I THINK I’VE BEEN MAKING SANDWICHES WRONG MY WHOLE LIFE.

 

sandwich

You know how you go strolling along through life willy nilly without thinking a thing about how you pronounce the word triathalon, only to discover one day, that it’s actually pronounced triathlon? With no second a?

That’s how I felt the day I discovered I’d been making sandwiches wrong my entire life.

I’ve always been pretty confident in the kitchen.  I mean I have an apron, and a chef’s knife and I know how to separate an egg in my fingers so I’m pretty much a chef.  Now that I think of it, one of my aprons actually has the word CHEF right on it so that pretty much cements it.  I’m a chef.

Who doesn’t know how to make a sandwich.

Here’s what I do wrong.

When I make a sandwich I only butter the bottom piece of bread.  Not the top.  So only one slice of bread gets butter.

I HAD NO IDEA THIS WAS WEIRD.

I’ve been told it is very definitely weird..  I shudder to think of the number of people I’ve stood before in my kitchen lovingly preparing them a stacked concoction of lettuce, cheese and meat and bread …. with only one piece of the bread buttered.

I thought you put your “starter” piece of bread on the counter, buttered it, then started stacking the rest of the ingredients.  So, bottom slice of bread, a little bit of butter, pastrami, mustard, salt, pepper, cheese, marshmallows, lettuce, top piece of bread with no butter.  Orrrrr buttered piece of bread, chicken salad, salt, pepper, top piece of bread with no butter.

My whole life I’ve thought you only butter the bottom slice of the bread.  I don’t know for sure but I’d bet I can blame my mother.  It’s because of her that I like to cook chicken breast until it’s the perfect degree of doneness and then cook it an hour and a half more.  (I’m actually learning to get over that)

I’ve had my sandwich making faux pas pointed out to me a few times in the past several years but I’m hoping maybe this is a thing.  That there’s an entire group of us in the world that only butter the bottom piece of bread.  We’re likely an elite crowd of sandwich makers who will be rounded up when the time is right,  save the world one bologna sandwich at at time.  Because a bologna sandwich can make any situation better.  Everybody knows that.  We’re going to save the world we single bread butterers, just you wait and see.

bagel

A toasted poppyseed bagel with sprouts and swiss is pretty good too but it can’t save the future of all mankind like the single bread buttering coalition’s bologna sandwiches could.

O.K.  Lay it on me.

Does ANYONE else out there only butter one piece of the bread?

Who among you is also going to save the world when called upon by the Templar of Toast!

Tell me.  Do you butter both pieces of bread in a sandwich.

Have  a good weekend!

298 Comments

  1. Becky says:

    No butter
    Butter is for toast.

    Mayo only for me. Mayo and mustard for the hubby.

  2. tiffany says:

    Being a Brit I have always buttered both sides of any sarnie, but still add mustard (or chutney) to the meat, salt and pepper to the tomato and mayo (whatever you call it, Miracle Whip is a brand name) on the salad part. I had never met any one who didn’t until I watched my husband make his sandwich with butter on only the bottom slice. What a crazy world we live in, and how different we are, but we all have one thing in common…we love Karen, who can make us laugh and cry in the same post.

  3. Jane C. says:

    I’m Canadian and I put butter on both slices of bread. Then mayo or mustard, depending on the sandwich.

  4. Ev Wilcox says:

    You may be rounded up by an elite bunch of sandwich makers, but it won’t be the happy event you think it will! Not buttering both slices is like a crime in the making! I would have trouble with how I viewed their supposed “chef” skills. A sandwich must be treated with due respect, not just the bottom bread, but BOTH breads! Harrumpf! Well I never, etc.! You can still be a chef if you really must be. It’s OK….

  5. Rhonda "Smartypants" Davis says:

    Wow. Halfway through the comments, I considered tallying the “yays” and “nays” and then decided to do something more valuable with my time. Which is really saying a lot since I’m recovering from very recent knee surgery and restricted to supervised movement only.

    You know that I love ya, Karen, even though you post some ‘off the wall’ topics. Also, I seldom comment negatively because I’m freakin’ in awe of you. So, I’m using my Mother as a scapegoat — ha!

    Mom will unhesitatingly correct anyone about anything because, well, she’s ALWAYS right – she’s also 95 years old and every additional year past her 90th has made her a ‘confirmed’ authority on anything. Who confirmed her? She did, of course! What a silly question!

