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SSS II Turbo: Part Two: Albertsons

Our three-supermarket sandywar continues with another entry in the peppered turkey and colby on sourdough with tomatoes and mustard showdown.

Albertsons finished second in the Supermercado Sandy Spectacular’s first round; how will it fare in round two?

This was the question in my mind as I loitered near the Albertsons deli … scanning, observing. Before I approached the counter, I got a metaphorical taste of what I was about to experience. A somewhat timid and confused man, who spoke only Spanish, walked up to the counter and asked the sandwich artist (whom I will refer to as Jack from here on, as he looked like a Jack and I didn’t get his name) a question. Jack responded with a sunny “Si, Si!” and took the man over to the imported cheese island, where I was lurking and pondering a hummus purchase while I watched and waited. Jack found the exact cheese the man was looking for, and said several words in Spanish, one of which I believe translates to “Tuesday.” The stranger was visibly grat…

SSS II Turbo: Part One: King Soopers

Supermercado Sandy Spectacular II Turbo is now underway with King Soopers' attempt at our SSS2T template sandwich.

I was immediately put off by the confusing chalkboard menu array. I saw lots of assorted prices, something about salad and a drawing of a bowl of piping-hot soup. Eventually I located the sandyprice, or rather, the formula for calculating the sandyprice. It said made-to-order sandwiches cost $5.99 per pound of meat and/or cheese. Not being a math whiz, I found the need for sudden calculations disconcerting. I estimated I would need approximately one quarter pound each of meat and cheese. My lunch associate, a healthy-eating pixel artist, advised asking for less cheese. He was right; a quarter pound would have been way too much. In the end, I asked for a QP of peppered turkey and a couple slices of cheese, which worked out well, I feel.

The Breakdown

Overall Taste: Solid. The Soop delivered; this was just what I expected.

Bread: A tame, thinly sliced sourdough. I believe i…

Olivewatch ’07: Olive’s fair follow-up

Our friends at Subway World Headquarters (SWH) were gracious enough to provide It’s What’s Between with quick answers to our questions. Do not let it be said that Subway doesn’t care about the sandwich concerns of its customers — it most certainly does.

First, we must cop to a mistake we made in our last Olivewatch post. The people who make your sandwiches at Subway restaurants are not “sandwichmachen” as we called them; they are actually called sandwich artists. We regret any harm our error has caused the sandwich community.

Now, what we learned, direct from SWH:

1. How many olives you get is not up to the whim of each store, as each franchisee is subject to “stringent regulation” regarding its coherence to companywide “product formulas.” If you feel, as we do, that the formula calls for too few olives, SWH suggests the following: “If you feel that you would like more of a certain fresh vegetable, simply ask the sandwich artist for it.” This doesn’t address the issue of sandwich artist …

Supermercado Sandy Spectacular II Turbo

Fearing round one was unfair, we aim to make things right in the Supermercado Sandy Spectacular's second round. The first round saw perennial favorite King Soopers trounced by a pair of unspectacular competitors. The lopsided defeat was largely due to Kings’ godawful cream cheese and cranberry slopfest, which we suspect wasn’t indicative of the formidable supermarket deli’s typical offerings.

Thus, a more objective round two. This time, we’re not ordering any wrapped prêt-à-manger BS. This time, we’re ordering the same approximate sandwich — prepared on the spot — from all three supermarket delis. That way it’s apples to apples and the whinebags at Kings can’t complain.

The Round Two Template Sandy:
Bread: SourdoughMeat: Black-peppered turkeyCheese: MuensterVeggies: TomatoesCondiments: MustardIn another feeble attempt at establishing standards, we will qualitatively grade each supermarket deli in five categories. Then, using computers “borrowed” from the sandylab last night, we will …

Olivewatch ’07: Olive’s fair in Subway stores

Sorry about that title. As penance, we present to you: Olive 3D.

As Olivewatch ’07 enters its third month, It’s What’s Between is learning more, but has come to no definitive conclusions.

