Eating a Sandwich Hurts My Brain

Today at lunch, I realized I might have a problem because it took me a ridiculous amount of time deciding how to eat my sandwich. It was nothing special, just your standard ham and swiss on white, but you’d think I was contemplating a war maneuver or something based on the thought I put into my strategy.

War Strategy


Yes, I have a sandwich-eating strategy. Doesn’t everybody?

First off, there’s the cut. When you slice your sandwich in half, do you make rectangles or triangles? I know I’m not the only one who has pondered this age-old question, because NPR weighed in a few years ago, as did Buzzfeed. If you aren’t inclined to follow the links, triangles are better, according to both articles. And I happen to agree, for a number of reasons. Triangles are more aesthetically pleasing than rectangles. You get a perfect little corner to hold onto, especially useful when you’re dipping your sandwich (think grilled cheese and tomato soup). Best of all, you get a longer crust-free zone in which to enjoy whatever tasty filling you’ve sandwiched between your bread. This is a mathematical fact: if you are using standard 4″ square slices of bread and cut them in half, you end up with 8″ of crustless surface area. But cut them on the diagonal, and you end up with nearly 11″ of crust-free bread. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve got a sandwich filled with something delicious, like a nice thinly-sliced medium-rare deli roast beef with havarti cheese, that extra 3″ of barrier-free surface area is like heaven. No doubt about it: diagonal cuts rule!5685822_f260

Then there’s the layering technique. Cheese always has to go on top of the mayonnaise, otherwise you end up with two sides of the sandwich that can potentially stick to the roof of your mouth. Mustard can go on either side, as it does not produce the same glue-like effect as mayo. Pickles should be added at the last minute, otherwise they make the bread too soggy. And for god’s sake, don’t put tomatoes on until you’re ready to eat the sandwich, either! Refrigeration kills their taste. Lettuce is usually okay, but I sometimes place it between the meat and bread to prevent unnecessary moisture absorption.

As for packaging, I prefer Saran Wrap (or generic plastic wrap), because sandwich-sized Ziploc bags are not sandwich-friendly, despite their name. They are too constricting. I will make an exception for PB&J, since a peanut butter and jelly sandwich should never be thick to begin with.

With all the thought I put into making a sandwich, you’d think that eating it would be the easy part. But, noooo. I mean, it’s obvious where to begin: with a diagonal cut, you bite off each corner until you end up with a house-shaped sandwich. Then you devour the roof, saving the main living area for last. All of that is basic. But today, I found myself staring at my sandwich and wondering, which side do I eat first?!

Surprisingly, this thought had never crossed my mind before. And for several minutes, I was stumped. I had sliced it so that one half contained the smooth, curved portion of crust found along the top of the loaf. The other half was all perfectly linear crust. There I was, debating the merits of which half of my sandwich to eat first as precious minutes of my lunch hour ticked by. Finally, after expending far too much mental energy on this dilemma, I chose sides. Yeah, pun intended.


I saved the half with the curvy, smooth crust for last. I’ve grown fond of that particular crusty bite, I guess, and wanted to end my sandwich eating experience on a high note.

I suppose I could have cut the crust off and spared myself such an agonizing decision, but come on…I’m not 4 years old!

Does anybody else spend as much time deliberating how to eat a sandwich, or am I going insane?


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

17 thoughts on “Eating a Sandwich Hurts My Brain

  1. To be honest, I don’t really eat many sandwiches other than a Panini from Panera Bread, which I don’t even know if that’s considered a sandwich. But when I do eat a regular sandwich, I cut it in rectangles, except when I eat a club sandwich. To me, a club sandwich (which is my FAVORITE sandwich) must ALWAYS be cut in triangles and use toothpicks to keep them together.

    I have to say that the peanut butter sandwich you made in the picture looks faaaaaabulous!


    1. I’d love to take credit for the PB&J sandwich pictured above, but that one came off the internet. The ham is all mine, though! Good point about the toothpicks, Ron. They’re essential for certain types of sandwiches. Season’s eatings!


  2. The only sandwich I ever eat is a BLT and yes, it must be triangles! I will occasionally make a big sub for the family, but that’s on a loaf of French bread, which is a whole other set of issues!


  3. Oh my goodness I cannot believe how long this post about eating a sandwich was! If I am eating a sandwich it is because I dont have a lot of time so I am certainly not debating ANYTHING. Just slapping it together and devouring it.


  4. Hell, yeah, of course I spend that much time contemplating how to eat a sandwich! Doesn’t every one? I mean who wouldn’t and what’s wrong with them if they don’t?

    Hilarious post, Mark! In short, I’m on your side!

    I’m trying to get my butt back in the saddle. I did manage to post something a month ago, but have been busy teaching workshops, looking at self-hosting my blog and writing my memoir (yes, I’ve been doing that), but I will make an effort to get something new out this week, including photos of our new home.

    Sorry to have been so absent of late. Hope you and Tara are well!

    Hugs from Ecuador,


    1. Whew! Glad I’m not the only insane one…err, sandwich lover dedicated to the craft of proper presentation and consumption. Thanks for validating me, Kathy! Sure do miss you around here, but I know how busy you and Sara have been. I just view a comment from you as an unexpected treat these days! But by all means, if you can crank out a post soon, DO IT! DO IT!



  5. It is certainly refreshing for me to see that despite the milieu of today’s crushing technopolis there is another person that pays attention to the important daily matters of meaningful life.


  6. Maybe that’s why I don’t often make sandwiches. I’m more prone to buy crackers, cheese, hummus and veggie sticks and then just have a grown up version of what is basically a lunchable. LOL


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