Sandwich Breads, Ranked

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Illustration by Angelica Alzona.
Illustration by Angelica Alzona.

Hey yo, the book tour for The Hike continues its drunken march down the West Coast tonight with a reading in Portland, and then two more stops in the Bay Area after that. So come on out and don’t be weird about it.

All right, time for your letters:


What is the best sandwich bread? Obviously some of this depends on what you’re pairing it with, but I think squaw is badass and completely under used.


It must be because I have no idea what squaw bread is. Does it have bits of real squaw in it? That sounds problematic. Dan Snyder probably serves squaw bread when lobbying Virginia stadium officials.

Anyway, these rankings are probably gonna start a fight because everyone loves pointlessly arguing about food online, so let’s get right to it.

  1. Sub roll. Pretty much all my favorite sandwiches use sub rolls as the preferred meat vessel: Italian subs with quintuple meat, dipped roast beef sandwiches, etc. I want a sub roll fifty yards long, cut into five ten-yard pieces, and I wanna eat it all in one sitting. That’s a fine lunch. In heaven, they park you in front of a sub that has no end to it. It is the forever sub.
  2. Potato rolls. You can use them for burgers or sliders or pulled pork or anything else you want. They’re impossible to fuck up.
  3. Big ass round loaf of overpriced French or Italian bread. There’s a kind of bread they sell at Whole Foods for like $90 a loaf, and even though I curse those prices to the goddamn moon, the bread is REALLY good. It’s crusty on the outside and spongy on the inside and when you butter it up it melts and gets all into the nooks and OH GOD I MUST HAVE IT. Any fresh bread made by some bearded artisanal nutjob who gets up at 3am every morning just to check on his yeast samples is usually gonna make for a good sandwich.
  4. Baguette. You gotta eat it right when you buy it, though. After three hours exposed to daylight, a Baguette turns into a Louisville Slugger.
  5. Ciabatta. You can buy half-baked Ciabatta rolls now at the store, which you then take home and shove in the oven to complete the breadmaking process. This way, I get to feel as if I baked the bread myself, even though that’s a lie. One whiff from the oven and suddenly I am Enzo, The Baker.
  6. Split-top hot dog bun. I’m gonna sidestep the “is a hot dog a sandwich?” flame war for this part. All I know is that if you’re having a lobster roll or a crab roll or something like that, it’s real nice when it shows up in a split-top bun that’s been slathered in butter and griddled on either side. I would eat a human turd out of one.
  7. English muffin. Like, with egg and bacon and cheese and extra bacon inside? OH SHIT YEAH. The nice thing is that English Muffins are relatively small, so I have no problem ordering seven breakfast sandwiches and pretending it’s the equivalent of one standard-sized sandwich. They’re like hor deuvres, really.
  8. Pita. Last week I got a garbage lamb gyro from a Halal cart in Midtown Manhattan and brought it back to my hotel room and it was the BEST. You could have told me they cooked the meat directly on the asphalt and I wouldn’t have cared. The pita fell apart instantly (like it always does) but I didn’t mind because I was so busy tearing into the thing and licking the foil. If there had been surveillance footage of me and this gyro alone in the hotel, people would have been horrified by it.
  9. Kaiser roll. Preferred bread of the guy in front of you at the New York deli who has an order for fifty sandwiches for his construction crew scrawled out on a torn-off cardboard box flap. YEAH JOHNNY’LL HAVE THE FUCKING EGG-AND-CHEESE.
  10. Rye. Kids fear and loathe rye and adults go apeshit for it. One day, they’re gonna do a study to determine the exact age where the Rye Transition happens. I think it’s probably around age 18. Prior to that, I avoided rye bread like it had worms in it.
  11. Sourdough. Like regular white bread, but with a TWIST!
  12. Poppy seed roll. For when you get bored of Kaiser rolls.
  13. Croissant. I like sandwiches and I like croissants but a croissant sandwich usually results in a crumb bukkake all over my goddamn lap. Also, you only need to apply the gentlest of pressure to a croissant to have it flatten out into a millimeter-thick wad, so that’s a problem. I need a small fairy to hand-feed me the croissant burger so that it maintains its integrity.
  14. Biscuit. Same problem. Biscuits are fucking awesome. Breakfast biscuits crumble after one bite. They’re as structurally sound as a Trump building. I mean, I like foraging for the greasy crumbs and stuffing them back in my face like a complete savage, but still. Sometimes there are children watching.
  15. Pretzel Bun. Every time I see one on a menu, I turn into your grandma at brunch. OH THAT SOUNDS INTERESTING!
  16. Regular pumpernickel. Seems fine.
  17. Some multigrain shit with lots of seeds in it. Whoa hey, what did I just bite into? Was that a currant?
  18. Bagel. Bagel sandwiches are bullshit. They’re always too thick to properly bite into, and then you have the issue of stuff falling out from the hole in the center: shreds of lettuce, drops of sauce, etc. Bagels weren’t really meant for this.
  19. Wheat bread. BUT IT MUST USE WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT FLOUR AND NOT REFINED FLOUR! Or so I am ordered every time I go to the grocery store. Refined flour is apparently Satan’s Anal Dust.
  20. Wonder bread. Just how I like my bread: flavorless and unhealthy. By the way, go ahead and move this up if we’re talking about grilled cheese sandwiches only.
  21. Focaccia. What is this, 1989? Get the fuck out of here with that. “We serve all our sandwiches on partially cooked, overly thick pizza crust.”
  22. Flavored Wrap. Like, the tomato one? No.
  23. Thick, European pumpernickel. You know the one I’m talking about. I don’t mean the normal, Pepperidge Farm stuff. I’m talking about the weird Swedish pumpernickel that looks like it was made out of black cork. That shit’s repulsive. I don’t get it, man. Europe has a lot of problems but their affinity for pumpernickel bread that has the density of a moon rock might be the worst of them.


