Welcome to The Takeout’s Debate Series. Today, we focus on the most vexing question to confound mankind since whether a hot dog is a sandwich. And that question is... (whoops, the headline already gave it away) what’s the best way to slice a sandwich?
Taking the straight-through-the-center argument is one Kate Bernot.
Arguing for the diagonal cut is the esteemed Gwen Ihnat.
Siding in favor of the X cut is Sir Kevin Pang, esquire.
The debate over sandwich shapes doesn’t keep me up at night because there is such a clear answer: A straight vertical slice through the middle is best.
The only serious contender to this is the diagonal slice. I have honestly no idea what Kevin is doing with his four-square, high-tea-finger-sandwich cuts over there. This is America, where we eat sandwiches in two halves. (I once met a person who didn’t slice his sandwiches at all. I assume he’s now in jail for flagrant stupidity.)
The problem with the diagonal slice, though, is that it leaves crumbly corners on the upper-left and upper-right sides of the sandwich, where the bread loaf’s top puffs out slightly. If you’re slicing diagonally, you’re dividing those already precarious corners in two, which increases the risk of a corner tear. The horror!
Furthermore!—please picture me as Martin Luther, nailing some sandwich treatises to a wooden door—a vertical cut creates two halves that preserve the original quadrilateral essence of the sandwich. If sandwiches were meant to be triangular, we’d have invented triangle bread. That’s my logic, and I’m sticking to it. [Kate Bernot]
I’m certain I’ve cut more sandwiches more than you two combined, what with two kids in grade school, and I’m telling you, diagonal slice is the way to go. I always ask the kids how they want their sandwich sliced for school, and this is always the preferred answer. I know that logically, this makes no sense, but as a kid, I preferred it as well, because it somehow seemed to offer more sandwich real estate.
A quick search online shows that we are far from the first to enter into this great debate about sandwich shapes. In 2009, NPR spoke to a design expert, who stated, “the diagonal cut exposes more of the interior of the sandwich, ‘and by exposing the interior, it engages more of your senses before you take the first bite.’” It also works out mathematically, says NPR.
Remember the pythagorean theorem (a2 + b2 = c2)? That diagonal slice gives you more inches of crustless surface. It’s also easier to eat, starting with the smaller corners and moving in from there. (I haven’t had a problem with the corner tear.)
Want more proof that I’m right? Picture your favorite grilled cheese or tuna sandwich from your favorite diner. Chances are, that sandwich comes to you in a triangle shape, cut on a single diagonal. And those people are sandwich professionals. Case closed. [Gwen Ihnat]
The X slice—two straight cuts from corner to opposite corner—builds on the diagonal slice but adds several key improvements. The most notable is that you’re replicating the textural pleasures of a pizza: The apex of the triangle is pure white bread, soft and sumptuous, no stale crust that interjects. Say you’re severely allergic to crusts: With both the straight and diagonal slice, you’re surrounded by crust on either two or three sides, meaning you must carefully navigate your bite-through locations. With the X slice, the crust is cleanly on one side only, ideal for those who prefer eating the soft interior crumb of their sandwiches.
A few other advantages: They’re compact finger sandwiches! You get four of ‘em! It is the preferred cut of a club sandwich, arguably the king of sandwiches. And for aesthetic reasons, the X slice allows you to line the four crust-sides into a square pattern, sandwich points pointed outward, which creates a convenient box receptacle for potato chips. The X slice is not only the most practical, it’s the classiest of the sandwich cuts. [Kevin Pang]
Commenters: Who won? Kate, Gwen, or Kevin? The two losers will not be paid this week.