    So, here’s the truth on your question: butter on both pieces of ‘finger’ or ‘tea’ sandwiches, because they are made ahead and refrigerated for hours and they cannot dry out before the event; butter very thinly spread on both inner slices of PB&J’s; butter is allowed on sammiches to be grilled, but no butter on any other types. She claimed her Grilled PB, Bacon & Sliced Red Onion the Best

    May God bless her pointy little heart! Love ya, Karen

    • Debbe Van Ness says:

      Buttered PB and J? Grilled? So is the outside of the bread grilled? Never heard of either. Not knocking it, sounds yummy, if the butter is on the outside and it’s grilled. As a kid I had a friend whose mom made grilled jelly sandwiches, it was a slice of heaven.

  6. Joe says:

    I can’t believe how much time I am spending reading this discussion on butter on a sandwich. lol

    I was taught to butter both sides. I figured it was to keep the sandwich symmetrical (even though what was in between was not).

    Everything has changed now. I have to go re-think my life…

  7. Heather says:

    I’m beginning to think I’m weird for buttering both pieces of bread, but then I’m English so I’m probably regarded as weird anyway, even though we invented them. Well, Lord Sandwich did. Actually I’m northern English, so we don’t call them sandwiches, we called them butties. You can’t technically have a buttie without butter. Am I rambling? I’m rambling aren’t I?

  8. Lesley says:

    In UK I’m pretty darned sure we butter both sides (unless on a diet). If we want mayo, that goes on top of the butter. Both sides with the butter, top side with the mayo .

  9. cindy says:

    I’m laughing at all the replies. No butter here unless on a Peanut Butter sandwich, one side only. Otherwise, it’s mayo or mustard on one slice. Grew up on US side of Lake Erie.

  10. Tara says:

    Regular smear of butter or mayo on the bottom bread and then a very light smear of butter or mayo on the top piece here.

  11. Teresa Jennings Richardson says:

    I only butter the bread if I’m making a grill cheese sandwich in my cast iron skillet. I butter the bottom of the bottom piece of bread so that the butter side goes into the hot skillet, put on the cheese, then the top slice of bread and butter the outside top of it while the bottom slice is toasting and melting the cheese. I flip the sandwich once the bottom is perfectly browned and let the top toast. Serve with a dill pickle spear or bowl of tomato soup or homemade beef and veggie soup. Sounds so good I might do this for supper tonight.

  12. Cred says:

    Funny the things you never think about but now start questioning. Did a quick google search, and while I’m not sure how reliable popsugar is for historical research, the topic of buttering sandwich is discussed here
    http://www.popsugar.com/food/Origins-Butter-Sandwiches-14968176
    It suggests that it was an early American/British thing perhaps useful to hold the bread of the day together, as it was far more crumbly. The taste for butter on sammies likely remained after bread improved. Makes me wonder if the popularity of margarine (bleeech) is the reason that buttering sandwiches went out of fashion.

  13. Cred says:

    Yes, butter both sides is how I learned to do it; and others I’ve see make sandwiches since I’ve never seen anyone butter just one. And I assumed that those who don’t butter are watching calories. Didn’t know there was a Canadian style and an American style.

  14. Cathy says:

    Another TAODS fan in the no-butter camp. Catsup for meatloaf, mustard/mayo for most everything else .

  15. Jody says:

    I’m gob-smacked at the variety of responses but mostly surprised people don’t put butter on a sandwich at all. I butter both top and bottom and if extras like mustard or mayo are needed they go in the middle squished between the other layers of the sandwich.

  16. nancy says:

    Never have I buttered bread for a sandwich. Weird. My MIL always buttered both sides. But she’s a Betty Crocker aficionado so I always blamed it on that. You know, white bread and plastic cheese. My family was a homemade whole wheat, home ground peanut butter, cheddar with red wax on it type. You have no idea how strange this was in the Deep South in the early 60s. Oh, how I suffered. My most secret and delicious treat as a kid was a piece of that soft white store bought bread spread thickly with margarine and sprinkled heavily with white sugar. If you could get away with it, you would let it sit for an hour and the sugar would melt sortof into the margarine and get a little crust. De-Vine!

  17. Patty says:

    Life is too short…butter both sides! Yum! Butter! I grew up with butter on both sides. Yea, California!

  18. Cristine says:

    Hoo boy. I have never used butter. But, I know people
    who do and have seen butter on both sides and
    single sides. imho. All are good!