Our go-to Subway is averaging six olives per sandy. Members of the It’s What’s Between team visited the upstart northern Subway this week, which recently launched an ill-conceived and easily exploited promotion wherein they broke into our office and left dozens of free sandwich coupons in the lunchroom. In a move that’s still paying off, our art director Michael took a healthy stack and we’ve been enjoying free sandies ever since.

Our fact-finding mission revealed fascinating new data. First, I received a record 13 olive slices on my Cold Cut Combo. I believe this may have been due to my ordering method. Check it out: I ordered my bread, meat and cheese, and once it was veggie time, I began staring at the open sandwich and said slowly and deliberately that I would like olives. I then closely watched the…

Chicken sandwich for a buck

Church’s Chicken Sandwich

First, I always thought it was “Church’s Chicken,” but it’s not. “Churches Chicken” makes much less sense to me. It’s like calling a place “Schools Burgers” or “Houses Pancakes.”

Never mind. I just checked their site and it is “Church’s.” My receipts are just misspelled. I should start this entry over, but whatevs.

Here's the deal: I ordered the Spicy Chicken Sandwich combo, which includes a Spicy Chicken Sandwich, regular Coke and crinkle fries. They fared as follows:

Fries: A touch tepid, but great overall. They’re crinkly like the frozen bagged ones you bake. They tasted almost exactly like Chick-fil-A’s waffle fries — a good thing, as C-f-A is the undisputed fast food champion of the chicken sandwich and fries combo. Church’s fries are salty and oily right up to the point of being too much so; they are maximum strength fries. They are pale yellow with golden brown accents. Like the best of fries, they possess a crunchy exterior and are all soft and potaoe…

What is a Sandwich? The Big Question

What is a sandwich? This is not a rhetorical question, nor is it a koan.

The answer is an important starting point for any extended sandy discussion. We regret that we failed to address the question at the outset; the resulting lack of clarity has led to questionable reviews of calzones and sandwich crackers. So we asked ourselves, only to realize there’s no easy answer.

Common sense and the “It’s What’s Between’s” header dictate that a sandwich is two pieces of bread with some foodstuff in between. Unless it only has one piece of bread, in which case it’s an open-face sandwich. But a piece of bread with jelly on it surely isn’t a sandwich. But if you add peanut butter to that same jellied toast, do you make an open-face PB&J? Is a wrap a sandwich; if so, is a burrito? What about burgers — are they sandwiches? My gut says no, but I don’t know what to believe anymore.

Ever since one of our damned interns (he’s no longer with us) raised the question, the whole sandyblog operation has b…

SSS: So we started screamin’ on such a winter’s day

Signature Cold California Dreamin’ Sandwich Regular
Purchased from Safeway in Thornton, Colo.

This sandwich review concludes Round One of the Supermercado Sandy Spectacular. Safeway secured its crown with this easy win over Albertsons’ cheesy mayo heart attack wrap and King Soopers’ cran-turkey disaster quasi-sandy. As follows is a recap of S-Way’s first place finish.

Contents:
Turkey, bacon, tomato, guacamole, carpet slipper bread, mayonnaiseProblems:Tomatoes sliced too thin; barely noticeableBacon overpowering and dominates tasteMayo is unnecessary, as the bacon provides plenty of savoriness. I would have preferred more guacamole of the bread bottom instead of the mayo.Props:Generous use of guacamole on the top breadbottom of the sandwichGuac-lovers take note — Safeway has a liberal guacamole policy. Many places, worst of all fast-causal burrito joints (I would link to Chipotle’s site here, but it's too annoying), cruelly charge anywhere from 75 cents to $1.75 extra for a blob of gu…

SSS: Wraps and rants

Albertsons Fresh-Made Turkey Bacon Cheddar Deli Wrap Sandwich

Welcome to the Supermercado Sandy Spectacular, Round One, Part Two, wherein I review Albertsons’ unwitting entry in this poorly organized but well-intentioned contest.

