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Nov 10, 2006 08:18 PM

Is a burrito a "sandwich"?

There was a recent trial court decision in Massachusetts, where the judge ruled that, as a matter of law, a burrito is not a sandwich.

You can read the article on the decision here...

The case involved a dispute between a Panera, which had exclusive rights to sell sandwiches in a mall in Massachusetts. The owner of the mall later signed a lease with the Qdoba chain, and Panera sought to enforce the exclusivity provision of their lease.

The case apparently included expert testimony from chef Chris Schlesinger, a well-regarded Boston restauranteur who recently opened the "All-Star Sandwich Bar."

Notably, there was no indication about whether the subject of wraps came up.

So I put it to you chowhounds - did the judge decide this issue correctly?

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  1. If the judge was Solomon, he would have cut the sandwich (or burrito) in half.

    1 Reply
    1. The decision is a coin toss, but either way it's no skin off my apple.

      1. Clearly a burrito is not a sandwich. A sandwich is by definition a filling "sandwiched" between pieces of bread. A burrito is a filling wrapped in a tortilla.

        Now if they were arguing whether a torta was a sandwich, or whether falafel in pita was a sandwich, I'd think it would have been a closer call, but as it stands, the Judge's decision was right on.

        Leave it to the lawyers to try to argue that a burrito is a sandwich. That's like trying to argue that a taco is a sandwich or a slice of pizza is a sandwich. Sheesh!

        The link in the article on "is it a sandwich" called "related: you decide" is hilarious!

        1 Reply
        1. re: DanaB

          But what is a croque monsieur - or a "hot pocket"? That is, if you seal the edges of the bread, does the sandwich cease to exist and something else emerge? Similarly, does battering and frying the sandwich change its platonic essence to another category of being?

          Oh well. I'm always happy to see our courts are occupied with issues of critical importance to the vital domain of culinary cladistics.

        2. I'd say the judge did right. Otherwise you could argue that pizza is really an open face tomato and cheese sandwich.

          1. There was a much closer (and funnier) case down in Providence earlier this year involving another mall exclusivity clause -- this one dealing with boiled rice.

            The judge heard TEN DAYS of testimony and even toured the kitchens of the restaurants involved.