  19. tracij says:

    Chiming in to say I only put butter on a grilled sandwich. I am terribly un-American (or so I’m told) because I do not like peanut butter. When I was a kid, I did eat butter and jam sandwiches because my mom thought there was something wrong with only jam on bread as a sandwich. I haven’t eaten those since I was little though. I also don’t like mayo. I use mustard, preferably something fancy like spicy brown or dijon. I also love a good horseradish sauce. I always squirt the mustard or horseradish sauce on one side of the bread in a spiral pattern then pat the two slices of bread together so that it’s even on both sides. Then I take them apart and add the toppings. Maybe I’m the weird one…

  20. I used to butter and only one side but I’m of the mayo and mustard elite now, both sides, however, I could switch hit if the world needed saving.

  21. Linda says:

    Butter both sides, of course. Never margarine.

  22. Jennie Lee says:

    I hate to sound dictatorial, but…I never butter a sandwich. Even with grilled cheese, the butter goes in the pan, not inside the sandwich. I don’t like mayo. People ask if my sandwich isn’t too dry without mayo. No. That’s what tomato is for. Mustard should be so spicy it gives you that funny sensation in your nose. Pickles must be crunchy garlic dills. And the triathlon thing; it’s just like athlete or athletic. It’s not athalete or athaletic. As for the dictionary accepting triathalon; it’s just another example of them dumbing down the language. (This is NOT meant as an insult.) I’ll be 63 on Monday, and bit by bit, through my life, I’ve seen the authorities on the English language give ground over and over to those who just refuse to follow the rules. It’s like, once a certain percentage of the population misspells or mispronounces or misuses a word, they throw up their hands, and say, “Oh, all right then! Have it your way!” I feel like the changes usually make our language less rich; less beautiful. It makes me sad.

    • Dana DeLarme says:

      Oh how scandalized the responses to buttered bread sandwiches! Butter is a creamy rich barrier that protects the bread from becoming soggy. Although I didn’t grow up with buttered bread sandwiches, I have read about it in a peripheral way. Characters in books gathering for English tea with cucumber and butter sandwiches, crust cut away for a more canape-like, high-brow offering.
      This in no way indicates that I partook in such rituals; having been raised on Velveeta and Miracle Whip or Brunswick liver “pate” and Miracle Whip sandwiches. So I’m not flaunting a discerning palate, just a precedent for the buttered bread mavericks. Unsurprisingly, I enjoy odd sandwiches now; grilled cheese with a slather of strawberry preserves, tuna buttwiches, (chewy French loaf ends hollowed out and filled with tuna or chicken salad), cold spaghetti mixed with vinaigrette on bread…, you get the picture.
      Although I’ve cut most ties with my modest Miracle Whip upbringing, I still like a teaspoon in mayonnaise based salads to cut the monotony of the mayo.

    • Dana DeLarme says:

      But natheles, 20 whyl I have tyme and space, 35
      Er that I ferther in this tale pace, 21
      Me thinketh it acordaunt to resoun,
      To telle yew al the condicioun 22
      Of ech of hem, so as it semed me,
      And whiche 23 they weren, and of what degree; 40
      And eek in what array that they were inne:

      Language is a fluid, dynamic, and slippery thing. I understand clinging to iron-clad rules that were drilled into us by teachers and English texts. But language is intended as a communication tool that is, of course, a construct of myriad cultures, societal tastes, technological advances, and every young generational groups’ desire to roll new phrases off their tongues to confound their parents and elders.
      So stop feeling sad. Language has never been an immutable, pristine law. Word:)

  23. jainegayer says:

    Butter??? Mayo or mustard, or Miracle Whip- both sides.

  24. Suzanne says:

    Only one side is plenty butter! The other side is mustard and mayo. My only rule is that any green ( lettuce, watercress, arugula etc is on the side of the mustard mayo)

  25. I wonder if how we make our sandwiches comes more from how our mom’s did it than it does where we live? I live in northern MN and my mom always buttered both slices of bread. I think she must have been a dairy farmer in a past life since she throws sticks of butter into everything she cooks.
    I, on the other hand, use it very sparingly. PB&J…no butter. Any sandwich that will have mayo or mustard or another kind of condiment…no butter and usually just the top slice of bread will have it. Unless it is a salami or Bologna sandwich…then each slice of bread gets butter and usually nothing else. For me it is a matter of “wasted calories” if you are going to have something on your sandwich that will overtake the taste of the butter!
    Speaking of butter, do you leave yours out or do you always refrigerate it? I always leave mine out (1 stick in a covered butter dish) because my mom always left her’s out!

