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The Great Hadean Christmas Sandwich-off

Mark Wright
Dec 20, 2018 11:15:59 AM

The calendar has rolled over to December which means we can all start talking about Christmas without a shred of guilt. It also means we can start eating like it’s Christmas, or at least getting some solid practice in. Now that doesn’t (necessarily) mean that it’s all about quantity - it means you can start eating things that at other times of year would be weird, or simply not available. Have you ever tried to find a pack of mince pies in June?

We’re quite a foody bunch here at Hadean, and as a result there’s been a fair amount of talk in the office about which Christmas sandwich is the best (I confess, there may have been some sampling in November…), with some strong opinions. Before things got out of hand we realised there was only one way to solve this - SCIENCE! And the ‘Hadean Great British Christmas Sandwich-off’ was born

The Methodology

Most people already had a go-to festive sandwich and so, to prevent any bias, we decided that this was going to be a blind taste test. It also had to represent a bit of an economic and cultural spectrum.

We also decided that if we’re going to have a taste test that gives us the ‘best’ sandwich then we need to be able to buy that sandwich in future and it had to be available to more than just us - friends, family and anyone reading this had to be able to buy it. Unfortunately that ruled out any of our local sandwich shops.

The weather in London’s been a little ‘damp’ lately so we didn’t want to venture too far from the office, but a quick brainstorm of sandwich purveyors gave us a list of nine: Boots, Eat, Greggs, M&S, Pret, Sainsburys, Starbucks, Tesco, Waitrose. With that list we figured we were covering a good range of convenience, price and quality.

Like any good science experiment, we needed to know what we were testing for - a set of criteria to judge these bready morsels. But with nine sandwiches in the running we had to keep it brief and to the point. In the end it was obvious. What are sandwiches made of? Bread and filling - we’ll rate those. What type is sandwiches are they? Christmassy ones - we’ll rate that too. Finally we’ll have some sort of overall rating and then we’ll plug the numbers into a spreadsheet, do some maths and ‘hey presto’ we’ll have a winner.

Everyone was allocated a sandwich to buy from each establishment, thrice. We needed volume if everyone was going to be able to take part; 27 packs of sandwiches later and we were ready to start.

IMG_6909


The Experience

We buy around 4,000,000,000 sandwiches a year in the UK; that’s nearly 61 for every man, woman and child (costing £8bn!). I’m not sure how many sandwiches I eat in a year, but it dawned on me that I was going to have to eat nine different sandwiches in one sitting. And so was everyone else.

Tearing them from their cardboard and cellophane prisons, we then chopped them into four pieces, to make sure we had enough for everyone, and put them onto numbered plates. This was beginning to look like a proper experiment. Perhaps we should do it blindfolded…?

IMG_20181203_130326

Four sandwiches in and I was feeling pretty good - some really tasty, Christmassy, bready morsels, and I’d only eaten the same as a usual lunch (each sandwich was cut in half). Then I hit sandwich no. 2. It was filled with some nameless sludge that meant I immediately regretted biting into it. After listening to the mutterings around the room, it was clear that everyone else had had a similar experience. I’ll leave the reader to work out which sandwich it was from the results…

There was no giving up now, time to push through, record results and crown a winner.

The Results

After gathering everyone’s scoring sheets it was time to plug some numbers in and work out the Greatest Christmas Sandwich in Britain (or at least within walking distance of Hadean HQ).


Pos.

Brand

Name

kcal

Price

Bread

Filling

Xmas

Overall

Total

£/score

kcals/score

1

Eat

Festive Full Works Bloomer

614

£3.99

4.09

4.18

4.36

4.41

4.26

0.94

144

2

Pret

Christmas Lunch Baguette

699

£4.25

4.27

4.18

3.82

4.32

4.15

1.02

169

3

Waitrose

Christmas edition turkey sandwich

459

£3.20

2.82

3.45

3.82

3.64

3.43

0.93

134

4

M&S

Turkey & Pigs in Blankets

502

£3.00

3.09

3.36

3.64

3.36

3.36

0.89

149

5

Tesco

Turkey & Trimmings

476

£2.50

2.82

3.09

3.36

3.32

3.15

0.79

151

6

Greggs

Christmas Lunch

495

£2.70

2.27

3.27

2.73

2.73

2.75

0.98

180

7

Sainsburys

Christmas Turkey with Pigs Under Blankets

522

£2.40

2.55

2.36

2.73

2.55

2.55

0.94

205

8

Starbucks

Turkey Feast Panini

454

£4.25

2.73

2.55

1.82

2.64

2.43

1.75

187

9

Boots

Turkey & Stuffing

320

£1.50

1.55

1.09

0.64

1.00

1.07

1.40

300

 

With one sheet left to enter we had two sandwiches head and shoulders above the rest, but tied on average overall and total scores - Eat and Pret. In the end the Eat sandwich just nudged ahead;  its combination of good bread, really tasty filling and Christmassy-ness gave it the top spot - the Pret baguette just wasn’t quite Christmassy enough.

Interestingly they were also the two sandwiches with the most calories, both well over 600. To put that in perspective, if you were buying lunch from McDonalds instead, a Big Mac would ‘only’ be 508 kcals...but wouldn’t be nearly as Christmassy. So if you want that festive feeling, but you’re thinking that your waistline is already going to be in trouble come the new year, our third pick, the sandwich from Waitrose, is the one to go for. Not only did it pick up the bronze, it also had the fewest calories per total ‘score’.

Our top two sandwiches were also two of the three most expensive, but it looks like you really do get what you pay for - there’s a strong correlation between price and total score. However, if you’re already wondering how you’re going to make it pay day in January, Tesco will help you out - their sandwich has the best ‘bang’ (total score) for the ‘buck’ (pound sterling).

Until next year...

Merry Christmas from everyone at Hadean.

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