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Pet peeve: Sandwiches with "everything" by default

Can anyone explain why so many sandwich places insist on drowning all their sandwiches in "everything" - which usually includes lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, and mayo - even for sandwiches whose ingredients don't really go well with that stuff?

I can't imagine why anyone would want that stuff on a meatball grinder, for instance, or a sundried tomato and mozzarella sub (pesto and yellow French's mustard is a truly nasty combination).

Bleccch. Why??

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  1. You are right, of course.
    I have been served a patty melt (several times) with shredded lettuce and sliced tomato. NO.
    Also, I think pickles should never be on the sandwich -- no matter what kind of sandwich. On the side, please, cause 99 times out of 100 I won't like your pickle.

    1. unless of course it's a properly made muffaletta in NOLA. (which is almost but not quite everything)

      1. Could be I've been getting my sandwiches at different kinds of places than either the OP or laliz, but all the sandwich menus I've seen lately list the ingredients that come by default, thus giving me the opportunity to say, "Um, hold the...." which I occasionally do, especially if the ingredient is ketchup (doesn't happen much in SoCal, but the Midwest!). This also gives me the chance to ask if they could shovel on something that isn't listed, like a couple of extra pickles (sorry, laliz) or mayonnaise. And this is also why I shall never darken the door of any restaurant, such as Father's Office, that refuses to allow any alteration in the ingredients. The customer may not be always right, but he IS always the customer.

        1. Absolutely agreed. An equally annoying variant of that, which I encounter from time to time as a frequent flyer, is when the only sandwich option on a flight is some sort of "chef's special" concoction (usually served in a dried out flavored wrap) involving "smoked" turkey and some kind of weird chutney, when a straightforward roast beef & cheese on rye (or even just plain cheese!) would be infinitely more appetizing.

          The US airlines are most at fault with this - one of the best in-flight meals I've ever had was on Lufthansa in coach: a plain but honest ham and cheese sandwich served with a crisp apple and a Toblerone chocolate bar.

          11 Replies
          1. re: BobB

            Could not agree more! Sandwiches have gone haywire....I mean, sun dried tomato and rosemary bread, pepper jack cheese, roasted red pepper mayo, peppered roast beef...dude...yuck. Just becuase there is a ton of flavor does not mean it tastes good. Are you listening Quiznos? Makes me long for a simple ham and cheese.

            1. re: bubbles4me

              Well, at least those kinds of ingredients can be good, as long as you don't go nuts piling them on top of each other. But I'll never understand why so many sandwich places have a fetish for supermarket mayo, yellow mustard, and the worst of the lot, shredded yellow iceberg lettuce.

              Some delis avoid this, but others (especially the ones where the sandwiches are listed by their main ingredient only) dump this crap on even if you ask them not to.

              I wonder if most Americans actually like this stuff on their sandwiches or have just become "conditioned" en masse to accept it.

              1. re: Agent 510

                Some of us (ahem) LIKE yellow mustard, supermarket mayo and (YES!) shredded iceberg, and enjoy eating the occasional casual sandwich at diners etc. because we don't have these things at home. But, to reiterate my earlier statement, you can usually ask that these items be left off. If that's not an option, vote with your feet.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  I don't think I've been "conditioned" to like anything, but Hellman's mayo is the only kind of mayo I'd want on a sandwich. Because it's good. Are delis supposed to make their own mayonnaise?

                  1. re: small h

                    I think they'd get in trouble with the Food Police if they made it right, with room-temperature raw eggs. Just one more good reason to eat at home ;-) I used to be able to buy sterilized WHOLE egg in cartons from Sysco when I lived in Nashville, so I could make mayonnaise that even pregnant folks could eat, but it doesn't seem to exist on the Left Coast...

                    I'm with you on the Hellman's, though. No Kraft for me, and certainly no wholesale-warehouse generic.

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      Nor even the fancy-pants organic super-gourmet kind. There is a place for haute condiments. But a nice, regular sandwich needs the classics - Heinz ketchup, French's mustard, and the like.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        Will - I've heard (and practice it) all you have to do is bring the egg to boil briefly, long enough to cook the membrane lining the shell interior and no more. not a soft-boiled egg, a still gooey egg.

                2. re: bubbles4me

                  I went to Quiznos. Once. I ordered a meatball sahdwich, meatballs, cheese, marinara, right? It had, I think, I can't quite recall, onions, peppers, maybe, maybe more, I can't, can't rerecall, trying to to block from memory. THE HORROR. Have not been back.

                  1. re: James Cristinian

                    OKay, I"ve never had that happen to me with a meatball sandwich at Quizno's, but some of their sandwiches do have a ridiculously long list of stuff they put on them. However, they always follow my request for what I want on and don't want on, so I don't really care. Worst experience was at a Panera, and I like Panera, one of their new "hot panini" sandwiches I wanted without the roasted tomatoes or onions, or something along those lines. They told me I couldn't get that because apparently they are shipped to that location that way already made. .....

                    1. re: James Cristinian

                      Onions and peppers (at least the hot grilled/sauteed kind) aren't that unusual on a meatball or sausage grinder. It's the cold-cut toppings - lettuce, sliced tomato, mustard, mayo - that don't belong on this or any other hot sandwich. I actually remember ordering a Reuben somewhere and getting all of the above in addition to the hot pastrami, cheese, kraut, and Thousand Island.

                      Any place that does this doesn't know what the hell they're doing and is a menace to society (haha).

                  2. re: BobB

                    Airlines are the worst. I've been on many airlines that have to slather the condiments on for you. Why not just put the condiments on the side? I absolutely loathe mayo and imagine my dismay after being stuck on an 8-hour flight when the dinky sandwich coming in at the end of the flight has mayo on it. I had no choice but to eat it because the initial meal was not very filling and there was no snack offering between meals.