  26. Jenny Brandon says:

    Sweetheart, buttering a sandwich on the inside is weird. You butter the outside when you grill it, otherwise no butter – mayo, mustard yes. butter no

    Weirdo.

  27. Ellen says:

    Canadian here. Buttering depends on the kind of sandwich, taste preferences, and if it has to be taken with you & eaten later. A peanut butter & anything sandwich does not need butter. A jam sandwich must have it on both slices. A cheese sandwich needs lots of butter, on both slices. Anything you are eating right away can be buttered or not on as many sides as you like. All a matter of taste. Anything taken with you needs butter.
    You are different Karen, but that’s part of our proud Canadian mosaic.

    Mayo is ok on some sandwiches, like summer tomato ones.
    Try 2 buttered slices of bread with fresh pepper slices, or cukes, or radishes, and S&P of course. Not mayo. It’s Americans who are weird, not us good ole Canucks!

  28. Mary W says:

    Born and raised in Wisconsin the dairy state. BUTTER on both sides. Butter on my hot dog, not mustard. Butter on my hamburger not all that gloopy mayo, katsup, mustar. Butter on my fresh baked bread or store bought toasted. It just tastes so good. Found out Shoney’s makes a butterburger which is wonderful. Butter in my oatmeal. Butter on toasted pound cake. Butter makes anything better. Everyone asks what I want on my hot dog but can’t supply butter since fast food places don’t have any on hand! BOTH sides? YES, always! But I probably weigh double Karen, also.

  29. Sondra says:

    What a chuckle to read….differences, or tastes, that make the world go round! Toast or sandwich who cares what is supposed to go on it! Slather on whatever you like and munch down! I happen to like Chipotle Mayo with most everything, except with my jam of course, but will butter slices of bread for a turkey sandwich with lettuce/sprouts and lots of salt/pepper and a big glass of buttermilk. Now that’s yummy!

  30. Agnes says:

    Karen, I grew up eating “sandwiches” made from un-toasted white hotdog buns with only honey and butter inside. Now how weird is that?

    Now that I’m a grown-up sandwich-maker I will go the Hellman’s Mayo route, and yes, I slather up both pieces of bread.

    My weird sandwich days are behind me.

  31. Michelle H says:

    Married a Brit and discovered that they don’t do the mayo thing like Americans. They start with buttering both slices and put a small amount of meat/cheese. Their sandwiches are very small compared to our dagwood ones. Visiting family over the pond, discovered how delicious a sandwich with both slices buttered and only some good sharp grated cheese in it, yum!

  32. Kris says:

    I am now going to have to try buttering my sandwiches. I’m from Louisiana, and the only condiments I’ve ever added to a savory sandwich is mustard, mayonnaise or “salad dressing” (I don’t know why it’s called that, it looks exactly like mayo, and I would never put it on a salad,) and ketchup (for hot dogs in a sandwich, when I’ve forgotten to buy hot dog buns.)

    I mean, I used to butter grilled cheese sandwiches in order to grill them, until I got wise and started using croissants – which helps me skip the butter step since they are naturally very buttery.

  33. Shannon says:

    Dad always buttered the jam side of his pb&j. My sister and I just knew he was crazy even at a young age. But as a barrier! Now that is sensible. I’ve never considered it. Also, no second “a” in triathlon? I’ve learned two things before my first cup of coffee. Thanks for helping me avoid dripping jam disaster while holding a misspelled sign cheering on crazy people.

  34. Barb says:

    The only time I butter the bread is when making grilled cheese…and then the buttered sides go on the “outside”! Each to their own but I might just try making a sandwich your way. You made me curious!

  35. Other Karen says:

    Yep .. I have ALWAYS made sandwiches this way, and have always thought it was weird that not everyone did it! Butter bottom, butter top, and then start layering in the fillings, condiments, etc. Butter makes EVERYTHING better! (And yes, I’m a Canadian who grew up in the 60’s!)

  36. Patty says:

    Yes, butter on only the bottom as that is the starting point, and then you build up the layers. And I thought it may be butter on everything because my dad grew up on a dairy farm so butter was readily available always. He was Irish and even put butter on corned beef sandwiches. Mustard was only used as an ingredient in say potato salad or deviled egg filling or to glaze a ham with brown sugar. And mayo was only to be used in tuna salad or egg salad. Funny. I didn’t know there was a “right” way to make a sandwich. Love your blog! Great minds think alike. 🙂

  37. Ronda says:

    I, too, only butter the bottom side just below the mustard. Then pile on the meat, and cheese. The veggies go on top of that, just below the “mayoed” (made that word up, but YOU know what I mean) top piece of bread with NO butter. I don’t know where you got your information, Karen, but I truly believe YOU have been doing it CORRECTLY your entire life. ‘Cause I KNOW I HAVE! LOL! But then, I’m form the states. BTW, I absolutely LOVE your blog!!! The only one I follow.

