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Do Places Make Smaller Sandwiches For Women?

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Oct 19, 2015

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player or iTunes/Podcasts app. (And please subscribe!)

Introduction

How much do we really know about the hearts and minds of sandwich makers? Are some of their creations endowed with MORE meat and cheese than others?

The question in the title of this week's episode comes from an inquisitive Sporkful listener -- Bill from California. He called in to ask us to investigate whether sandwich makers make smaller sandwiches for women, consciously or not.

In other words: does equal pay yield equal pastrami?

PastramiSandwich_BionicGirl

Methods

This week on The Sporkful, I set off on a mission around New York City with my friend Laura "L.V." Anderson from Slate. She and I buy a bunch of sandwiches, weigh them, and crunch the numbers to see if the sandwiches made for her are smaller than the ones made for me.

(Actually, my friend Lauren Hale, a researcher at Stony Brook University, crunched our sandwich stats -- better to leave the fancy math to the experts!)

We carefully selected four places where the sandwich maker also takes your order. Laura and I went into each place, one after the other, and ordered the same sandwich from the same sandwich maker. Then we took our twin sandwiches back to WNYC and weighed them on the mail room scale.

torta_m2nemes

Discussion

Eaters, this may sound simple enough -- but there are SO MANY factors to consider in an experiment like this.

Like what if a sandwich maker is unconsciously discriminating against women? Or what if it's not gender that tips the scales of justice, but rather height or race or profession? (Would you bulk up a sandwich for a ballerina -- or a construction worker?) What if the sandwich maker is a woman?

And what about reverse discrimination?? After all, if I were the guy behind a sandwich counter and an attractive woman walked in, I would make her the BIGGEST, most awesome sandwich ever.

As you'll hear in the episode, Laura isn't sold on my theory:

"I just don’t think that sandwich makers are trying to impress people all that often," she points out.

scales_112931986@N07

Conclusions

So is sandwich sexism real? Listen in to the full episode to hear the results of our investigation.

(Did you really think we'd spill the beans here? This is a podcast...not the Journal of the Academy of Sandwich Studies!)

Future Research

Eaters, the experiment isn't over yet! You can contribute to sandwich science by going out your favorite sandwich place with someone of the opposite sex, buying two identical sandwiches at same time of day and made by the same person. (Make sure you weigh them before you take a bite.)

Email me your results, and Professor Hale will crunch the new numbers!

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player or iTunes/Podcasts app. (And please subscribe!)

Connect with me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook!

Works Cited

This show features the song "Let's Make A Sandwich" by the amazing Two Man Gentleman Band.

Interstitial music in this episode by BWN Music:

- "Scrambloid" by Kenneth J. Brahmstedt

- "Hip Hop Slidester" by Steve Pierson

- "Can You Dig It" by Cullen Fitzpatrick

- "Midnight Grind" by Cullen Fitzpatrick

- "Private Detective" by Cullen Fitzpatrick

Photos: FlickrCC/jeffreyww, FlickrCC/donkeyhotey, FlickrCC/bionicgrrrl, FlickrCC/Maria-Marta Nemes

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