Sometimes when I’m wearing socks around the house and go to express myself urinarily, if I get some pee on the rim of the bowl, I’ll just lift up my leg and wipe the rim off with my sock, then go about my business as if nothing happened. Is this widely-practiced boorish male behavior, or am I uniquely disgusting for doing this?


That’s disgusting. Don’t do that. It’s not like if you see one drop of piss on the FLOOR and you know you can’t leave it there because your wife might spot it. So you glance over it with your sock so that you avoid having to stoop over to wipe it up with a tissue. That’s all fine. But I draw the line at cleaning the rim, man. You’re better than that. You ever seen the rim of a toilet? It’s the mouth of hell. There are urine specks on there that date back to 1965. Don’t put your socks on it.

Also, feel free to use your Wigwams to wipe up any minor kitchen drops: water, milk, etc. Sometimes I get too cocky and wipe up a BIG spill, and that’s when the shame and regret come flooding in. Oh God, what have I done? Real tough moment.



So I’m watching the men’s gymnastics Olympic stuff and was wondering how you would rank the events in terms of difficulty. Floor exercise and vault, though I imagine still difficult, would be at the bottom. Rings, parallel bars, high bar (horizontal bar) and the dreaded pommel horse would be the top 4 (not necessarily in that order). I guess rings would be most difficult although I’ve seen a few dudes bite the chalk on that high bar.


RINGS. It has to be rings. Just hanging from the rings is difficult. Go try it. Once you take your feet off the ground, you feel like your arms are about to be torn off. I experience physical pain watching male gymnasts hop on the rings and lower their arms parallel to the mat. It’s like watching the training sequences from Bloodsport. No thanks.

I would put the pommel horse second, because it seems like gymnasts are always on the verge of banging their testicles on the handles of the horse. The part where they scissor their legs and let their balls dance around near them really concerns me. After that, I would go high bar, vault, floor stuff*, and then parallel bars. Parallel bars are bullshit. It looks like you’re doing hospital rehab after a car accident. I don’t know why they don’t do away with the parallel bars and make the high bar into two uneven bars instead, like the women. I wanna Sergio flip around from one bar to the other.


Oh, and one more thing about men’s gymnastics: why do they wear have to wear pants for some events? Why can’t they can’t just be in compression shorts and bare feet? These poor bastards have to go around in footies because their pants will ride up on them the second they do a flip. It’s not right. This isn’t storytime. Let them wear shorts. CARGO SHORTS.

(*The floor for floor exercises is equipped with springs underneath, like a wrestling ring. Any time I take my kid to some gymnastics practice, I make a point of bouncing around on that spring floor. It’s awesome. All floors should have springs. I see no downside to the idea.)



I just graduated from college and I’m back at home, unemployed and searching for a job. This is extremely depressing, as my days consist of applying to 5-10 jobs and sulking around. I realize that, even though I am currently a money sucking leech, a resident toad agitating the quaint pond of my parents abode, there could be an upside to my current situation. Unfortunately, I do not see any upside. What are some schweet things I should be doing during my free time (which is all the time) that I won’t be able to do once I’m boarded up in an office, no longer sucking at the teat of an upper middle class upbringing?


Well, that’s the bitch of being unemployed: all that free time doesn’t FEEL like free time, because you know that you have to get a job at the end of it. It’s not relaxing at all. I’ve been unemployed for long stretches and the toll it takes on your psyche is real. You start to feel worthless. And the longer you go without finding a job, the worse you feel about having nothing to do. Like, you can go to a movie during the day and then go have a beer and treat the day as a “day off,” but your employment status will always be at the back of your mind, nagging at you.

