Kitchenette understands two things above all else: 1) sandwiches are awesome, and 2) people love yelling at me about how wrong I clearly am. Happily for all parties concerned, ranking sandwiches serves both points.
The surest way to tell if someone is secretly a time-traveling Nazi sleeper agent is if they say they don't love sandwiches — time-traveling Nazi sleeper agents HATE sandwiches. So, to fight the Nazis, here are the complete (not even close), definitive (nope, not what that word means), scientifically-based (I have no idea what science is) rankings of every sandwich in existence (there are 36 sandwiches in existence, apparently).
We had to settle on one recipe per sandwich, so (with one notable exception which counts because I'm the one with a website and I say so, dammit), I went with the most traditional/well-known version of each sandwich. After a lot of debate and arguments with people who gave suggestions for this, I decided to include breakfast sandwiches, because a) breakfast sandwiches are delicious, and b) this gives me a chance to get yelled at about #2 not actually being a sandwich (SHUT UP YOU'RE WRONG YES IT IS). If there's something you think is missing, either it's because it was a practical joke rather than an actual sandwich (the Dagwood), because it was a snack food that no sane human would eat for a meal (Cucumber Sandwiches), or because I just straight-up forgot about it like the doofus I clearly am.
Let's do this thing.
36. Ham Salad
Ham, Mayo, Industrial Lubricant, A Burning Hatred For All Mankind
I've already said my piece. Ham Salad makes me want to be an atheist.
35. Toast Sandwich
Toast, Bread*, Butter, That is Literally the Entire Fucking Thing
Holy shit, this is actually a real thing. Just look at this goddamn Wikipedia entry. "Salt and pepper to taste." SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE. I cannot even. How did they not call this a Poverty Sandwich?
34. Anything From Primanti Brothers
Soggy Coleslaw, French Fries on the Fucking Sandwich, Malice, Spite, Hipster Tears
Fuck you, Primanti Brothers.
Marshmallow Fluff, Peanut Butter
Fuck you almost as hard, marshmallows (I am legally obligated to take a potshot at marshmallows in every one of these Rankings posts).
32. Fried Bologna
Fried Bologna, Mustard, American Cheese
Oh come the fuck on. This is basically redneck haute cuisine. At least call it what it is: a Trailer Park Sandwich. I think you're legally required to watch NASCAR and hold a shotgun in your other hand while eating one of these things.**
31. Tuna Melt
Canned Tuna, Mayo, Tomato, American Cheese, Open-Faced
"Hey, you know what would make this giant scoop of Depression-era cat food more delicious? If we slopped it over a tomato and a piece of bread, then melted orange plastic over it. BON APPETIT!"
30. Sloppy Joe
Ground Beef Slurry, Tomato Sauce, Lunchlady Saliva, Kaiser Roll
The first time I had this, it tasted like the literal embodiment of death. I thought I'd just had a bad one, so I tried it again, years later — nope. That's what they're supposed to taste like. It is a death sandwich.
29. Eggplant Parmesan
Eggplant, Marinara Sauce, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Sub Roll
It's great, if you like soggy rubber — a texture which the laws of physics state should not be possible, and yet, here we are. Not so good if tire pieces covered in tomato goop aren't on your to-eat list. You're doing yeoman's work here, cheese, but even you can't make the sadness go away.
Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Mayo
Not even bacon can save this atrocity. What the hell is the point of this fucking thing? I feel confused, unfulfilled, and ripped-off every time I eat one. This isn't a sandwich, this is an edible Terrence Malick film.
Whatever the Hell is Left in the Fridge the Day After Thanksgiving
Any sandwich that's basically the end result of "fuck it, just throw everything in the fridge in a goddamn pile" can fuck right off. Turkey smothered in cranberries and sweet potato casserole sounds like a nightmare from which I could never hope to wake.
Grape Jelly, Creamy Peanut Butter
You're fucking terrible, grape jelly. Even marmalade laughs at you. Creamy peanut butter, meanwhile, is the fumbling, lights-off missionary position of sandwich spreads. You spend the entire time looking at your watch and just waiting for the experience to end.
25. Patty Melt
Hamburger, Grilled Onions, Cheddar Cheese, Rye Bread, Sadness
This is ultimately a cheeseburger fallen on hard times. It's the sandwich version of a Muddy Waters song: it can't get its onions hard any more, its Kaiser roll left it for another sandwich, and its pet pickles died. Also, it is frequently ruined by white people.
