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There's too much tuna in my tuna sandwich!

By Keith Shaw
Secretary of Snacks

How Dagwood's Deli ruined a potentially good tuna sandwich

For those who know me, you probably already know that I can be a particularly picky eater. If you don't know me, trust me, I'm picky.

When it comes to lunch, there's one universal truth I've discovered. Unfortunately, when I tell people this, they usually just laugh it off as me being picky me. Judge for yourself.

There is such a thing as having "too much tuna" in a tuna sandwich.

How'd I come up with that? Let's jump in the Wayback Machine to 1993, when I worked in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, where Dagwood's Deli was one of the lunch spots in the awful downtown area. One day I ordered a tuna sandwich there.

Now, with a name like Dagwood's, you would expect the sandwiches to be big. If you don't know why, check out the comics page. But despite this, I still felt that Dagwood's put "too much tuna in my tuna sandwich."

Others found this statement hilarious, of course. They made fun of me for saying it, and they've endlessly repeated it — even to this day.

But let's get back to my real point here. For some reason, sandwich establishments feel that they are doing the patron a favor by putting more tuna (or chicken salad) in the sandwich than is practically and logically necessary. While putting extra fixings (or fixin's if you're at a Roy Rogers) on a sandwich may be OK for ham, turkey or roast beef, adding extra tuna to the tuna sandwich is not a good thing. Why? Because there needs to be an appropriate ratio of bread to tuna. Going over this ratio means that you risk the chance of taking a bite that's mostly tuna.

With that in mind, I believe that the amount of tuna on tuna sandwich must not exceed 33% of the entire sandwich. If you count a slice of bread as 33%, then a regular tuna sandwich would be 67% bread, and 33% tuna. Going under that ratio is good too, as the more bread you have the better the sandwich will be.

Well, what about other fixings, such as lettuce, onions, etc.? Do the fixings add or subtract to the ratio of tuna to bread? This point can be a point of debate. I think you should add the fixings total to the tuna total, so that if you add fixings to a sandwich, the total of the fixings should equal 33% of the sandwich. In this case, adding fixings to a tuna sandwich would mean that you would have less tuna than a plain sandwich, which is fine in my case (remember, too much tuna in your tuna sandwich is a bad thing).

But some would argue that if you add the fixings total to the bread part, you could still maintain a 33% tuna to ROS (rest of sandwich) ratio. Let's check the math:

Regular tuna sandwich (two pieces of bread and tuna): 10 oz. bread slice, 10 oz. tuna, 10 oz. bread slice.

Now, if you add some lettuce and onions (6 oz.), you have two choices. To keep the original 33% tuna ratio, you would need to add tuna to bring it to this total: 10 oz. bread, 6 oz. fixings, 10 oz. bread, 13 oz. tuna (13 oz. is 33% of 39 oz. total). Or if you prefer the other theory, you would reduce the tuna by 6 oz. and maintain a 2/3 bread, 1/3 fixings ratio (10 oz. bread, 6 oz. fixings, 4 oz. tuna, 10 oz. bread).

If all this stuff hurts your head, just stick to the regular sandwich.

Don't even get me started about whether celery and onions inside the tuna salad mix constitute themselves as fixings or part of the tuna ...

Anyway, that's my rant about too much tuna. I know others agree with me, but perhaps they're too afraid of speaking out on the issue because of the powerful Tuna lobby. But I will not be silenced.

So if you see me at a restaurant with a plastic spoon scooping out the extra tuna from my sandwich, just throw me a thumbs up to show that you agree with my position. Restaurants: Go lighter on the tuna!