  38. Eileen says:

    um…only one slice of bread for open-face sandwiches, problem solved! The condiment(s) depends on the “content.”

  39. Sonja says:

    I’m totally with the “BUTTER????!!!????” crowd.

  40. Allie says:

    I lightly butter the top, but make the sandwich upside down and flip it over when I’m done. Ie: bread, butter, cheese, tomato, lettuce, meat, bread, flip.
    I also eat bologna sandwiches with ketchup, so I’m pretty sure mum went wrong with me somewhere.

  41. Gretchen Sexton says:

    Prepare yourself: I don’t butter bread on sandwiches. Ever. Never have. I have used spreads, hummus, mustard, and pesto. But no butter. No one in my house does either. And my mom didn’t. Don’t get me wrong–I’ve had sandwiches with butter and I like them fine. It’s just not what I do. I guess that makes us weird. But I’m OK with that. BTW–your sandwiches look delectable.

  42. Cynna says:

    Freshly cured ham, butter on one side, Dijon mustard on the other, between warm French bread. Heaven….

  43. Rebecca says:

    I don’t put butter on my sandwiches but I do only put whatever condiment (mayo, hummus, mustard, etc.) I use on one piece of bread.

  44. Robin says:

    No butter for me! Mustard, all varieties are acceptable. Rarely Mayo, but if I do, it has to be Hellman’s. None of that Miracle Whip s***! My mother always buttered our sandwiches until I was old enough to say “hey, stop putting butter on my sandwiches, it’s gross!” I have always been a mustard girl even going to the extreme, for a short period of time in my adolescent years, of mustard only on my bread. Sounds horrible to me now, but I liked it then. I have even converted my man to being a “mustard guy.” His parents did not even have mustard in their condiment selection until I started asking for it on “hamburger night” ….that’s when I converted him! 33 years now he has enjoyed butter-less, mustard enhanced sandwiches (and burgers). Butter does though belong on a toasted bagel, homemade biscuit or fresh out the oven bread! YUM!!!

  45. Allison says:

    We don’t use butter on any sandwiches unless we are making a grilled cheese. In that case, we melt the butter in the pan to keep from tearing up the bread.

    A PB&J has only PB&J on it, PB on one side and J on the other.

    Any other sandwich with condiments like mayo, mustard, or bbq sauce (yes, I’m Texan) usually just has the condiment on one piece of bread. If multiple condiments are used, then one goes on one slice and the other goes on another.

    Best sandwich ever: Grilled cheese with bacon and candied jalapenos.
    2nd best sandwich ever: Turkey, brie and raspberry or strawberry jam.

  46. Ruth says:

    I know many people who do NOT butter their sandwiches. I am not one of them. I butter both top and bottom slices lightly to prevent soggy bread. Mayo is one of the culprits that make it soggy btw

  47. Sharon Whiting says:

    You butter both pieces of bread in order to keep your sandwich from getting soggy in your packed lunch. Nothing worse than opening your lunch to find that the bread is soggy from the tomato slice, lettuce, or wet condiments like mustard or mayo.
    If your sandwich is for immediate consumption you don’t need butter at all.
    At least that’s the way it works in my house.

  48. Karen says:

    Butter?! What? I have NEVER heard of such a thing. Unless, of course, you are making a grilled cheese. Then butter galore!

  49. Laurie says:

    No butter. No condiments whatsoever. Now that’s weird and I know it.

  50. Anna Starner says:

    I guess I just like to complicate things. I use butter (just a little) on both sides on some sandwiches and mayo on BLT one side, butter on the other. Dry bread for any of the ham, egg, tuna salad type sandwiches. Butter for grilled cheese and after it is all warm and melted I pull it apart and add mustard(do not grill with mustard on). Yuck! No butter on PB&J unless it is on toast, MUST have butter on toast. I prefer mine toasted. I also love peanut butter and sliced banana on a wrap. When you say sugar on toast or bread do you mean cinnamon and sugar? Love toast with butter, cinnamon and sugar. What a smorgasbord of ways to make a little old sandwich. To think we just spent all this time thinking about how to instead of just going and making one.

    Hope everyone has a great sandwich for lunch made your favorite way!

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