Sunday, November 12, 2006

When is a burrito a sandwich?

Originally uploaded by Johnny Huh.
A burrito is a sandwich when you don't want any competition for your business. Panera Bread Company, a bakery-and-cafe chain, would have us believe that a burrito is a type of sandwich. At least, that is what attorneys for Panera have been arguing in court.
Panera has a clause in its lease that prevents the White City Shopping Center in Shrewsbury from renting to another sandwich shop. Panera tried to invoke that clause to stop the opening of an Qdoba Mexican Grill.

But Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke cited Webster's Dictionary as well as testimony from a chef and a former high-ranking federal agriculture official in ruling that Qdoba's burritos and other offerings are not sandwiches.

The difference, the judge ruled, comes down to two slices of bread versus one tortilla.

"A sandwich is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos and quesadillas, which are typically made with a single tortilla and stuffed with a choice filling of meat, rice, and beans," Locke wrote in a decision released last week.
Panera's website statesWith the skill of an artisan, the heat of the oven and a few fine ingredients, our bakers make bread that is simply delicious — and baked fresh in our ovens every day. I'll be tortillas have never touched a Panera's oven.

Said one chef who testified on behalf of Qdoba, "I know of no chef or culinary historian who would call a burrito a sandwich. Indeed, the notion would be absurd to any credible chef or culinary historian."

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