The wrap costs $2.99. You can also purchase the lunch box, as I did, for a dollar more. The lunch box includes the wrap as well as a 1-ounce bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos and a 2-ounce Aunt Katie’s Chocolate Chunk Cookie.

Primary ingredients: Turkey breast, cabbage, cheddar cheese, feta dressing (mayo and feta cheese, basically) and bacon.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of my sandyblog editorial tenure, it’s that meat often isn’t just meat. Let me explain. Previously, when eating a meated sandwich, I would have assumed the only ingredient in the meat is meat. E.g., the ingredients in ham would be as follows: ham.

But that’s not the case. The turkey breast in this wrap contained, among many other things, turkey broth, dextrose and carrageenan. What…

Olivewatch ’07: Breaking news

I got the Subway sub of the day today (turkey breast) and as always, asked for olives. I received seven olives, each carefully placed atop the meat with approximately equidistant spacing.

I will continue to count how many olives I get each time I eat at Subway to see if I can find any olive trends across different employees and locations.

SSS: Cranberry turkey disaster

I jumped into this sandy purchase based on Mark’s recommendation of Pat’s PJ’s Gobbler. I’m the only one to blame here, though; I should have known better than to assume all holiday-inspired sandies are created equal.

As follows is a log of my harrowing King Soopers pre-cellophaned sandwich journey.

First Impressions
Good size, will be fillingDifficult to judge contents, but realized upon opening that the deception’s for the best, as its inside looked disgusting
Baguette crusty in parts, but unsettlingly damp in others — probably due to the cranberry sauceTaste
Weird. Not unpleasant, but not great either. Tastes like Thanksgiving’s cousin who means well but doesn’t quite get it.The turkey tastes good as does the cranberry sauce, but it’s more jelly than sauce. I prefer can-shaped, Jell-O-like medallions.Texture
Bad. Unpleasantly soggy in parts. Eventually the cran and mush disappeared and I was left chewing turkey and the drier parts of the bread. After all the smooshy horror, the texture w…

Feature launch: Supermercado Sandy Spectacular

Never mind the poorly translated headline — this new feature has nothing to do with Spain. This is actually a tour of supermarket delis’ sandy offerings.

The tour’s inspiration came from Mark, a renowned Denver-based cartographer and sandwich enthusiast.

I felt like it would be cheating to order any custom sandies, because then I’d just get my favorite fillings and it would be subjective and complicated and wrong. So I only ordered pre-made sandwiches, or at least pre-planned ones with clever names that I could order from the delicatessen’s menu.

Round one featured the big three Colorado-based supermarkets: King Soopers, Albertsons and Safeway. Round one is now over. I know you hate surprises so here were the results:
First Place: SafewaySecond Place: AlbertsonsThird Place: King SoopersRunner-Up: Cub Foods (stores all gone, not sure where they went)Each store's specific results are coming soon.

It is better to look good than to taste good

Not a food maxim to follow, generally, despite Iron Chef’s emphasis on plating. But this time it proved true, and I learned a lesson about second chances.

It was not long ago that Philipe lured me into eating his so-called Southwest Chicken Gourmet Sandwich, which I ultimately regretted for several reasons. Still, being a glutton for both punishment and sandwiches, I recently tried Philipe’s other Walgreens panini: the Turkey Club Gourmet Sandwich. One look, and you'll know it's not a club sandwich. One bite, and you’ll know turkey is not prominently featured beyond its name. Despite these setbacks, this sandy exceeded my expectations.

One of my main complaints about my first Philipe panini purchase was that the photo on the box failed to look anything like the product within. Usually this kind of deception comes with a disclaimer explaining the need for some assembly, or a statement explaining that the elaborate spread on the box is merely a “serving suggestion” assuming you pl…

It’s time to address grilled cheese sandwiches

I’ve been considering a grilled cheese sandwich (GC) post for a while now but never knew where to start. I’ve eaten dozens of GCs since joining the It’s What’s Between staff, some good, some bad. But we simply don’t have the time and resources to review all of them.

