A new study, sponsored by Hellmann's and Best Foods Mayonnaise, suggests that your sandwich choice is not simply about whether you like the taste of tuna or ham, but whether you are uptight and anal or a "universal romantic."
The study was conducted by the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation and required their 2,747 participants to fill out a series of personality tests before asking them choose from eight different sandwiches. The researchers then matched up the personality types with the various lunch orders, and found that most tuna salad-lovers are competitive perfectionists, while ham and cheese-eaters are curious and intuitive.
In an interview with The Chicago Tribune, Dr. Alan R. Hirsch, a researcher from the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, says that the sandwich test is similar to a Roscharch test:
"You look at ink blots, and what you see gives you insight into personality. We basically did the same thing, only with sandwich preferences... Literally every little thing we do — the way we walk, the way we talk, the color tie we pick — reflects our personality; we leave behind 'personality fingerprints' in everything we do," he says. "The question is, are we smart enough to figure out what it means?"
Hirsch certainly thinks so. The Chicago Tribune includes a video of Hirsch discussing his sandwich theory (while sitting behind trays of sandwiches with a carefully-placed jar of Hellmann's mayo), and he appears fully convinced that the choices we make, even in insignificant matters, reflects our "true, underlying personality." However, as the Tribune points out, Hirsch is missing a few important sandwiches, including the classic PB&J. Furthermore, only one of the sandwiches they include, egg salad, is vegetarian. Does this mean that everyone who skips meat is entertaining, lively, and energetic? And what about vegans? Do they not get a sandwich-based personality?
Apparently not. And apparently, as a lover of all sandwiches, I don't either. When asked about those of us who order different foods based on our different moods, Hirsh argues that we all have an underlying favorite, and that that is the sandwich that reveals our inner souls. After searching my soul, I realized that I don't have favorite sandwich—at least, not among the choices given, which all look delicious—so I clearly have multiple personalities. Or, more likely, this research is bogus.
However, even if it is foolish, studies like this do seem to say something about ourselves, not so much our romantic style or how introverted we are, but about the need to fall into one of eight simple categories. They remind me of the quizzes that were so popular in junior high, which promised to tell you your "true color," or figure out which animal best represents you. I loved these tests at the time, but years later, the desire to have myself labeled and defined seems odd. This need, to be categorized according to character traits, to have the ineffable substance of an individual's personality reduced down to a single mammal or vegetable or mineral, seems particular to the cutthroat world of middle school, where labels seemed both permanent and paramount. In these times of stress, maybe it is comforting to know whether you are an ambitious BLT or an easy going chicken salad. But since there isn't a sandwich-personality ready for me to step into, I am going to have to do what I did in junior high: make it up. I'm an avocado, Swiss cheese, and spinach. How about you?
Your Sandwich Choice May Reveal Your Personality, Compatibility [Chicago Tribune]
Which Sandwich Are You? [Chicago Tribune]
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