British people use words that we don’t use here in the States: lorry, snogging, chuffed. They also have a brand of anchovy paste called “gentleman’s relish,” which is advertised for use on toast or sandwiches. It seems to be one of those Kleenex- or BandAid-like cases, in which a brand name comes to stand in for the whole category. And so, anchovy paste is sometimes referred to as gentleman’s relish on sandwiches. The term, though, caused a bit of a controversy for the Waitrose chain of grocery stores.
The Telegraph reports that a woman, who happens to be a government employee, tweeted a photo of a premade sandwich labeled “Gentleman’s Smoked Chicken Caesar Roll;” she tagged @EverydaySexism and captioned the photo: “I never knew sandwiches were gender specific. I’m female but thankfully Waitrose let me purchase this anyway.”
It’s clear to me that the gentlemanly portion of the sandwich’s name is a reference to a specific condiment, not a proclamation as to which gender may consume said sandwich. I hope I am sensitive to incidents of everyday sexism, which no doubt exist, but I confess this sandwich does not offend me. (Not even its smell bugs me, as I’m a pretty big fan of anchovies on pizza and Caesar salads and sandwiches.) I expended quite a bit of outrage at this Australian brewery’s beer name, so perhaps I am just all out of [well, you know] at this current moment.
But Waitrose will change the sandwich’s name anyway. A spokesperson for the grocer tells The Telegraph: “It’s never our intention to cause offense—we’re not dictating who should eat this sandwich—we hope anyone who tries it will love the distinctive flavors. However we are planning to change the name of the sandwich soon.”