24. Banh Mi
Pork Belly, Cilantro, Carrot, Daikon, Motherfucking Head Cheese, Spicy Chili Sauce, Baguette
GAHHHH HEAD CHEESE KILL IT WITH FIRE. This is another sandwich that ranks at least ten spots higher if you rework just one of the ingredients. By the way, head cheese originated in Europe, which means that, as with the Patty Melt, this is another example of us white people ruining something that would otherwise be awesome. Ruining things: it's the white people superpower!
23. Philly Cheesesteak
Thinly-Sliced Steak, Cheese Wiz, Sauteed Onions, Mayo, Sub Roll
If we're including cheesesteaks with anything other than Cheese Wiz, this would easily be top ten, but seeing as this list is only talking about the original versions of each sandwich, I can't in good conscience give it that much credit. I mean, it's Cheese Wiz, for shit's sake — that stuff could be used to caulk shipboard leaks.
22. Italian Sub
Ham, Salami, Cappicola, Provolone Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Italian Dressing, Sub Roll
Men in Blergh.
21. Meatball Sub
Meatballs, Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Sub Roll
There Will Be Blergh.
20. Club Sandwich
Turkey, Ham, Provolone Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Mayo, Frilly Toothpicks (I'm FOR 'em!)
True Blergh/Orange is the New Blergh/Blergh is the Warmest Color.
19. French Dip
Roast Beef, Swiss Cheese, Baguette, Au Jus
I'm so torn with these things, because roast beef is the king of deli meats, baguettes are great, and you can never go wrong with swiss cheese. But every time you dip one of these into the au jus and turn it into a waterlogged lump of edible clinical depression, it drops five spots on the list.
18. Oyster Po Boy
Deep-Fried Oysters, Lettuce, Tomato, Cajun Remoulade, Baguette
Deep-frying oysters definitely reduces their phlegm-like qualities, but it doesn't exactly do much for their taste. Pass.
Sliced Lamb, Onions, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Tzatziki Sauce, Pita
Goddamit, gyros. You know tomatoes fucking ruin everything. You're so amazing without them (easily top five), but we're sticking to the goddamn rules, so I have to put you down here. Just remember: I didn't do this to you, YOU did this to you.
16. Grilled Cheese
Come On, You Know What's in a Fucking Grilled Cheese Sandwich
The above isn't meant as an insult — the joy of grilled cheese is its simplicity. Leaving aside the question of "is it still grilled cheese if you add things like onions/mustard to it" (answer: probably not, but it's delicious), it's difficult to go wrong with a grilled cheese. It's not flashy, but it gets the job done. You might be asking "where's the joke here?" Look, even I can't make fun of grilled cheese — that's like making fun of oxygen.
We've now crossed the plane: everything from this onward is delicious — it's just a question of degrees.
15. Egg Salad
Eggs, Mayo, Salt, Pepper, Dill
Egg Salad is the most maligned sandwich in existence. No matter how many times you say "it smells like feet," it's not going to make me want it less. I'll be over here, eating all of the delicious Gym Feet and Murderous Fart sandwiches, and YOU CAN'T HAVE ANY, SO THERE.
14. Ham and Cheese
Ham, Swiss Cheese, Mustard, Mayo
The hardest part of writing this is getting a joke out of every entry when I love half the things on this list — it is WAY harder to crack wise about positives. Hell, YOU try getting a joke out of a ham and cheese sandwich at 3 AM the night before deadline.
Pork, Ham, ALL THE PIG BITS, Swiss Cheese, Pickles, Mustard, Cuban Bread
Also known as the "time to piss off all the 'pigs are beautiful and intelligent creatures!'" commenters sandwich. Nope, not gonna feel bad — not when this thing is so delicious. I have it on good authority that this is the sandwich vegetarians eat when they're cheating on vegetarianism ("WE ALL FUCKING DO IT"). Hey, she said it, not me. Oink motherfucking oink.
Turkey, Swiss Cheese, Thousand Island, Cole Slaw, Rye Bread
It's also called a Turkey Reuben, but fuck it, we're going with this name. It isn't the Reuben, but it's a solid B+ at worst. See, Primanti's? Cole slaw totally works in a sandwich if your version of it isn't a heap of shredded, oily failure.