Yesterday, the topic of grilled cheese arose in three unrelated instances. It was a sign — the time has come to address the GC. First, I stumbled on a New York Times article hailing the GC. Within, Jennifer Steinhauer explores the GC’s surprising presence in some of New York’s finer restaurants. While some of the featured chefs’ recipes were predictably ridiculous and pretentious (calling “taleggio cheese with short ribs, arugula and apricot caper purée on raisin bread” a GC is blasphemy), Steinhauer’s GC homage is spot on. She nails the sandy’s essence at the beginning of the second graf: “Buttery, salty and enduringly simple, the grilled cheese sandwich stands unrivaled in the universe of simple gastro-pleasures.”

F’in A…

Excessive YouTube linkage plus sandwich cracker ambiguity clarified

They may be a bunch of tree-dwelling, pointy-eared freaks, but those Keebler Elves work some magic with their tiny ovens.

I needed food fast. I was deep within the bowels of Denver airport in the back of its subterranean regional jet terminal. With 10 minutes before my flight, I hurried back through the dark corridors to acquire quick and easy sustenance.

I grabbed a pack of Club and Cheddar sandwich crackers at the newsstand for a buck and change. I'll say right now that they the first sandwiches in a long while I highly recommend. Their many positive traits are as follows:
Both salty and cheesyPlentiful: eight sandies for under two bucksInstead of boring old bread, the filling is sandwiched by crackers, and not just any crackers but Club crackers, which are by all measures the top cracker on the market today.Cheese filling is cheddar cheese, which a reliable and good cheese if not the fanciest. It is not a pretentious cheese.This cheese, it's real, as the package clearly states…

A classic returns

Any Denver-based sandwich eater worth his or her salt or pepper knows that one of the top sandwiches is The Spot's Cajun Chicken, which the esteemed Dr. Z introduced me to in 2004. At least it was one of Denver's top sandies until The Spot's cruel management dropped it from the menu, pretending it never existed in a Stalinesque move. Following that betrayal, The Spot ceased own a spot in my heart, and it was years before I gave it another chance.

Last week, I finally returned to discover the exalted Cajun Chicken is back. No fanfare; the sandy's just on the menu again. Needless to say, I ordered the long-missed sandwich. It's very much the same. It came on a cornmeal powdered kaiser bun with a heap of uncalled-for veggies on the side. Most importantly, the basket included a little tub of The Spot's magic Cajun sauce, without which, the sandwich is powerless. If you feel like putting a bunch of lettuce and onions and pickles on it too, fine — it's all there f…

You get what you pay for

The Background
Today began like every weekday: I hit the snooze button several times, slept a bit more in the shower, brewed some Dunkin' Donuts coffee for the road and forgot my lunch.

Although optimism doesn't come naturally to me, my professional training has taught me to find a positive spin in every bad situation. This technique allowed me to transform forgetting today's forgotten lunch into a Sanditunity.

Lacking the gumption to leave the office to buy a sandwich, I said a brief, quiet prayer to the Sandwich Gods that some quasi-edible manna would be for sale in the vending machine. There, I discovered a grizzly and mumbly man stocking the machine with fresh but unappetizing fare.

"Fresh sandies!" I exclaimed to myself silently. I waited for the bearded sandwich stocker to leave before returning to examine what treasures he had left. It felt like I imagine Christmas feels in countries in desperate need of food. A woman buying a breakfast burrito warned me of &q…

It’s like 10 thousand ounces of mayo when all you need is an olive

Many of my associates have lamented the lack of olives on Subway sandwiches, while others have griped that a request for “just a little mayo” is oft-interpreted as “all of your mayo, please.” I prefer the oil and vinegar, which the sandwichier also goes crazy with. But my concern is more with the lack of olives.Regardless of which sub I order, I always get tomatoes, banana peppers, spinach and olives. Without fail, the sandy artisan delicately places each sliced black olive, one by one, on the sandwich … usually five or six total. I’ve given up on asking for more because the request is usually met with a sigh and the placement of three additional olives, followed by a look of “anything else, your majesty?”According to Subway’s FAQ, the Olive Problem is the blame of a formula. It says “all restaurants must follow a formula when preparing subs and salads,” adding that “charging for extra toppings is not recommended.” Does this mean some Subways will actually charge you for extra olives?…

