Jimmy John's vs Which Wich: BLT Bash

We don't know just who invented the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. It certainly wasn't the Earl of Sandwich, reputed to be the first to put his meat...um, that went wrong somewhere... to put meat between two slices of bread (even though the Greeks had this thing called pita).

First there were basic tomato sandwiches and bacon sandwiches. Then a layering of bacon and lettuce. The BLT became a staple menu item at American diners in the 1930s, so the classic arrangement--including mayonnaise and toasted white bread--probably first appeared five or ten years earlier.

We'll probably never find out. Yet we owe a debt to its creator, for this is what any sandwich aspires to be: simple, yet densely flavored, with sweet-tart fruit underscoring the crunch of smoked bacon, the who rounded out by mayo. Perfect.

Well, it should be perfect. Sometimes people mess it up, adding avocado or other unnecessary ingredients, for example.

So the question in this toque to toque match up is whether either of these sandwich chains messed up.

And the answer, of course, is yes--though not a resounding yes.

Both use pre-cooked meat, but considering the quick-service concept there's no real way around that. Jimmy John's, however, misses the point. The BLT is about bacon, with lettuce and tomato in supporting roles. They, however, layer the ingredients inside a fat, torpedo-shaped sub bun--making bread the dominant element.

Which Wich wisely sticks to a thin, crispy style of bread. They trip up by crumbling the bacon before piling it in. Guests, therefore, miss out on that satisfying crunch of a thoroughly fried strip. And they use so much of this crumbled mess, you can barely discern the lettuce and tomato. There's little counterbalance to the smoky taste.

On the other hand, using a lot of bacon is never a bad thing.

This one is clear-cut, then. Jimmy John's serves up a BLT that seems creamy--almost doughy--thanks to the bun.

Which Wich throws a heaping handful of bacon bits at you--not quite the right idea, but at least its in the right direction. And that allows them to coast to victory.

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Dave Faries
Contact: Dave Faries