                  3. This is also my major complaint at most hamburger places. You start by telling them "no lettuce" (I hate the shredded stuff) and it turns out that they put everything else you can think of on it too. Fortunately, I can eat most of it.

                    DH hates anything on anything, except a dab of mayo or ketchup, depending upon what it is he is eating. No one EVER seems to listen to the request to leave it off.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: RGC1982

                      IMHO ketchup really only belongs on potatoes. sprouts? aaah!

                      I do like the crunch iceburg lettuce offers (I even like potato chips in a pinch as the texture grinds into the mayo with the bite). I just get ticky about the type of mustard - sometimes plain yellow is right, sometimes Dijon or Chinese hot.

                      I think it's a matter of perceived value. We offer EVERYTHING!

                      Will's strategy of omission sounds good.

                    2. I think places do this because it's easier for the cook staff to read the 'deletes' on the order sheet rather than having to interpert the entire order.

                      1. It's not always the restaurant's fault. My favorite pizzeria serves cheesesteak with oil & vinegar, shredded lettuce, tomato, and mayo. They know it sounds awful, but that's what the customers keep requesting. The owner's wife has even complained to me about the customers who insist they put mayo on the meatball parm. The customer is always right, even when they clearly have no sense of taste.

                        1. I don't think places insist on putting 'everything' on a sandwich. I just think it is much easier for the order taker to ask that question then to ask the customer what they want or don't want on the sandwich. To take this question to extremes I'm fairly sure the employee would rather just make the sandwich with no condiments at all. More profitable, faster, and easier.

                          1. People love condiments. When I order a sandwich, I tell them what I want on it, or I just let them decide what they think best. Most places that have signature sandwiches know the best way it tastes, so I trust them to guide me. For example, one of my favorite sandwich places has extremely good specialty sandwiches. They have good quality meat too. But whenever someone builds their own sandwich, they go for boring. Ah well.

                            1. Back on Long Island, most of the delis I went to had you specify what you did and did not want your sandwich... "Can I have a turkey sandwich on a hard roll with lettuce, tomato, and pickles" . And that is what I received)

                              I have noted here in Buffalo, they have more "standard" sandwiches that automatically come with cheese, dressing, tomato, lettuce and onions. So if I order a turkey sandwich I have to say "Can I have a turkey sandwich on a hard roll, not a hamburger bun, with pickles (cause the lettuce and tomato are automatic), no onions, no cheese, and no dressing.

                              The resulting conversation goes something like this:
                              "No mayo?"
                              "Um....I said no dressing, thanks. So that inlcudes mayo"
                              "What kind of cheese?"
                              "No cheese"
                              "But cheese comes on it"
                              "But I don't want it"
                              "I'll have to charge you for it"

                              As much as I hate Subway's food, it DOES make it easier to order, IMHO

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: L_W

                                Ha ha! I have that same conversation with my local sandwich shop every time I order a turkey sandwich.

                                "I'd like a turkey sandwich on a sourdough roll, everything except tomato."
                                "no cheese."
                                "you sure? it's good with cheese"
                                "I'm sure."

                                And I live next door! It's not like I'm an infrequent patron.

                                1. re: emmaroseeats

                                  I guess kind of my take on that, you ask for the sandwich with everything except tomato, ... everything means everything.... the cheese? question sounds like ... what kind of cheese, not do you want cheese, since that was already in the "everything".

                              2. This is why I like the Harvey's hamburger chain in Canada. You tell them what you want on it - extra tomato, no lettuce, pickles on the side, whatever. They prep your bun while your patty is cooking, and once the burger is done, voila - a perfectly customized burger. The only things you pay extra for are cheese and bacon, which is no surprise.

                                But laliz - what do you think "bread and butter" pickles are for? I rarely put dills on a sandwich, but b&b pickles with a simple cold cut, like ham or bologna, makes a great sandwich. The pickles give it crunch and sweetness, and contrast nicely with other condiments (with ham, I like mayo; with other cuts, mustard).

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: KevinB

                                  "No lettuce" is a tough request. I think I have a less than 50% success rate with that one.

                                  1. re: Agent 510

                                    I'm extremely used to needing to pick tomatoes off of my sandwiches despite always requesting to not have them. This really only makes me sad when I eat at the sandwich shop next door as they put a fabulous pesto sauce and pepperoncinis on my sandwich and I lose a bit in the tomato extrapolation.

                                  2. re: KevinB

                                    from wikipedia
                                    Bread-and-butter pickles are sweeter in flavor than dill pickles, having a high concentration of sugar added to the brine. Rather than being served alongside a sandwich, they are more often used in fully-flavored sandwiches, such as hamburgers, or used in potato salad. Cucumbers to be made into bread and butters are often sliced before pickling.

                                    I don't want sweet in my ham or bologna or burger or tuna. Nor do I want 'slippery crunch' of an unknown nature

                                    1. re: KevinB

                                      from wikipedia
                                      Bread-and-butter pickles are sweeter in flavor than dill pickles, having a high concentration of sugar added to the brine. Rather than being served alongside a sandwich, they are more often used in fully-flavored sandwiches, such as hamburgers, or used in potato salad. Cucumbers to be made into bread and butters are often sliced before pickling.

                                      I don't want sweet in my ham or bologna or burger or tuna.
                                      I also don't want Miracle Whip because it is sweet
                                      Don't like pickled beets either

                                      I do, however, enjoy a good pickle at a Jewish Deli ~~ on its own, not in the sandwich.

                                    2. Yea, I usually am picky with the stuff that goes on my sandwich. I don't think I have ever said the word "everything" in a sandwich shop.

                                      1. I recently got a sandwich from Firehouse that I had to put in a bowl (all I had at work) and eat with a knife and fork. It was that wet.