Excuses and a diversion into sport

I’ve been so busy this week that I haven’t eaten any sandies. That should tell you something considering the Sandy Council’s 1986 ad campaign touting “Sandies: Nature’s Fastest Food ©.”Instead, I have been eating pork chops, pretzels with hummus and American cheese singles. This diet ensures both authenticity as I live the Bachelor Lifestyle and sufficient intake of the three building blocks of food: fat, carbohydrate and protein — when supplemented with vitamins, these will keep you nourished, technically. Note: chewable children’s vitamins, while delicious, have been found, by me, not to suffice, unless you also eat vegetables besides onions and potatoes. Over the four years I experimented with the Flinstonesque Zippy Zoo vitamins, I contracted scurvy, yellow fever, the Black Death©, rickets and several other diseases with funny names. If Zippy Zoo vitamins were a sandwich, they would receive 4.5 sandies for taste and 2 sandies for nutritional value.During what downtime I’ve had, I’…

Editorial: Fears surrounding sandwich-beatings unfounded

There has been a lot of talk in the mainstream press lately about the so-called "Sandwich-beating epidemic." It seems every day's news features a story about some guy pounded with fists and pipes over a sandwich.

While I admit the rise of anti-sandwich hooliganism is a growing problem, it has not reached the heights fear-mongering news outlets imply.

For example, take this story from today's Cyprus Mail: Man savagely beaten as he waited for sandwich.

Reporter John Leonidou (whose work I typically admire, by the way) tells the tale of a man hospitalized by drunken youths. Despite John's focus on the sandwich-waiting angle in the lede, and some editor's sensationalistic headline, there's no indication that the beating was directly related to the victim's sandwich purchase. In fact, I doubt it was; sandwich-hate gangs barely have a presence in Cyprus.

Now consider a Sept. 3 This Is Lancashire article, which relayed the sad news that former Blackburn Rugby Un…

Once, "Gourmet" Meant Something

Gourmet Sub Sandwich

This was the second straight exercise in sandwich name deception I feel victim to this week. This one was far less egregious and left me less rage-filled than yesterday’s offering. It came from a reliable gas station with overpriced gas.

The sandy consisted of Turkey, roast beef, ham and cheese (cheddar, I think, and another unspecified white cheese, maybe swiss?) on a hoagie bun. The turkey had a potent black pepper crust on its edges and looked a bit sketchy coloration-wise in parts. Roast beef was mostly high-quality, with a few tiny spots of gasoline-like iridescence. The ham was the iffiest — it was kind of blotchy in parts.

Part of me though the offcolored meat was a good sign; maybe this was real meat rather than the overly processed stepford-wives uniformity found with that circular deli meat you get in the circular hanging plastic meat containers by the American cheese singles at the supermercado.

The meat was stacked as follows: roast beef (dark brown and a …

Pa-no-no: Do Not Trust Southwestering Offerings from Men Named Philipe

Philipe's Southwest Chicken Panini Gourmet Sandwich

How many cooler case sandwiches do you think they have for sale at Walgreens? Some of the dingiest gas stations in town carry four or five, so I figured Walgreens, with its wall of well-stocked coolers, would have about 15 to pick from. I was wrong. Not counting burritos (and what deranged Sandy Soul would?), my local Walgreens offered a measly two sandwiches.

Given that I was buying groceries at an establishment specializing in selling sub-WalMart quality plastic crap (i.e., the shambled remains of my $6 shower curtain), I was clearly in a desperate, lunchless situation. I had to choose one of the sandwiches.

Both were Philipe's-brand frozen paninis (panini, for you damned Italian sticklers). I've been impressed in the past by what silver grilling surface technology has done for microwavable foods (e.g., Lean Cuisine paninis, Bagel Bites, etc.), so I had somewhat high hopes for this sandwich.

