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Sandwich Sexism Might Be a Real Thing

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Is gender determining the size of sandwich you’re served?

The pastrami sandwich at 2nd Avenue Deli
Nick Solares

You’ve heard of casual sexism in restaurants: when the bill is placed in front of the man at the table, or a food runner gives the guy the steak and the woman the sea bass. These are just some of the sometimes-unconscious acts that occur daily in restaurants (or, you know, everywhere).

But, did you ever think that the size of your sandwich would be dependent on gender? In this week’s episode of The Sporkful, host Dan Pashman introduced the idea of sandwich sexism. He sets up the episode with a story of legendary critic Mimi Sheraton, who drove around New York with over 100 sandwiches in her car for a story. (Sheraton was weighing the sandwiches to conclude which New York deli provides the best value and the most meat.)

A Sporkful listener posed a vexed comment to Pashman — that Sheraton would be receiving smaller sandwiches, by default, because she is a woman; that sandwich makers are likely making smaller sandwiches for female customers, who are considered to eat less (or not at all and instead just laugh at their food). And there’s the episode hypothesis.

The episode unfolds as Pashman visits four New York restaurants — a New York corner bodega, Faicco's, Choza, Second Avenue Deli — with writer Laura Anderson. The two order the same sandwich at each restaurant, from the same sandwich maker, within minutes of each other.After ordering, Pashman and Anderson interview the sandwich maker, asking if this idea of sandwich sexism would be a shock to them. They all say it wouldn’t. Even one counter person, the only female sandwich maker on the show, goes on to say that she has encountered this type of discrimination everywhere she has worked.

The duo take their sandwiches for a weigh-in, and find that at all but one of the restaurants, the sandwich made for Anderson weighed more than Pashman’s did.

Your middle school science class will remind you that four is a rather small sample size, so this research is a few sandwiches short of a real conclusion. So tell us: Have you ever experienced sandwich sexism?

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