If you have a sandwich and cut it in half, do you have one or two sandwiches
A few years ago, I asked a similarly silly question about lasagne to a group of people I know and summarized their responses. This time I’m bored on a coach, so asked 30–40 people the question “If you have a sandwich and cut it in half, do you have one or two sandwiches”.
In this post, I’ll occasionally refer to individuals by 2 letter initials to keep their personal sandwich views mostly private, while still allowing for a good laugh and for them to follow the analysis.
A few people that have ended up in both lasagne and sandwich groups noticed what I was doing and started reminiscing about the lasagne topic, shout out to HD, GC & LM…
From the provided opinions, there are several distinct groupings based on the perspectives shared.
But to introduce the problem, let’s take a look at this sandwich platter I found online, and how many sandwiches people think it delivers.
- 20 obviously
- 20 because they are an acceptable size
- 20. Trusting there are some behind that paper label
- It says 20 on the packaging so I’m going to trust them 😛
- 20 stupidly small ones, which I don’t consider a sandwich
- 20 – says on the box ;)
- 10 visible
- 10, but cut into 20 pieces
- 6 that I can see
- There are 5 sandwiches on that platter.
- Ahhhh now they’ve bypassed that by declaring the number of pieces, not the number of sandwiches. But they’ve basically just ut 5 sandwiches into quarters.
- Quarters, so 5, Easily determined by crust proportion, and likely size
- 5 (x2)
- Looks like 5 unless you split by type
- 5 sandwiches based on the idea they are quarterwiches but if they are half Wiches then there are 10
Not reading into this too much, that’s 47% saying 5, 35% saying 20, 11% saying 10 and 6% saying 6.
And of course increase the number of pictures in this post and make sure you don’t lose interest too quickly, here is a word cloud thing covering all the conversations that I had to make this post.
At least 11 people expressed a belief that cutting in half doesn’t change the fact that it’s one sandwich. We could call them the whole sandwich advocates. The sandwich has a singular identity, regardless of the number of pieces, the essence of the original sandwich remains intact.
A subgroup considered the recursive nature of the problem. Cutting a sandwich creates smaller versions of the same larger entity, but it still remains one sandwich in essence.
GC noted that perhaps once you go past 2 cuts (quarters) you start to enter the realm of “mini sandwiches”
The other end of the spectrum then lies the slicing equals multiple sandwiches view. A sandwich cut is a sandwich doubled.
A sandwich cut is a sandwich doubled has a nice ring to it, but there were some limitations, with too much division being called “monstrous” in some cases.
According to GC if you cut one original standard sandwich in 8 you are only left with crumbs. CG things that 8 leaves you with a smoothie. LyP mostly agrees, saying that somewhere between 8 and 10 leaves you with mush.
LM however thinks that 8 might just give you “finger sandwiches”
ClG noted that beyond 4 you have Canapés, but apparently thirds would revert to just being a third of a sandwich.
JW thought this crazy, and thinks sandwich size has no bounds, and is thus labelled monstrous by ClG. Apparently, cutting an original standard sandwich into 100 pieces gives you 100 very small sandwiches.
Context could be key, considering the situation and purpose of the divided sandwich. Some folks argue that the definition of a sandwich depends on the context it is presented in.
In a nutshell from NW, “Sandwiches take many forms”
Quoting OS, “If I ordered a sandwich, and they only gave me half I’d be pissed off!”, and “The only debate is at a buffet with quarter sandwiches”.
JC also had a thought on buffet style food.
It’s all about reconstructing the shape the bread was in when the sandwich was made.
Those quarter sandwiches you get at buffets. You can put a maximum of four of those together before you start having more than one sandwich.
But really, if sandwich quarters come from different original sandwiches, can they be recombined into a singular sandwich?
The maths of these opinions doesn’t really add up, which is ironic, as one response said “I hate all this ‘glass half full’ social sciences nonsense – it’s why we invented maths” – TO
- AS “But if you cut in 4, you have one again”. So 1/2/2 = 1
- CD A sandwich cut is 2 sandwiches. So 1 = 2, thus sandwich = ♾
- JC “Well it could be nothing, Cos two halves make whole and a hole is nothing so”. So 1 = 0
The statement “1/2/2 = 1 and 1 = 2 and 1 = 0” is mathematically incorrect. It appears to combine different equations that do not hold true in standard arithmetic. DiAdditionally, the statements “1 = 2” and “1 = 0” are also false in standard mathematics.
But who cares about maths…
What is sandwich
Maybe this is the question we should have started with, as it certainly posed some complications along the way. What is a sandwich?
RH actually lead with this, saying “I think the general consensus is that a sandwich (outside of the party food arena) is 2 slices of bread with some stuff in between”
Going on to say “A baguette is a baguette. A sub is a sub, cob is a cob, roll is a roll. Sub-categories of sandwiches, but distinguished by their prefix or suffix, depending on how you arrange the hierarchy”
According to Wikidata:
- Q28803: any dish wherein bread serves as a container or wrapper for another food type; not to be confused with Q111836983 (the narrower sense of “sandwich”)
- Q111836983: two pieces of sliced baked bread with filling in between them; not to be confused with Q28803 (the broader sense of “sandwich”)
JA really aligned with these definitions of sandwiches, as if I were to get 2 uncut loads of bread, spread butter on one edge of each, and add a slice of ham, I would have a sandwich.
1 monster sandwich. Yes. I stand by it
Not a very good one I’ll admit
I tried to AI generate such a monstrosity, but failed, so the image i found on Reddit which is close enough will have to do.
TA and JC questioned how the original sandwich was being cut.
“If you cut the sandwich parallel to the slices of bread and filling you end up with two topped slices of bread and no sandwich at all”
LeP was sure that no matter how many cuts, you still had a sandwich, just responding 1, 1, 1, over and over again to my questions, which fell inline with WA.
HD really just wanted to restart the lasagne discussion “It’s two sandwiches as long as one of the two is a lasagna”
RG came up with some great names for divisions, Halfwhich, Quadwich and the lesser known Thirdwich.
Videos in case
In case you want even more sandwich content because your not hungry yet, take a look at these…
Until next time!