"I like paninis," I th…

Back in the Game like John McCain

It's What's Between — one of the Web's better sandyblogs — is back. We apologize for the posting hiatus, but you're going to feel really bad once you find out why so ... not that sorry.

You see, our former Editor, The Earlduke of Sandwieche, was fatally killed to death in an exceptionally gory Sandwich Incident. It's too gruesome to explain in a family sandyblog, but the important thing to take away is that he's not coming back, at least in any recognizable form.

But every sandwich death has a silver lining, and this one is no exception. We're excited to announce our new Editor: Alex Headrick. Alex has spent years eating sandwiches and is therefore well qualified for the job.

"I'm thrilled to join the team and can't wait to get my hands dirty with ink and sandwich drippings," Alex said in a prepared statement.

Indeed. Gross, but indeed. Welcome aboard, asshole!

Tasty Oily Meat and Chee

On Friday, March 9, I ate a turkey sandwich I'd packed for lunch. I'd picked up some Boar's Head — that's the stuff they use at sandwich haven Spicy Pickle — meat and cheese from Sunflower Market and wanted to put it to good use. The resulting sandy consisted of Sarah Lee Hearty and Delicious Whole Grain White bread, Boar's Head Muenster cheese (three slices), Boar's Head Buffalo-style turkey, Louisiana Fish Fry Products Remoulade dressing and a few shakes of Tabasco sauce.

The photos are currently missing, but imagine two equal stacks of meat and cheese between some white bread that was stained red on top thanks to the sauce soaking through.

This sandy could have used some tomatoes or some crisp veggie to cut the cheese taste, which was the dominant flavor. Otherwise, the flavors blended together quite well and the bread matched nicely.

But, after three days in the fridge, the oil from the light red Remoulade dressing had seeped into bread. The sandwich still tas…

Quick sandy twofer

I have entered day three of my gas station sandwich tour of the Tech Center and Gateway Park. I keep craving them for unknown reasons … possibly the same force that compels me to drink a lot of gas station coffee sometimes. Tuesday's MEGA Turkey & Cheese was boring and not worth my time purchasing, eating or reviewing. Wednesday and Thursday's sandwiches were somewhat more compelling.

7-Eleven Tuna Salad Sandwich

It consisted of a fair amount of gray, creamy tuna salad on thin wheat bread sliced into two triangles. I was pleasantly surprised by its taste, which was sufficiently sweet and savory from relish and mayo while maintaining its tuna flavor. It was not too soggy, and sogginess as you well know is the biggest ruiner of prepackaged tuna, egg and chicken salad sandwiches. I detected something tangy that woke up my taste buds half way through the sandwich. I think it was lemon. But what cost this sandwich was its bread. Amazingly, it hardened to a stale crust within a mi…

Top ten U.S. sandwiches of 1998

1. Monte Cristo
2. Sandwich, Massachusetts
3. Bacon and Maple Syrup on French Toast
4. Grilled Cheese with Tomato
5. The Dagwood
6. ’98 Special
7. Philly Cheese Steak (Cheez Whiz edition)
8. Subway Cold Cut Combo
9. Open Face (various)
10. Your Mom’s Chicken Salad

That's no muffuletta

After a weekend of In-N-Out Burger and my first taste of El Pollo Loco (awesome churros, surprisingly good flan, filling taquitos), I was in back Colorado feeling pessimistic about lunch. Having spent almost my entire lunch hour wandering around Best Buy, my options were suddenly limited to only the fastest fast food choices. Knowing Burger King would fail to satisfy me after having recently known the joys of the Double-Double twice over, I was left with the last resort of the harried and hurried: a gas station sandwich.

I was delighted to discover this particular gas station offered a wide variety of meal options, including a glass case full of lamp-heated deli items that included staples like fried chicken as well as more intriguing choices. I gazed, amazed, at the greasy bounty. The two items that caught my eye were the tall pile of gizzards (breaded and fried; probably chicken-derived) and a plate of “Jamaican Meat Pies,” which were little dough pockets that looked like empanadas. …