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The Mathematics of Sandwiches

Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that there are few things I value as much and yearn for as deeply as a really good sandwich. But as dedicated as I thought I was to the humble-yet-oh-so-delicious meal, there are some people who take it a step further and delve straight into the mathematics behind a good sandwich.

We all know a good sandwich when we taste it, but it’s hard to exactly articulate what makes a sandwich so very good. Having delicious ingredients is important  – personally, I go a little wild for avocado on a sandwich, but that might not work for you. Good quality ingredients are key, too ““ bread can really make or break the sandwich. But sandwich-aficionados have decided to get deep and take a peek at the proportions.

The proportions are seriously crucial. Who among us hasn’t sat down to a seemingly delicious sandwich, only to realize that the bread was too thick or there was enough lettuce to feed a village of rabbits? The crushing disappointment, the experience of a sandwich deferred, can be prevented through careful application of appropriate sandwich proportions.

Fortunately, others take proportions seriously, too. Geoff Nute and other researchers at Bristol University in the UK studied how much mayo or pickles or heck even cheese should be put on a sandwich. Their equation can be found in the link, and it takes sandwich making from pure instinct to a finely-tuned art.  Ed Levine at Serious Eats made a similar formula for the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich (ratio found at the link), and it’s only a matter of time before every sandwich is placed in such a precise, mathematical framework. OK, maybe not, but the application of mathematics in the quest for tastiness is something I can definitely get behind.

Who knew math could be so delicious? What are your favorite sandwiches? Do you have any ingredient ratios (bread to cheese, tomatoes to mayo, etc) that guide your sandwich making? Any tips?

One reply on “The Mathematics of Sandwiches”

I’m just glad to know someone is finally giving sandwich-making the serious treatment it deserves!