Oddly enough, the best thing you can do during this phase is “work,” which means setting regular office hours to send out resumes and all that. But also, you should use those office hours to work on independent projects as well, even if they don’t go anywhere: writing a movie script, researching a small business plan (Prestige Worldwide!), taking online courses, re-selling pot at a small markup, etc. Even if those projects go nowhere, you’ll still feel like you “worked,” which then makes you more like you deserve to kick back and relax later that night. It’s a necessary bulwark against despair. Everyone needs a routine. Everyone needs structure.




Which is the worst to accidentally touch: used Band-Aid, used cotton swab, or used tissue?


The Band Aid, because at least there are parts of the old Kleenex that weren’t used. There may be a bloody snotball in the dead center of the wad, but you can daintily pick up the tissue at the very edge and then rush it over to the trash can like a good, uptight citizen.

But every part of a used Band Aid is disgusting. The pad itself is usually stained with dried blood and yellowed pus. And then the rest of it is all sticky. There could be butt hair on those flaps, man. Even when I fold the Band Aid so that the flaps cover the pad, I still hate picking that shit up because the herpes could come rampaging THROUGH the little holes and then get all over me. It’s not right.


Also, when you have kids, there are used Band-Aids everywhere: bathrooms, playgrounds, in the car, stuck to the carpet, in the dryer, you name it. They just rip them off and walk away, like criminals. It’s disgusting. There’s probably a Band Aid in my sandwich as we speak.


What is the break-even distance for which an average guy on a bike would tie a world-class runner? My friends and I were debating this. We came to the consensus of about a quarter mile, as the sprinter would get out to a considerable lead as the average guy began peddling.


A sprinter wouldn’t be much of a problem. Your average beginning cyclist can go about 10-15 mph on a flat surface, while Usain Bolt’s top recorded speed was nearly 28 mph (HOLY SHIT!). So yeah, Bolt could get out to a quick lead on you, but then he would wear down quickly and you could pass him after a couple laps around the track, maybe sooner. Humans were not designed to run that fast for long stretches.

BUT… the world record marathon speed is right around 13mph. So it’s possible that your sorry ass would be neck-and-neck with some Kenya distance running dynamo for miles and miles, until YOU broke down from exhaustion and got ultimately smoked. It’s possible! When it comes to you versus an Olympian, I will almost always side with the Olympian, regardless of handicap.


Also, I haven’t ridden a bike in ages, so I know I’d tire out quickly. My thighs would chafe and develop large boils. Swamp-ass would set in at mile two. It would be a real issue. This is why I’ve yet to lose my Citibike virginity.


If Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr wanted to get together and play a show with a bunch of backing musicians, could they call themselves the Beatles? If not, when did they cease being able to call themselves that? When John Lennon died? When does any band cease being the original group? Are they still the Eagles without Glenn Frey?


Sure, they could go on tour as “The Beatles” so long as they got permission from the estates of John Lennon and George Harrison. That’s unlikely, but it could be done. In theory, you don’t even need Paul or Ringo. You could clear out the legal red tape and have a band of random assholes tour as “The Beatles” forever and ever if all the original parties and estates agreed to it.

Would that really be The Beatles up there on stage? No. Of course not. But once your band becomes a global sensation, it becomes a BRAND, an entity, and not just a specific group of people. And that brand name can become more valuable than the individual band members. It also becomes a huge legal concern if/when the lead singer decides to start boning the lead guitarist’s wife and what not. Sometimes the brand becomes too valuable to ever die off, which is how you end up with “Journey” touring minus Steve Perry, or Mike Love touring with five bags of flour and calling it “The Beach Boys.” Those are bullshit bands and everyone knows it. But as long as they make money, any band can be any band.



What website do you instinctively go to in order to check if the internet is working? And what does that say about an individual?


I used to go to Google because Google’s homepage is still very basic, which allows it to load quickly. But I stopped doing that because sometimes that Google page loads but the rest of the Internet still won’t. This is because Google has a shrink ray that allows them to send very small employees directly into your computer via fiber-optic cable to spy on you and load the Google homepage from within. They will not let a downed network prevent them from watching you masturbate.

Anyway, with that option out of the way, I usually try to bring up Gmail or Twitter, just like I do on my phone when the web is down. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve dragged down my inbox with my finger, trying to will new emails into existence. WORK, GOD DAMN YOU. WORK. I could probably stand to go camping for a night or something.



I would guess that over 50% of the flights I’ve been on I’ve seen someone order tomato juice and drink it plain but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone order tomato juice anywhere else, ever (that is without alcohol and not in some kind of health smoothie). Is tomato juice drunk exclusively on airplanes? If so, this is doubly true for spicy tomato juice right?


