CNN's Eatocracy claimed recently that the best sandwich in the universe is a plain ol' tomato-and-mayo on white (white!) bread, the reason being that tomatoes are in season during August.
This statement took Gut Check back to our childhood. Harriet M. Welsch, fictional heroine of Louise Fitzhugh's masterpiece Harriet the Spy, was a big fan of the sandwich, and it was her lunchbox staple. How jealous we were that Harriet was allowed to bring her favorite food for lunch every day. Every day! She never got stuck with bologna.
But the best sandwich in the universe? That's something Gut Check has to taste to believe.
For the mayo, we decided to pit an old standby, Hellmann's, against a relatively new condiment to St. Louis: Duke's. Schnucks has been stocking Duke's for about a year now, but lately we've noticed more and more TV commercials for the mayo. Intrigued, we procured the four ingredients and headed to the kitchen.
The Contenders Hellmann's Mayonnaise Price: $3.13 We'll start with the obvious: Hellmann's is our mayo of choice. We're not big fans of Miracle Whip, and we like Hellmann's tangy flavor. The sandwich construction for this challenge is simple. Step one, spread mayonnaise on two slices of bread. Step two, put thick slices of tomato between said two slices of bread. Step three, eat. The tangy flavor didn't disappoint: It was the first thing we noticed upon sinking our teeth into the simple sandwich. Per Eatocracy, we tried to let the tomato juice soak into the bread before enjoying, but the mayo blocked absorption. No matter, the bread was already soft.
Duke's Mayonnaise Price: $2.99 This sandwich looks identical to its Hellmann's twin, but there's a big difference: When we bit into the Duke's version, we tasted the tomato, not the mayo. We were pleasantly surprised. To be sure, sandwich no. 2 was missing some of the tang that Hellmann's brings to the table, but that absence allowed the sweet flavor and juicy texture of the tomato. Yeah, it's missing a little zip, but there is beauty in simplicity.
The Verdict This was a tough call until we peered deeply into the recesses of our soul and asked, "What would Harriet do?" The answer was clear: Duke's. Hellmann's has its place, but not on Gut Check's tomato sandwich.