11. The Elvis
Banana, Bacon, Peanut Butter, Honey, Pan-Fried Bread
This is the craziest goddamn thing I've ever seen, and I want it in my mouth right now. How the hell was this even invented? Did someone just throw together everything in their fridge at once and it miraculously worked out for the best? Because I've tried that before, and it usually ends with a trip to the ER and the kitchen needing to be completely repainted.
10. Monte Cristo
Ham, Gruyere Cheese, Pan-Fried Bread Soaked in Egg Batter, Holy Crap I Need New Shorts and a Defibrillator
You should probably just pre-emptively dial 9-1-1 before you try to eat the last two entries on this list back-to-back.
Raspberry Preserve, Crunchy Peanut Butter
NOW WE'RE FUCKING TALKING. OK, I broke my rule. Sue me. This version of the PB&J is so much better than the shit grape jelly one that I didn't have a choice. Raspberries make everything better. NO, EVERYTHING, SHUT UP.
8. Chicken Salad
Chicken, Mayo, Celery
Having to make ten pounds of this stuff a day for a month at a Kosher Deli still didn't dim my love for it. I maintain that anyone who makes chicken salad with oil should be serving a sentence in the Hague.
7. Crabcake Sandwich
A Motherfucking Crabcake on a Sandwich
I can't say anything mean here. I love these things so much I can't even take a potshot at Baltimore as part of this entry. Crabcake sandwiches make me a better human being.
Turkey, Bacon, Avocado, Swiss Cheese, Ciabatta
What sorcery is it that allows bacon and avocado to transform turkey, the Bieber of sandwich meats, into something so magnificent? I have no idea, but whatever transmutation spell is making this happen really needs to direct its talents at fixing the economy rather than making sure we have a nice lunch.
5. Lobster Roll
Lobster, Mayo, Scallions, Top-Split Bun
The first time I had one of these, the joy was so intense I passed out for a couple minutes. When I came to, the restaurant was on fire, the wall was covered in mayo, and I was attempting to beat another lobster to death with a baguette. It'd be #1 on this list if not for the effect it had on my arrest record.
4. Pulled Pork BBQ
Pulled Pork, Barbecue Sauce, Cole Slaw, Kaiser Roll
There's basically nothing BBQ sauce can't make delicious. BBQ sauce is flawless. I heard it does car commercials in Japan. Its favorite movie is Varsity Blues. This one time, BBQ sauce punched me in the face — IT WAS AWESOME.
3. Breakfast Bagel
Sausage, Egg, Cheddar Cheese, Bagel
Breakfast sandwiches are the only thing in the world that can get my sorry ass up before 10 AM. Girlfriend brought home an entire box of kittens? Eh, they'll keep. Apartment's on fire? Meh, it'll take care of itself. Alien invasion? I'm sure there's someone to handle that. Whisper the words "breakfast bagel" in my ear, though, and I'm vertical with one foot out the door before I realize I should probably be wearing pants.
2. Bagel w/ Lox and Cream Cheese
Cream Cheese, Nova Lox, Bagel
YES THIS GODDAMN WELL IS A SANDWICH. Anyone wanting to argue as to its sandwich-osity: explain to me how fish + cheese between bread is not a sandwich without resorting to "it's just not!" Go ahead. Take your time. I'll wait...for fucking forever, because you don't have a goddamned answer.
By the way, this top five is simultaneously the most and least Jewish thing ever.
Corned Beef, Swiss Cheese, Thousand Island, Sauerkraut, Rye Bread
As far as I'm concerned, this is the greatest sandwich ever created by man. Have you ever had a well-made Reuben that wasn't satisfying? Everyone underates the Reuben, but when have you ever been dissatisfied with one? There's nothing you could add that could make them better. They are the lords of Sandwichtopia.
*If this looks redundant, click the Wikipedia entry. It is in no way redundant.
**JEZEBEL HATES WHITE PEOPLE! HOW DARE YOU DISCRIMINATE AGAINST DUMB REDNECK MOTHERFUCKERS?! Tell you what, when they stop being responsible for the election of people like Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and literally every Representative from a non-metropolitan area anywhere in the US, I'll lay off on the White Trash jokes.
***A friend insists this is called the Gobbler. However infinite the multiverse, there is no reality in which I'm willing to refer to any sandwich as a "Gobbler."
Image via Nitr/Shutterstock.