bread.

A pizza is a sandwich because it has the same general formation as an open-faced sandwich, that of a number of toppings on top of some sort of bread product.

A pizza farm is a sandwich because it has the same superficial shape as a pizza (which is a sandwich), that of being a round area separated into slices.

A farm in the sense of a place to grow food, then, is also a sandwich, because it shares a quality of the pizza farm (which is a sandwich), that of a place where produce is grown.

A server farm, then, is also a sandwich, because it shares a property in common with a farm (which is a sandwich), that of having rows of near-identical items which must be tended.

Keep following this and a server factory, and thus any factory whatsoever, and thus any place where people are employed, and thus any place where people gather, and thus the planet Earth, and thus any other planet, and thus any object that exists in the universe, is a sandwich.

So, to sum up. A thing that is like a sandwich can metaphorically be called a sandwich. A thing that is like a thing that is like a sandwich loses this connection. Pizza is not a freaking sandwich.
posted by lore at 2:27 PM on August 4, 2008 [12 favorites]


nonreflectiveobject - If you're still following this discussion, I'm curious. What does your friend give for arguments in favor of pizza being a sandwich? The dictionary definition points to him being wrong, the common usage of the terms by our local foodies contradicts him, and the historical record shows that pizza was developed prior to, and independently of the sandwich. Not to mention the fact that no one here can think of a sandwich that involves wrapping the filling in raw dough and then cooking. I can think of dozens of other, non-sandwich foods that are fillings wrapped in dough and then cooked though, ravioli, pyrogies, runzas, and beef Wellington to name a few. These are likely evolved from dumplings though, generally much earlier than the sandwich.
posted by TungstenChef at 3:02 PM on August 4, 2008


Keep following this and a server factory, and thus any factory whatsoever, and thus any place where people are employed, and thus any place where people gather, and thus the planet Earth, and thus any other planet, and thus any object that exists in the universe, is a sandwich

And . . .? Given that I grew up being told that the world was my oyster -- which I've come to doubt -- the notion that the universe is my sandwich isn't too far fetched. Sandwiches are, after all, more filling.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 3:08 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


The dough and the filling/topping are cooked at the same time. That makes it more than a flatbread.

The shape of the pie isn't important, it's the cooking method. Stuff cooked in dough is a pie.
posted by gjc at 5:42 PM on August 4, 2008


So two slices of pizza, placed cheese-to-cheese would be a sandwich.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:39 PM on August 4, 2008


No. That would be no table manners, but still not a sandwich.
posted by uncle harold at 9:34 PM on August 4, 2008


all of you and the Feds have nothing to say about the hateful "wrap"?

In the apple pie is a sandwich trope, did he argue that this is true because you can put cheese on it?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:57 PM on August 4, 2008


Calzones are sort of sandwiches.

Pizza? No. Of course, it took me a long time to admit that a hamburger was a sandwich, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 8:26 PM on August 5, 2008


The dough and the filling/topping are cooked at the same time. That makes it more than a flatbread.

Is a foccaccia a flatbread?

Is a cracker a flatbread?

Both can be baked with toppings on. I'll admit that a pizza is a flatbread with toppings - but a flatbread nonetheless.
posted by Miko at 8:38 PM on August 5, 2008


"How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg." (attributed to President Lincoln)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:29 PM on December 15, 2008


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