What Is California's Sandwich? The Fast Food Burger Takes On the Veggie Sandwich What Is California's Sandwich? The Fast Food Burger Takes On the Veggie Sandwich
The GOOD Life

What Is California's Sandwich? The Fast Food Burger Takes On the Veggie Sandwich

by Amanda Hess

October 3, 2011

"California is about self-renewal and self-improvement." "Partisans for the fast food burger cry out that it is truly the iconic California sandwich, establishing itself as mainstay from the jukebox joints in the era of American Graffiti to today's California culture standard-bearer, Best Coast. The fast food burger speaks to the superficiality, the hedonism, the live-for-the-moment spirit that defines the state in the popular imagination," GOOD business editor and American Sandwich Expert Tim Fernholz posits. "And yet when that short-term pleasure wears off and the food coma sets in, California is also all about self-renewal and self-improvement, finding some way to erase what came before (grease and cholesterol) and build something better." For Fernholz, "It comes down to this distinction: Fast food burgers have spread around the country and the globe. You can get a greasy burger anywhere and revel in commodified American deliciousness. What sets California apart is the idea that at your next meal you can totally change your approach to eating and find some measure of redemption in organic veggies and lifestyle choices."

"It costs $13." My two cents: If a sandwich is to truly represent the state of California, it should be accessible to all of us. The sprout sandwich, while delicious, costs $13. That's about 10 times the cost of an In-N-Out burger, also delicious. I realize I'm selling out the vegetarian contingent with thi

s calculation, but the numbers don't lie: One sprout sandwich could conceivably feed 10 Californians once, or me 10 times. The fast food burger is the only responsible choice.

"I instantly envisioned avocados." "In-N-Out burgers always scream SoCal to me because, as a Californian, it's my favorite burger. But when I think of something uniquely Californian I think of freshness," GOOD designer Kate Slovin says. "I instantly envisioned avocados and tomatoes, maybe some sprouts, maybe in a pita. When presented with all of the above with onions, swiss cheese and on a wheat bun, it's needless to say I wasn't surprised. It was tasty with the creamy avocados mixed with the freshness of sprouts. Fresh, cool and healthy, the exact opposite of In-N-Out. Don't get me wrong, I love In-N-Out, but the sandwich from Urth Cafe takes the (vegan, gluten-free) cake."

Sorry, Greenwell: The veggie sandwich wins in a landslide.

Disclaimer: These highly scientific results have been skewed by the sandwich preferences of the GOOD offices (many staff members were disqualified entirely on the basis of their vegetarianism, preventing them from sampling both sammies). What's your personal pick for California's ultimate sammy? Start your own sandwich wars in the comments.

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What Is California's Sandwich? The Fast Food Burger Takes On the Veggie Sandwich