Are you sure they’re not dumping a couple of mini-bottles of vodka into that juice? Because people drink like fish on airplanes, especially designated morning cocktails like Bloody Marys and mimosas. Those are functional cocktails. You’re supposed to be able to drink ten of them and still be able to work the booth at the Cattle Ranchers Of America annual convention once you land.

Flying has an adverse effect on the human body. It dries out your eyes. It saps you of energy and vital nutrients. It’s terrible for your back. To counter all this damage, I assume a handful of people (but not many) will drink plain tomato juice to help with their vitamin intake. I am not one of those people. Tomato juice is fucking disgusting. I’d rather drink strawberry urine.



I’ve never tried oatmeal in my life, and have absolutely no plans to. I catch a lot of shit for this but I’ve always had better options for breakfast and can’t imagine a scenario where oatmeal is my best recourse. Am I a terrible person?


What if your options are just oatmeal and dry cereal? Sometimes, on a cold winter morning, it’s nice to cozy up with a bowl of oatmeal topped with fifty pounds of brown sugar. I like to pretend I’m a starving English peasant who has been taken in by a Lord and fed a bowl of hot, nourishing gruel. THANK YOU, KIND SIR.

But yeah, if you’re at a diner or some dipshit upscale breakfast joint, you’re probably better off ordering eggs and bacon than some overpriced bowl of oatmeal that probably isn’t even that good for you. Every moment you pass on eggs and bacon is a moment wasted.


Here’s what I would say: You should at least TRY oatmeal. And not the microwave garbage that comes in little packets. Have real, homemade oatmeal. Check it off your bucket list, so that you have a legit reason for passing on it. Don’t avoid oatmeal all your life and be PROUD of it. That’s not an Olympic feat.


For months I’ve been hearing all stories about how bad the Olympic prep has been, and how bad it might be for the host population/athletes/visitors. But now it’s almost here, and I can’t help but get excited for the spectacle we’re all used to. I’m a sucker for the inspiration, the intrigue, and the joy of all the sport. I worry that enjoying those things validates all the contemptible forces that helped bring the event to a place that won’t be helped by it. Does it mean anything if I boycott the Olympics or the World Cup? Would it mean anything if we all did?


No, and you’d never be able to arrange a widespread boycott anyway. That’s why the IOC makes billions and billions of dollars. They are stewards of a property that, like NFL Football and the World Cup, is bulletproof. They can hire slaves and rip off countries and all that shit and they KNOW you’ll still watch because A) it’s fun, and B) you care about the athletes.

That’s the key. The athletes are a human shield for the IOC. Sure, you may want to boycott the Games because of their treachery, but then what if they’re cancelled and little Bobbi Sue never gets her shot at a canoeing medal? That’s the beauty of the scam. There are ALWAYS innocents involved in the mix, and that’s what allows to bad guys to slip away.



Going to a friend’s place this weekend and it is largely BYOB. Most people will bring a case of beer and a bottle of liquor. My question is, can I bring an already open bottle? I have a bottle I bought a couple weeks back that I haven’t gotten into too much and don’t feel like buying a brand new one. What’s the etiquette here?


You can’t. Like, if you’re 23 years old and you’re just going over to your boy’s to get shitfaced and watch a football game, sure. Bring that half-empty bottle of Captain Morgan. But if it’s a real adult party, you gotta bring a full bottle. Otherwise I don’t know where the rest of that bottle has been. What if there’s backwash? What if you used half of that bottle of Bulleit for a self-administered whiskey enema? And how long has it been sitting around? You gotta bring a sealed bottle. The only exception would be if you had some $5,000 bottle of Pappy or some shit and you were passing it around as a special treat.

Also, if you bring a six-pack, it’s gotta be intact. You can’t drink one can the night before and then hand it over with an empty ring. That’s a real limp move, like giving someone a half-eaten cookie. I would think less of you.



Will playing cards ever be forgotten? With phones and tablets and such becoming more ever-present, will some little post-millennial shits ever not know what the hell playing cards are? Y’know, aside from stupid solitaire apps.


No way. As long as there’s gambling, there will be cards. And gambling’s not going anywhere. Virtual reality could eclipse everything and you could spend 20 hours a day living inside the O.A.S.I.S., but there will still be plenty of drunk frat bros playing Asshole and shady-looking Russian dudes in mirrored shades hanging out by casino tables. You’ll never make playing cards extinct. They’re timeless.

By the way, I have no clue when I need to start teaching my kids about cards. Cards are cheap entertainment but I haven’t gotten around to teaching them solitaire or blackjack or gin rummy or anything yet. I feel like there’s not enough gambling advice out there for parents. Someone guide me.


Email of the week!


What is the cutest, most cuddly animal that you would NOT want to cuddle with because it’s also the most deadly? Off the top of my head I’m going with a polar/grizzly bear.


Panda! Gotta be the panda. They’ll fuck you up.