“I want a sandwich named after me.” — Jon Stewart
It’s ingrained in our nature, this desire to want to be remembered, to leave a legacy that will echo through the ears of your great-great-great-grandchildren and beyond. There’s something delightful in the prospect of having a sandwich named after you—it’s no Purple Heart or Great American Novel or registered charity, but some people just want to be thought of while strangers are ordering lunch.
That being said, there are a number of strategies one could take when seeking to get a sandwich named after them. Let’s walk through five of them, and where you could go about it.
Strategy I: Create One
Productos Extremeños — Getafe, Spain
The ‘Bocata Karen’: Wheat bread, chicken, brie, lettuce, honey and apples.
Variety is never a bad thing, but to the sandwich enthusiast, it can be terrifying. Upon entering the innocuous café near the university campus, you are met with thousands upon thousands of pieces of brightly colored paper, each with the name and recipe of a salad or sandwich a customer created. There is already a twinge of sadness building. Even if you do make the greatest sandwich ever and have it named after you, will people be able to see it amongst the others? Will anybody know? You’ll know, the voice replies, and that’s all that matters.
Notice the smile creep across your face when the women behind the counter calls you “honey pie,” hints at an Extremaduran accent through the English. Take a bite and immediately experience remorse. Not because the sandwich you’ve created tastes bad—in fact, the opposite—but because this feels like the draft before the masterpiece. You know you can improve upon the design.
You return to the sandwich shop three times a week for the next month, taking notes from each colorful scrap of paper on the wall, slowly watching your travel savings and your waistline develop a strange inverse relationship. Each time, you draw ever closer, each marriage of bocadillo baguette to filling a step towards sandwich Areté. Once you have reached it, and if it is an original design, the women behind the counter will write it down on one of their colorful sheets of paper and tack it on the wall, signed with a declaration of Muy rico! and a smiley face.
Strategy II: Earn It
R U Hungry? — New Brunswick, New Jersey
The Fat Maleman: Cheesesteak, mozzarella sticks, marinara, bacon, hot peppers, French fries, named for Voorhees, New Jersey mail carrier Dave Goldstein.
It’s February—Rutgers is in the throes of basketball season and New Brunswick is in the throes of a slushy, dismal mess that makes walking to class and home from the bars feel like cheating death. The cold makes your stomach long for a blanket, something thick and comforting. The growl lurks and ripples at the base of your gullet under all those layers of winter wear.
You begin to have reservations as you approach the truck. Five fat sandwiches, half an hour and the custom sandwich is yours. You watched that one show on the Travel Channel where the guy who does all the eating competitions failed. His strategy was all wrong, you think. On the ride up to New Brunswick, you and your accomplices discussed where he failed. The vegetarian burger would have been too starchy, you offer. The textures of meat and meat substitute did not meld harmoniously in his digestive tract. You will watch your companion confidently attempt the competition fail. Coming up on 26 minutes and several bites into the last Fat Darrell, your companion will stumble to a nearby trashcan and expel everything into it like a frantic mother bird. In a sick and sadistic way, it will make you want to conquer it more.
Goldstein, he who carries letters in his hands and sandwiches in his belly, finished three Fat Kokos (Cheesesteak, mozzarella sticks, fries and marinara) and two Fat Cats (double cheeseburger, fries, lettuce, tomato, mayo and ketchup) in a record-setting 27 minutes and 50 seconds to earn his spot on R U Hungry’s custom menu. You could do it in 27:49 if you tried. It will be over in a flash and all you will remember of the ordeal is searing pain and the salty, chewy, runny goodness of mozzarella sticks in the first bite and glory will be yours.
Strategy III: Be A Celebrity
Flashback Diner — Boca Raton, Florida
The Elton John: Charbroiled chicken breast topped with cheddar cheese and bacon.
This somehow seems the most effective strategy, but also one of the riskiest, as depending on how your career goes, the ingredients of your sandwich will be a bit of a crapshoot. There are really only two steps to this strategy: the first is to become a celebrity (any kind will do, but film star tends to work best) and the second is to try and be likable. I wonder if celebrities, when they go about their daily business, ever think about what would go into a sandwich named after them.
If you are disappointed with the sandwich, a la Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm, you can always try asking Ted Danson to switch with you. It probably won’t work. But at least you can pick the capers off.
Strategy IV: Ask Nicely (on National Television)
Jaws Jumbo Burgers — Farmington Hills, Michigan
The “I Want A Sandwich Named After Me” Dave Letterman Burger: ground sirloin, bacon, American and Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, pickles and grilled onions.
Find a way to get on national television. The easiest way to do this now it seems is to either be a celebrity (see Strategy III) or become Internet-famous. Create a viral video of yourself doing something ridiculous and attention-seeking. Tweet it to all your friends. Watch it spread until one day you get the call from a local talk show. Go on said show. Do the bit the audience wants to see, and then ask for the good sandwich artists of America to erect a bread-and-meat monument in your honor. Today, you are a Pharaoh.
Strategy V: Befriend A Chef
The Blackstone Hotel — Omaha, Nebraska
The Reuben: Rye bread, corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut, named for Reuben Kulakofsky
(Disclaimer: This is one of several origin stories of the Reuben and should not be taken as sandwich gospel.)
There is already a beer waiting for you when you sit down. These are friends you’ve met with at the same bar for what has felt like eons but has probably only been about two years. You met the first one at some work thing or some terrible cocktail party or Bikram yoga because you just weren’t sure what to do with yourself when you first moved to this city.
Neither of you knew anyone else there and thus stuck together, discovered you disliked all the same people but thought that new Decemberists album was pretty great so the next week you were invited to this weekly meeting at this lovely dive, the kind of place where the knowledge it exists makes you feel like a friend has just told you they’re in a secret relationship with a rock star—this space is ours, and it is lovely.
You’re usually the only group in on a Monday at that hour, so the folks in the kitchen begin testing new snacks and things on your group. You get to know the people preparing your meals—their backstories, kids’ names, blood types. They get to know you and why you moved there in the first place. The exchanges turn into a strange friendship, and as your ‘regular’ status is cemented, a sandwich is custom-made in your honor. It’s written on the menu board in colorful chalk, and suddenly you feel like you could live here forever.