Manwich sloppy joe mix is basically tomatoes, green pepper, and onions with spices in it. It's been around a long time. I remember it being new and exciting in the 70s. The jingle used at the time was A sandwich is a sandwich, but a Manwich is a meal. Later, in the 80s, the memorable commercial was a bunch of kids marching around singing something about Don't give me no baloney mom, I want a Manwich meal.

Recently, as I'm now cooking food that kids will eat, I rediscovered Manwich. It's convenient in the manner that canned spaghetti sauce is. You can open the can and pour it over most anything and kids will eat it. I am somewhat surprised that the original name has survived however. In the past few months, I've cooked several successful meals (success being measured in the absence of complaining) using Manwich sauce and various meats.

Manwich is not just a commercially produced sauce. Manwich is much more than that.

A Manwich is what Uncle Skip forces you to eat on a family campout after noticing that pitiful hunk-a-meat you're eating, pulling you aside and saying "Kid, that's no hamburger! That's a disgrace to the very concept of the sandwich! That's barely a sammich! When you camp with me, you eat a Manwich."

The Manwich is at the top of a hierarchy of bread-with-stuff-between foods that has just been partially introduced in that quote by Uncle Skip. The full hierarchy, as defined by my family at least, is as follows:

  1. The Sammich*. This is what you give 3-6 year olds for lunch. The generic version consists of peanut butter and jelly. The sammich is not intended to provide a filling meal for the average teenager or adult, and can typically be thrown together in under two minutes and eaten in under five. For anyone with a stomach larger than a small beanie-baby, it is a snack.
    Examples: PB&J, ham and cheese
  2. The Sandwich. This is your everyday lunch-time main course. It is large enough to be satisfying, but not much larger.
    Examples: turkey, tunafish, roast beef
  3. The Hoagie. A hoagie is a sandwich of unusual size which somehow misses being a toasty. Usually they are based on long, narrow, thick peices of bread, such as baguette, but these are more specifically classed as subway sandwich. Note, however, that not all subways are hoagies- if they are too lacking in the filling department, simply being long does not lift them from sandwich, or even sammich, status. An example of a true hoagie is the Subway Club.
  4. The Toasty. If it contains an ingredient that must be warm to taste good, or the bread is actually toasted, it is a toasty. Toasties are usually larger than regular sandwiches, and are suitable for dinner.
    Examples: grilled tuna (eaten it strings or stacks- individuals would only count as sammiches), grilled chicken, BLT, Bacon & Cheese, etc. And, of course, yer average 'burger.
  5. The Manwich. The pinacle of sandwichdom. A Manwich is large enough and yummy enough to qualify as a meal unto itself. To meet the strictest requirements, some say that it must be large enough to require significant bread-crushing and/or jaw dislocation to fit ones mouth around it. A Big Mac with added bacon and a bucket of large fries emptied into it and slathered with extra ketchup is a Manwich. A backyard BBQ hamburger loaded down with double patties, 3 pickles, extra cheese, dirty john sauce, a stack of Doritos, and lettuce is a Manwich. A bacon, turkey, and grilled chicken hoagie with melted mozzarella and shredded iceberg lettuce is a Manwich.
    Some say that Dagwood Bumstead's midnight creations are the epitome of the Manwich. Others, however, myself included, believe that the final test of a Manwich is the spirit in which it is created- Dagwood is most obviously not a true Manly Man, and therefore his creations must be relegated to mere Hoagie status.

In short, a Manwich is the bread-with-stuff-between creation that embodies the Manly-Man Spirit, that makes you think "Now THAT is a sandwich!" when you see it. It is the Platonic ideal of the sandwich. In one sense, it is indefinable- in another, it is the one food item which any American Man can define.

A Manwich is a culinary construction which will be recognized by any American Man, and which will make him proud. Don't get the impression that Manwiches can only be constructed- and I say that purposefully, Manwiches are constructed, not merely 'made'- by Men. Oh, no, I know of many women who equally skilled as my Most Manly Uncles in the art of Manwich building. But these are not girly-girls. These are modern, progressive tomboy-ish girls, who, though they often add a femine touch whose positive effects on the Manwich cannot be denied, are able to effectively capture the masculine spirit which defines the Manwich.

*I am aware that the various other nodes related to sammiches give quite a different impression of them. I can only say that they are a different context. Sammich, like many words, has multiple related definitions. I cannot say which was derived from which, but they are obviously connected in that six-year-olds who eat the sammiches as defined in the Hierarchy of Sandwiches radiate a joy in the eating of their bread-with-stuff-between foods that clearly indicates that, for at least the moment of eating, they must be considered sammiches of the other sense.

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