What Is California's Sandwich? The Fast Food Burger Takes On the Veggie Sandwich

What is the ultimate California sandwich? When we posed the question to the Cali natives in GOOD's offices, we nearly tore the staff apart.

What is the ultimate California sandwich? When we posed the question to the Cali natives in GOOD's offices, we nearly tore the staff apart. California is a sprawling state with impressive geographical and cultural diversity. It also boasts a mean North-South rivalry, which lies at the center of this debate.

I expected the sandwich question to spark a heated discussion between crunchy NoCal and chill SoCal. But the face-off has developed a bizarre wrinkle: GOOD community manager Hillary Newman, who hails from Los Angeles, favors the veggie sandwich so closely aligned with the hippies of the northern half of the state. Meanwhile, managing editor Megan Greenwell, who spent her high school years in Berkeley, advocates for the southern California staple, the fast food hamburger. Newman even name-checks Berkeley in her defense of the veggie sammy. “Between the acres upon acres of farmland, growing bounties of fresh produce (avocado, anyone?) and the inception of the local food movement inspired by chef Alice Waters in Berkeley, California, it's clear that the veggie sandwich belongs here," Newman says. Greenwell swats down that hippie nonsense: “long before the Golden State became the epicenter of veganism, raw foodism, fruitarianism, and dozens of other invented hippie diets, it was home to fast-food hamburgers," she says.

Since filing their competing nominations for California's official state sandwich, shit has gotten real between Newman and Greenwell. Essays have been penned; no-charts have been designed; at one point deep in the debate, Greenwell and Newman both rose from their chairs and gesticulated at one another. Things are starting to get pretty scary inside the GOOD offices come lunchtime. It's time to resolve this rift once and for all. Office taste test!

In one corner we have Newman's pick, Urth Caffe's organic sprout sandwich with alfalfa sprouts, Jarlsberg swiss cheese, red onion, Roma tomatoes, avocado, and hummus on sprouted bread. In the other: Greenwell's In-N-Out cheeseburger with beef patty, lettuce, tomato, spread, American cheese and grilled onions on a baked bun. After a recent lunch hour sampling, an impartial jury of GOOD employees weighed in on the sandwich week faceoff:

"I usually differentiate a burger from a sandwich." "I didn't realize it until afterwards, but I usually differentiate a burger from a sandwich," GOOD designer Jessica De Jesus weighs in. "Subconsciously, while I was enjoying the In-N-Out burger, the avocado sprout sandwich still won my vote without having to taste it." She adds: When I finally did eat the wheat bread, avocado, sprout sandwich with a side of greens, it was cold and super fresh ... The local and organic factor seems so California, and that's what drove it home for me."

"I'd rather dream than bite hype." "If for you California represents intense displeasure followed by mild enjoyment, then sure, the avocado-sprout-wheat-hummus sandwich is the winner," GOOD senior editorial designer Dylan C. Lathrop says. "But if California is a place where immediate satisfaction is key, and you want to get comfortable with new people, then the humble fast food burger is the clear winner. I tend to find myself siding with the burger, if for no other reason than I feel it's the meeting point of high standards and low brows ... If you go to Urth Cafe, you aren't going to mingle with skater kids and club goers pre-gaming in the parking lot. You're more likely to meet extras from Entourage (RIP) there, mingling about with their primed Ray-Bans and munching their crunchy sprout sammies." Eating In-N-Out "is like living the dream," Lathrop continues. "One bite, and everything becomes possible. One bite of a $13 sandwich relying heavily on sprouts and hummus makes you believe hype is possible, because that's all that lies between those two pieces of artisan wheat bread. I'd rather dream than bite hype. But I'm from Wyoming, what do I know?"

"No contest for the burger." "In-N-Out tasted fantastic. No shocker there," GOOD's Wylie Overstreet says. "It is, however, a quintessentially southern Californian institution—there are even palm trees on the bag—and remains associated as such even as the brand expands. The veggie sprout had surprisingly good taste for what it was, but was unsurprisingly no contest for the burger. However, this sandwich embodies the essence of California cuisine—reimagining a traditional food with that veggie, organic, local, freshly-prepared twist. So, very reluctantly, I vote for this sandwich."

"California is about self-renewal and self-improvement." "Partisans for the fast food burger cry out that it is truly the iconic California sandwich, establishing itself as mainstay from the jukebox joints in the era of American Graffiti to today's California culture standard-bearer, Best Coast. The fast food burger speaks to the superficiality, the hedonism, the live-for-the-moment spirit that defines the state in the popular imagination," GOOD business editor and American Sandwich Expert Tim Fernholz posits. "And yet when that short-term pleasure wears off and the food coma sets in, California is also all about self-renewal and self-improvement, finding some way to erase what came before (grease and cholesterol) and build something better." For Fernholz, "It comes down to this distinction: Fast food burgers have spread around the country and the globe. You can get a greasy burger anywhere and revel in commodified American deliciousness. What sets California apart is the idea that at your next meal you can totally change your approach to eating and find some measure of redemption in organic veggies and lifestyle choices."

"It costs $13." My two cents: If a sandwich is to truly represent the state of California, it should be accessible to all of us. The sprout sandwich, while delicious, costs $13. That's about 10 times the cost of an In-N-Out burger, also delicious. I realize I'm selling out the vegetarian contingent with thi

s calculation, but the numbers don't lie: One sprout sandwich could conceivably feed 10 Californians once, or me 10 times. The fast food burger is the only responsible choice.

"I instantly envisioned avocados." "In-N-Out burgers always scream SoCal to me because, as a Californian, it's my favorite burger. But when I think of something uniquely Californian I think of freshness," GOOD designer Kate Slovin says. "I instantly envisioned avocados and tomatoes, maybe some sprouts, maybe in a pita. When presented with all of the above with onions, swiss cheese and on a wheat bun, it's needless to say I wasn't surprised. It was tasty with the creamy avocados mixed with the freshness of sprouts. Fresh, cool and healthy, the exact opposite of In-N-Out. Don't get me wrong, I love In-N-Out, but the sandwich from Urth Cafe takes the (vegan, gluten-free) cake."

Sorry, Greenwell: The veggie sandwich wins in a landslide.

Disclaimer: These highly scientific results have been skewed by the sandwich preferences of the GOOD offices (many staff members were disqualified entirely on the basis of their vegetarianism, preventing them from sampling both sammies). What's your personal pick for California's ultimate sammy? Start your own sandwich wars in the comments.

via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

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via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

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Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

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For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

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In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

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In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

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The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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