An innocent thought turned argument: Chicken fingers = sandwich 


Sophia Liu/Art Director

Naomi Gelfer, Contributing Writer

As an argument-instigator, one question has tested the limits of my friendships time and time again. My first battle over this existential query occurred right before my freshman year between some friends and I, lasting for hours. I entered high school a changed woman, equipped with this stunning question as my weapon of choice whenever a class, meeting with a teacher, or dinner with friends/family seems too peaceful. Lately, I’ve posed this question to various audiences and have been victim to angry pointing fingers, disgusted glares, and naïve, confused stares. Now I come into the public eye, armed with my question: are chicken fingers sandwiches?

First, some points of clarification. I am not addressing chicken fingers that have been “breaded” with buttermilk or cornmeal. I will only be addressing those breaded with bread crumbs or panko. With this in mind, I am just presenting my opposing, inflammatory opinion. 

I must begin by tackling the deceptively elusive question: what is a sandwich? As a loyal and patriotic citizen of the state of New York (NYS), my first instinct is to look to the law. The NYS Department of Taxation and Finance taxes hot dogs and open-faced sandwiches under the classification of “sandwich.” Further, as explained by Neal Fortin, a professor of food law at the Michigan State University, NYS also classifies a burrito as a sandwich because of the singular mass of bread wrapped around its filling. Hopefully, readers of The Record feel an obligation to trust the wisdom of learnéd professors and the state of New York. Thus, I illustrate the fine line between “sandwich” and “non-sandwich”: a sandwich must have any type of bread that is acting as a vessel for its interior filling, but there need not be any limit on the amount of bread.

Having defined the parameters of a sandwich, let’s talk breading. Chicken fingers are commonly   made with bread crumbs, or pulverized bread, which are chemically different from bread’s original chemical composition. These crumbs are toasted, which dries them out, but does not alter their “state of being.” When you toast a piece of bread, it still emerges from the toaster as bread. Therefore, bread crumbs must still be bread, or at least a malleable extension of bread. But, what about Panko? Panko is made up of processed and dried white bread flakes. Just as bread crumbs make up a classic slice of bread, bread crumbs also make up the bread around the chicken filling of a chicken finger, making it a sandwich. Thus, breading must enter the vaunted halls of sandwich-formation to walk amongst titans like the Hot Dog Bun, the Wonder Bread, and the mighty Tortilla.

Still convinced a sandwich requires two distinct pieces of bread? A counterargument: upon an untouched chicken finger, there must always be a traceable line around it, between bread crumbs, so it separates a “top” and “bottom” half of the breading; measurements of distance are continuous (for example, the measurement of distance between bread crumbs), meaning there will always be some region of space arguably separating these “top” and “bottom” breading halves of a chicken finger. Thus, in satisfying multiple schools of thought regarding sandwich doctrine, including the meager “two pieces of bread makes a sandwich” argument, chicken fingers are indisputably sandwiches. 

Under the iron fist of character limits, I cannot go on. As I bestow this intellectual crusade upon the readers of The Record, I must thank my older brother, Ethan Gelfer, for teaching me the value of an engaging argument, as well as a simple truth: to argue > not to argue. My hope today is only to provide logical grounding for the silent majority: those perceptive enough to recognize the truth. Since you’ve read thus far, I’d like to make my end goal clear: I aim to spur such intellectual debates within HM, not limited to questioning whether chicken fingers are sandwiches… At what point does a salad become a soup? Is cereal a soup? Are we alone in the universe? Is the Oxford comma grammatically optional (absolutely not, it’s law)? And, as a subscriber to HM’s core values, I would argue intellectual debates, such as this one, are the ultimate tests of friendship and embodiments of the “Life of the Mind.”