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America’s Favorite Sandwich Fillings

Stashed in: America!, Sandwich!, Meat!, Thanks Obama gif, Nate Silver

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Fascinating that on any given day HALF of all Americans will eat AT LEAST one sandwich.


The article also has the 25 most popular breads, but this is the part I enjoyed the most.

On any given day, 49 percent of U.S. adults will eat a sandwich.

That finding was published last week in a study on salt consumption. Shocked at that number, I called one of the authors for confirmation. Cecilia Wilkinson Enns, a U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritionist, stopped me mid-sentence to correct me: “No, no. On any given day, 49 percent of U.S. adults will eat at least one sandwich.”

Something so ubiquitous surely deserves some closer attention. Using the same data that Wilkinson Enns and her colleagues used, I set about researching what Atkins-averse Americans are putting in their sandwiches.

The data comes from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s based on interviews with more than 5,000 adults age 20 and older who were asked about absolutely everything they ate on two separate days — and the data is so vast it’s served in two slices.

Although the information was collected in 2009-10, it’s the latest we have, and what it lacks in recency it more than makes up for in detail. I can search for every ingredient that was used in any sandwich eaten by the survey participants. And I did.

top 25 sandwich ingredients America chart infographic Imgur

Lowly lettuce tops the list (it also rates as America’s fifth-most frequently consumed item overall, after water, milk, coffee and sugar — and just ahead of “soft drink, cola type”). Ham is the most common sandwich meat, followed by chicken or turkey loaf and then beef. And if you’ve ever wondered which sandwich sauce wins, this data offers an answer: Mayonnaise beats mustard, which beats a condiment the CDC calls “tomato catsup,” aka ketchup.

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